Today's Law As Amended

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AB-2803 Public nuisance: residential lead-based paint.(2017-2018)



SECTION 1.
 The Legislature finds and declares the following:
(a) Lead is highly toxic.
(b) At high levels of exposure, lead causes seizures, comas, brain swelling, and death.
(c) At low levels of exposure, lead causes decreased IQ, difficulty with problem solving, memory impairment, attention-related disorders, and antisocial behavior.
(d) Exposure to lead causes serious health harms that are irreversible and cumulative. As the American Academy of Pediatrics explained in 2016, “[n]o treatments have been shown to be effective in ameliorating the permanent developmental effects of lead toxicity.”
(e) Young children are especially susceptible to lead exposure due to their smaller sizes, the vulnerability of their developing nervous systems, and their high rates of lead absorption.
(f) Government agencies and health organizations, including the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, agree that there is no safe level of lead exposure.
(g) Once applied to the surface of a building or residence, lead-based paint becomes a permanent feature of that building or residence until and unless that paint has been abated.
(h) Deteriorating lead-based paint on the surfaces of a building or residence, especially high-friction surfaces like windows and doors, poses a serious health hazard to any young child who enters or lives in that building or residence.
(i) Studies indicate that lead-based paint is the source of approximately 70 percent of childhood exposure to lead.
(j) Virtually all government agencies, scientists, and public health officials agree that lead-based paint on residential surfaces is the predominant source of lead exposure in young children.
(k) Millions of residences in California were built before 1978 and are presumed to contain lead-based paint.
(l) Each year, the State of California identifies tens of thousands of young children in California whose health has been irreversibly harmed due to lead exposure. These children represent the minimum number of children in California whose health has been irreversibly harmed due to lead exposure.
(m) The economic costs of childhood lead exposure are substantial. These costs include: (1) health care costs associated with health problems caused by lead exposure, (2) special education costs incurred due to slower development, lower educational success, and behavioral problems caused by lead exposure, (3) loss of tax revenue due to decreased lifetime earnings resulting from decreased intelligence caused by lead exposure, and (4) costs of criminal activity connected to lead exposure. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the estimated annual cost of childhood lead exposure in the United States is $50 billion.
(n) The substantial economic costs of childhood lead exposure fall disproportionately on the state and local governments in California. Because young children who suffer from lead exposure are often poor, their health care and special education costs are typically borne by the state and local governments. Likewise, many of the economic costs of criminal behavior closely connected to lead exposure are shouldered by the state and local governments. Finally, the costs to the state and local governments in California from childhood lead exposure are exacerbated by the loss of tax revenues due to loss of income associated with childhood lead exposure.
(o) As the American Academy of Pediatrics explained in 2016, the only way to prevent the serious and irreversible health harms associated with childhood lead exposure caused by lead-based paint is to abate that paint before a young child is exposed to it.
(p) As the American Academy of Pediatrics explained in 2016, “[f]or every $1 dollar invested to reduce lead hazards in housing units, society would benefit by an estimated $17 to $221, a cost-benefit ratio that is comparable to the cost-benefit ratio for childhood vaccines.”
(q) In 2006, a California appellate court found that lead-based paint in residences may constitute a public nuisance and that lead pigment paint manufacturers may be held liable for public nuisance if they promoted lead-based paint for residential use with sufficient knowledge of the health hazards that would result to render their promotions unreasonable (County of Santa Clara v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2006) 137 Cal.App.4th 292).
(r) Based on extensive evidence presented at trial, a California judge in 2010 found that certain lead pigment paint manufacturers caused lead-based paint to be applied on certain residential surfaces by promoting that paint for use on those surfaces even though they knew about the serious health harms to children that would result (County of Santa Clara v. Superior Court (2010) 50 Cal.4th 35).
(s) A California appellate court in 2017 unanimously affirmed that finding by the judge (People v. Conagra Grocery Products Company (2017) 17 Cal.App.5th 51).
(t) Certain lead pigment paint manufacturers now contend that these court decisions misstate California’s public nuisance law as applied to lead-based paint in residences in California.
(u) This act clarifies existing public nuisance law as applied to lead-based paint.

SEC. 2.

 Section 3497 is added to the Civil Code, to read:

3497.
 (a) Residential lead-based paint that affects the health of a considerable number of persons interferes with a public right.
(b) A party may be subject to liability for public nuisance if it promoted lead-based paint for a particular use with actual or constructive knowledge that such use would cause health hazards sufficiently serious to render that use unreasonable.
(c) To prove causation in an action seeking solely abatement of residential lead-based paint that has been found to interfere with a public right, an aggrieved party need not present evidence that a particular party caused a particular lead-based paint to be applied in a particular residence. Causation may be inferred from evidence that does not itself constitute direct evidence of reliance on an individual basis.
SEC. 3.
 The provisions of this act are severable. If any provision of this act or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.