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The city of Milwaukee, Wis., is suing two paint companies in an effort to force them to pay for removing lead-based paint from homes. The lawsuit claims Mautz Paint, a Madison, Wis.-based company that produced lead paint, and NL Industries of Houston, a producer of lead pigments, intentionally concealed their knowledge of the hazards of lead paint to maintain demand for the products. Lead poisoning can cause a variety of ailments, ranging from lower IQs and learning disabilities to seizures and death. The suit, filed Monday, seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. Ted M. Warshafsky, the lead local attorney among law firms pursuing the city’s case, said the city chose to sue Mautz and NL Industries instead of all firms involved in manufacturing lead-based paint to maximize the city’s potential of winning. Both companies defended their actions. NL Industries spokesman Alan Wheat said the company had acted responsibly, funding research on the subject as early as the late 1940s. “Suing companies that have not sold lead-based paint for decades will not help the children of Milwaukee,” he said. “The problem is not a manufacturing problem, it is a maintenance problem.” Daniel Drury, president of Mautz, said his company has always manufactured its products in full compliance with laws and to the highest industry standards. The Milwaukee suit comes a week after a judge ruled Rhode Island officials can pursue a lawsuit seeking to hold paint companies liable for health problems linked to lead in paint. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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