Lead Paint Lawsuits: Misuse of Law Coming to an End

The city of Columbus, Ohio, has voluntarily ended its litigation against paint manufacturers, seeing no expectation of success after the Rhode Island Supreme Court unanimously rejected the state’s public nuisance lawsuit against the companies.

From a news release:

The City of Columbus followed settled law by asking the court to dismiss its lawsuit,” said Charles H. Moellenberg, Jr., an attorney for The Sherwin-Williams Company, speaking on behalf of defendants Sherwin-Williams and Millennium Holdings, LLC. “The lawsuit was legally and factually wrong in suing companies that lawfully made products that the city, painters and consumers demanded historically as the best on the market.”

The notice of voluntary dismissal is here.

State Supreme Courts in Missouri and New Jersey and a jury in Wisconsin have also rejected public nuisance lawsuits.

“The lawyers who sold Columbus on this lawsuit made much of similar litigation in Rhode Island,” Moellenberg said. “Now, the unanimous ruling by the Rhode Island Supreme Court last week that dismissed the Rhode Island case has confirmed that public nuisance lawsuits are ill-advised and without merit. Extraordinary progress has been made in addressing lead risks to children from all sources. Enforcement of current Ohio law requiring property owners to keep their properties in a safe condition and free of hazards will finish the job.”

  • Columbus Dispatch: “Columbus drops lawsuit against lead-paint makers
  • Associated Press: Columbus drops lead paint lawsuit
  • Public Nuisance Fairness Coalition, news release.
  • Jane Genova, Law and More blog, commentary here and here.
  • The Ohio Attorney General’s office continues to whistle past the courthouse as spokesman Jim Gravelle says the state will continue its own public nuisance suit. It would be nice if Attorney General Nancy Rogers would explain more thoroughly to the public (via the media) how she could conceivably expect the state to prevail.


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