(AP) – July 1, 2008 -- The Rhode Island Supreme Court overturned a landmark verdict against three former lead paint companies, a major setback for states that want the companies to pay billions to clean up the toxic substance.

The unanimous decision Tuesday reverses the lone victory to date against the lead paint industry.

A jury in February 2006 found Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries Inc. and Millennium Holdings liable for creating a public nuisance by manufacturing and selling a toxic product.

The companies would have been required to clean up contaminated homes. The state had said that would cost $2.4 billion and require inspections and work on hundreds of thousands of homes built before 1980.