July 1, 2005

Rhode Island drops lead paint suit against DuPont

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rhode Island has dropped itslead-poisoning suit against DuPont Co.

after thechemical maker agreed to donate $12.5 million to statecharities and other funds, both sides said on Thursday.

DuPont, which once made lead-based paint products, saidRhode Island is dismissing it from its six-year-old suit, whichcharged manufacturers with selling lead-based paints despiteknowing the harmful effects of lead, especially on children.

Rhode Island is still suing six other defendants --Atlantic Richfield, American Cyanamid, ConAgra ,Millennium, NL Industries Inc. , and Sherwin-Williams Co.. Their retrial is due to start in September in RhodeIsland.

The first trial ended in a hung jury in October 2002.

DuPont, which has not made household lead paint in decades,said its donations are not a settlement and it would not makeany payments to Rhode Island.

Instead, the Wilmington, Delaware company will makecontributions to the Children's Health Forum, a nonprofitgroup, which will boost its lead-poisoning education,remediation, and compliance programs in Rhode Island.

The company will also give to the Brown University Schoolof Medicine in Providence and to the Dana-Farber/Brigham andWomen's Cancer Center in Boston.

The suit was brought against DuPont and other manufacturersin 1999, said lawyers for the firm Motley Rice LLC, whichrepresented Rhode Island.

At the time the suit was filed, the Rhode Island attorneygeneral cited reports that 20 percent of children startingkindergarten showed elevated lead levels in their blood andnearly one in three children in the state's five largestcommunities had elevated lead levels in their blood.