Medical Records Released in Lead-based Paint Lawsuit

A Santa Clara Superior Court judge has ordered that companies that are being sued for manufacturing lead-based paint will be able to receive the medical records of thousands of children whose blood has been tested for lead. The counties and cities have argued that health records are confidential and should not be released. “We are deeply troubled by the court’s decision to release these records, and want the public to understand that they have the right to make an objection,” said Maricela Foster, Acting Director of the Alameda County Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, “but at the same time, we are encouraged this case will soon go to trial, which has the potential to reduce substantially the future risk of children being poisoned by lead paint in their own homes.” The disclosure is in connection with a lawsuit filed by attorneys for 10 California counties and cities, including Alameda County and the City of Oakland, against the makers of lead paint. The California Department of Public Health is also opposed to disclosure of the medical records. Last week, the State Attorney General’s Office filed a petition with the Court of Appeal to stop the disclosure. According to backers, the lawsuit aims to hold the lead paint manufacturers responsible for the toxic lead paint that permeates homes and properties, and seeks an order requiring the paint companies to abate the lead. The counties of Santa Clara, Alameda, Los Angeles, Monterey, San Mateo, Solano, and Ventura, and the Cities of Oakland, San Diego, and San Francisco maintain the medical records in their jurisdictions for the California Department of Public Health. The defendants in the case include Atlantic Richfield Company, ConAgra Grocery Products Company, E.I. Du Pont De Nemours and Company, NL Industries, Inc., and The Sherwin-Williams Company. The court has ordered the release of limited information from the records; the address and health records of people tested can be disclosed, but all names of individuals tested and family members are to remain confidential. Individuals and families have the right to file an objection to the release of their information. For information go to www.LeadTestingDisclosure.com or call (888) 212- 6860. The deadline for people to object is Aug. 31. For information on the Alameda County Lead Poisoning Prevention Program call (510) 567-8280 or visit www.aclppp.org
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