Tort Law

St. Louis Lead-Paint Suit Fails

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The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled the city of St. Louis may not sue the makers of lead paint under a market-share theory.

The city needed to prove which paint manufacturers made the paint used in St. Louis homes to succeed in its suit seeking cleanup costs, the court said in yesterday’s 4-3 ruling.

City Counselor Patti Hageman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the court had created “an impossibly high standard to prove.” She said it means the end of city efforts to recoup money from the lead paint industry.

The city had argued the paint manufacturers had created a public nuisance and they should be liable in proportion to their share of the market when lead paint was sold. It sought recovery of hundreds of thousands of dollars spent to remove lead paint from private homes.

But the state high court cited a previous opinion in which it held market-share liability is “unfair, unworkable, and contrary to Missouri law, as well as unsound public policy,” according to an Associated Press account.

The opinion is City of St. Louis v. Benjamin Moore & Co., No. SC88230.

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