Issue Date: July 7, 2008
Top Rhode Island Court Overturns Lead Verdict
Last week, Rhode Island's Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling that found three makers of lead-based paints and pigments liable for covering up the health risks of their products. The 2006 ruling could have forced Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries, and Millennium Holdings to pay billions of dollars to clean up and contain paint in the state. The state's top court ruled that Rhode Island officials failed to prove the companies interfered with a public right or that the firms were in control of the products when they caused harm to Rhode Island children. "However grave the problem of lead poisoning is in Rhode Island, public nuisance law simply does not provide a remedy for this harm," the court said in a 4-to-0 opinion. The case, which has been compared to tobacco lawsuits, is being watched closely by other states and municipalities.
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