Press Release

Kirkland & Ellis LLP Captures Jury Trial Win for Client NL Industries in First Lead Paint Personal Injury Case in Wisconsin

Kirkland & Ellis LLP announced today that a Milwaukee (Wisconsin) County Circuit Court jury returned a unanimous verdict for client NL Industries and co-defendants Atlantic Richfield, DuPont, Millenium Holdings, and Sherwin Williams following a five-week trial.  The plaintiff and his guardian ad litem alleged that Mr. Thomas, a minor, suffered permanent brain damage as a result of childhood lead poisoning. 

Bartlit Beck served as co-counsel with Kirkland on the case.

This win will have implications for related cases in Wisconsin and nationwide.  Thomas v. Atlantic Richfield Co., NL Industries, et al. was the first case to go to trial against former lead pigment manufacturers under Wisconsin's recently-created "risk contribution" theory of liability.  There are more than 30 similar cases pending in Wisconsin.  The Thomas case received national attention and was closely followed by both the plaintiff and defense bars.  The trial occurred during lead poisoning prevention week.

After hearing four weeks of evidence and deliberating for about five hours, the jury reached a full defense verdict - determining unanimously that although plaintiff ingested lead as a child, he did not suffer brain damage as a result.  The jury also concluded that plaintiff was not injured by the treatment that lowered his blood lead levels. 

The trial team was led by Kirkland partners Michael D. Jones, a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, and Jennifer G. Levy.  The Kirkland team also included associates Nicole E. Goldstein, Brittany P. Whitesell, Sarah B. Fabian and Savaria B. Harris.

Mr. Jones noted, "We were able to show through a balanced consideration of all of the evidence and history of the family that a finding for NL and the co-defendants was both the right and legal thing to do."

Circuit Court Judge Richard Sankovitz presided over the trial.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP is a 1,300-attorney law firm representing global clients in complex litigation, dispute resolution and arbitration, corporate, restructuring, tax and intellectual property and technology matters.  The Firm has offices in Washington, D.C., Chicago, London, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Munich, New York and San Francisco.