December 6, 2006
New Jersey Lead Paint Case
Article by Kate Coscarelli in the Star-Ledger -- Lead-paint case reaches top court -- concerning last week's New Jersey Supreme Court argument in the lead paint litigation:
Yesterday, the Supreme Court of New Jersey heard arguments in a high-stakes case pitting a group of local government entities against the companies that made lead pigment and paint over who should pay to remove the stuff from homes and apartments and treat lead-poisoned residents.
In the case, which has attracted national attention, 22 New Jersey towns and four counties are trying to sue the manufacturers and distributors of lead paint. The issue is whether the towns and counties have "inherent police powers" -- in addition to the other powers the Legislature has granted to clean up lead paint -- to sue to stop a public nuisance, such as a health threat.
The towns and counties sued in 2001. A Middlesex County judge dismissed the suit before trial almost four years ago, saying local governments had overstepped their boundaries in suing manufacturers. Last year, a state appeals court revived the suit, ruling that Newark, the counties of Essex and Union, and the others have a right to go to court to recoup costs against not just individual owners but the larger companies, too.
The plaintiffs are the towns of Bayonne, Camden, Collingswood, East Orange, Gloucester City, Highland Park, Hillside, Irvington, Jersey City, Linden, Newark, North Plainfield, Orange, Passaic, Phillipsburg, Plainfield, Roselle, Roselle Park, Union City, Union Township, West New York and West Orange, and the counties of Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester and Union. The defendants are Atlantic Richfield, NL Industries, Millenium Inorganic Chemicals, Sherwin-Williams, American Cynamid, Cytec Industries, ConAgra and DuPont.
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