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May 13, 2008

R.I. Supreme Court Will Webcast Arguments in Lead Paint Nuisance Appeal

The much-anticipated oral arguments in the various appeals in Rhode Island v. Lead Industries Association will be webcast over the internet on May 15, 2008.  Arguments begin at 9:00 AM EDT.  At trial, the defendants were found liable on a public nuisance theory for abatement costs stemming from the use of lead-based paints decades ago.  Of the several issues on appeal, two are of particular interest:  (1) whether the manufacturing and sale of lead-based paint was, at the time, a public nuisance, and (2) the state's use of a contingent fee agreement with private counsel to prosecute the state's case.  Similar suits in other states have been rejected with courts essentially finding that a lawful activity, not known to be dangerous at the time of the activity, cannot amount to a public nuisance.  The second issue raises the essential question of whether counsel with a financial interest in the outcome of the litigation can maintain the degree of neutrality demanded by prosecutions in the public interest.

JDP

May 13, 2008 | Permalink

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