Thursday, November 30, 2006

Akron Drops Lead Paint Lawsuit

The city of Akron, Ohio earlier this month dropped its lawsuit against eight lead paint manufacturers.  Here's an Akron Beacon Journal article on the withdrawal, by way of Walter Olson's post today on Point of Law.  According to the article, three other Ohio cities -- East Cleveland, Lancaster, and Toledo -- still have similar lead paint suits pending, and Cincinnati and Columbus have discussed filing suits but have not yet done so.  Apparently, Akron's move was a voluntary dismissal without prejudice.  The city's law director explained that he wanted to step back and review the city's position, and that the city reserved the right to refile.

Olson also links to an interesting editorial in the Akron newspaper praising the city for rethinking the suit, and drawing a distinction between lead paint and tobacco:

Listen to advocates of the lawsuit, and you would think the paint industry belongs in a category with Big Tobacco. The comparison is unfair. For decades, tobacco companies denied the effects of smoking, hid unfavorable information and opposed efforts that could protect the health of consumers. For their part, the paint companies targeted by these lawsuits haven't made lead paint in years. They have not been defiant in a bid to protect their bottom lines. ...

[T]his is a housing problem that the city and property owners must address in the same way they contend with outdated electrical wiring or plumbing. They make the needed improvements. They don't run to court in pursuit of a payoff.


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