Paint maker gets hearing in Miss. on lead lawsuit

By The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams Co. will go before the Mississippi Supreme Court next month to argue that it is not liable for the illnesses of a Mississippi boy who ate lead-contaminated paint chips.

A Jefferson County jury last year awarded $7 million in damages in the lawsuit filed on behalf of Trellvion Gaines and his mother, Shermeker Pollard of Fayette.

The plaintiffs attorney called the ruling significant in that few lead paint lawsuits against manufacturers have been successful nationwide.

Defense attorneys said Sherwin-Williams hasn’t used lead in residential paint since 1972.

The suit was filed in 2000 in Jefferson County when Gaines was 9. A trial judge ruled in favor of the Cleveland, Ohio-based paint manufacturer in 2003. The Mississippi Supreme Court overturned the decision in 2007 and ordered a new trial.

In the lawsuit, the family claims Trellvion Gaines ingested lead paint chips while staying in the house where his grandmother, Doris Gaines, had lived since the 1970s.

Lead paint was banned in the United States in 1978, but can be found in some older homes.

Doris Gaines had said she and another person painted the house four times between 1974 and 1994.

The lawsuit claims the boy was exposed to lead dust and chips from sanding, scraping and other steps recommended by Sherwin-Williams to remove the lead paint from the house before other paint could be applied.

The lawsuit alleges Gaines’ brain damage became evident in the first grade. His attorneys said Gaines still reads only at a second- or third-grade level and shows other signs of cognitive delays.

The case, which will be heard April 19, is among dozens before the Supreme Court in its March-May term. Among other cases are:

— The Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance’s complaint against Chancery Judge Talmadge Littlejohn. Last December, the judicial watchdog agency recommended a public reprimand for Littlejohn, who jailed an attorney for not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in his courtroom. Commission records show Littlejohn has agreed that he violated Oxford attorney Danny Lampley’s rights with his contempt of court order last October. The commission said Littlejohn has changed how he conducts the pledge in his court, noting its recitation now is voluntary.

— The Commission on Judicial Performance’s recommendation of a public reprimand and two-month suspension without pay for Pearl River County Justice Court Judge Nell Cowart. The commission in November filed a complaint saying Cowart gave inappropriate assistance to a defendant.

— The Commission on Judicial Performance’s complaint against an Alcorn County judge for fixing tickets. The commission in November recommended a public reprimand and a 90-day suspension without pay for Justice Court Judge Steve Little. The commission says Little fixed 16 DUI tickets by remanding the cases, failing to issue a judgment or retiring the cases to the files