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June 21, 2007

Missouri and New Jersey Rule Out Lead Paint Nuisance Claims

The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled in In re: Lead Paint Litigation that local governments cannot sue paint manufacturers for creating a public nuisance where the only allegations are that the defendants made and lawfully sold a product and failed to advise of its risks.  The court said that the suit was really a products liability claim and fell under the state's Product Liability Act which excludes claims for exposure to toxic material.  The public nuisance ruling is directly contrary to an earlier ruling by a Rhode Island trial court that is under review by that state's Supreme Court.  Similar litigation in Ohio is on hold while the Ohio Supreme Court rules on the validity of legislation that would bar such public nuisance claims in the state.  The New Jersey ruling was preceded by a decision of the Missouri Supreme Court in City of St. Louis v. Benjamin Moore, ruling that the plaintiffs in that state's lead paint litigation could not depend upon a market share liability theory to circumvent the need to specifically identify the manufacturers of the lead paint in issue.  Product identification remains a requirement, said the Missouri Court, even in public nuisance claims.

JDP

June 21, 2007 | Permalink

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