By Shawn Langlois, MarketWatch
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) - Sherwin-Williams stock fell as much as 22% Wednesday on reports that a verdict from a Rhode Island jury could cost the nation's biggest paint maker millions.
Shares of the Cleveland-based company /zigman2/quotes/210069062/composite SHW -0.47% ended the session down $9.37 at $43.20.
Jurors found that Sherwin-Williams, along with two other companies that formerly made lead-based paint, created a public nuisance that continues to poison children, according to the Associated Press.
The state brought in doctors who described lead poisoning in children can cause behavioral disorders, gastrointestinal pain, brain damage and even death, the report said.
The verdict means the company, along with NL Industries and Millennium Holdings, could be responsible for millions of dollars in clean-up and mitigation costs, though no dollar value was given.
A superior court judge will decide later how much, if anything, the companies must pay.
"We continue to believe that the facts and the law are on our side," the company said. "The Court still has to rule on various remaining issues before the next steps in the legal process can be determined. Sherwin-Williams will continue to vigorously defend itself."
Shares of NL Industries /zigman2/quotes/210222881/composite NL +1.92% also came under pressure, shedding 8% to $13.21 after bouncing off a 52-week low of $12.14.
Atlantic Richfield, the fourth company named in the suit, was found not responsible.
Rhode Island became the first state to sue the lead paint industry in 1999, and the first trial ended in a hung jury in 2002. Lead-based paint sales were banned in the U.S. in 1978 after studies showed serious health risks to children. But because of its old housing stock, it still exists in many Rhode Island homes, the report said.