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Columbus drops public-nuisance suit against paint companies

The paint manufacturers hit by the lead-paint lawsuits have just issued a news release about the city of Columbus dropping its suit. Excerpt:

COLUMBUS, OHIO - The City of Columbus has voluntarily dismissed with prejudice its public nuisance lawsuit filed in December 2006 against former manufacturers of lead pigment. With Tuesday's filing in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, all ten public nuisances suits filed by Ohio cities since 2006 have been either voluntarily dismissed or rejected by courts.

"The City of Columbus followed settled law by asking the court to dismiss its lawsuit," said Charles H. Moellenberg, Jr., an attorney for The Sherwin-Williams Company, speaking on behalf of defendants Sherwin-Williams and Millennium Holdings, LLC. "The lawsuit was legally and factually wrong in suing companies that lawfully made products that the city, painters and consumers demanded historically as the best on the market."

The City's action follows a series of significant decisions over the last two years, all of which have rejected public nuisance lawsuits against former manufacturers. On July 1, the Rhode Island Supreme Court unanimously rejected a public nuisance lawsuit filed nine years earlier, saying that the claim "should have been dismissed at the outset." Earlier, state Supreme Courts in Missouri and New Jersey, along with a jury in Wisconsin, also rejected plaintiffs' claims in public nuisance cases. As a result, public nuisance lawsuits against former manufacturers have been rejected by all courts in which the cases are resolved.

We'll be watching for news from the Ohio Attorney General's office, which last week expressed its intention to continue the state's lawsuit. Seems an untenable position.

Earlier post on Columbus' litigation here.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.