Tuesday, June 12, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Lead Paint Victory In Missouri

A major victory for the former lead paint companies, today the Supreme Court of Missouri ruled, "... product identification requirement applies with equal force to public nuisance cases brought by governmental entities for monetary damages accrued as an alleged result of public nuisance." Blog's Jane Genova at Law and More. The case is City of St. Louis v. Benjamin Moore, a subsidary of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A); Company, et al., et al. Respondents." Unofficial copy of interim court opinion available free from Mgenova981@aol.com.

This ruling is in direct conflict with the set of instructions to the jury issued by Judge Michael Silverstein in the Rhode Island lead paint trial vs. Sherwin Williams (SHW) and Milwaukee's case against NL Industries (NL). And it affirms the trial court's earlier decision in summary judgment. The opinion states, "The trial court did not err in entering summary judgment against the city [of St. Louis] based on its inability to provide any product identification evidence." The city had appealed that decision.

In the original case, as in lead paint public nuisance litigation in general, there was no way to link the paint on the walls of buildings to a specific lead paint brand or to a specific manufacturer. Therefore, the city of St. Louis attempted to use "market-share evidence." The trial court disagreed. It characterized that evidence as perhaps relevant but not sufficient to prove causation and entered a summary judgment for the paint companies.

Can we lead-paint watchers also expect similar good news from the RI Supreme Court where the verdict from the RI lead paint trial is being appealed?


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