Tort Law

Lead Paint Case Heads to Rhode Island Supreme Court Tomorrow

The Rhode Island Supreme Court will consider tomorrow whether three lead paint companies can face liability for creating a public nuisance.

The court is expected to webcast the oral arguments, reported in an earlier post. The state claims that some 240,000 homes in Rhode Island are covered in lead-based paints and that thousands of the state’s children have been poisoned by the dust.

Defendants in the case are Sherwin-Williams Co., NL Industries Inc. and Millennium Holdings, the Associated Press reports. They were sued by Rhode Island’s attorney general and found liable in a second trial after the first resulted in a hung jury.

The companies argue the public nuisance theory is flawed because it allows a jury to find liability without any evidence about whether or to what extent their paint contributed to the problems.

Public nuisance claims have failed in New Jersey, Ohio, Missouri and Wisconsin, the ABA Journal reported in its coverage of the case, “Primed for Lead Paint Litigation.”

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