Results matching “McConnell and paint”

The Senate is expected to vote shortly after noon today on whether to move ahead with the full debate on the nomination of John "Jack" McConnell to the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island.

The public got a preview of any debate Tuesday when Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) spoke on the Senate floor against the nomination of McConnell, an attorney with Motley Rice who made -- and continues to make -- millions from the state tobacco lawsuit, is a major political contributor across the nation -- even in North Dakota -- and who in his public statements demonstrates judicial intemperance. Cornyn:

I am sorry to have to say this, but the hard truth is Mr. McConnell's record--which I will describe in a moment--is one of not upholding the rule of law but perverting the rule of law, ignoring the responsibilities he had to his client, and manipulating those ethical standards in order to enrich himself and his law partners.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, rose in defense of McConnell's nomination, but only after excoriating Republicans for delaying action on President Obama's judicial nominees. Leahy challenged Cornyn's assertion that McConnell had deceived the committee during the confirmation procedures, and praised the trial lawyer's dedication:

Some oppose him because he successfully represented plaintiffs, including the State of Rhode Island itself, in lawsuits against lead paint manufacturers. Some here in the Senate may support the lead paint industry. That is their right. I support those who want to go after the people who poison children. That is what Mr. McConnell did. But nobody should oppose Mr. McConnell for doing what lawyers do and vigorously representing his clients in those lawsuits.

It's a shock to see a Senate chairman so blithely accusing U.S. manufacturers of "poisoning" children. In any case, even if you admire McConnell's partnership with then Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse in ginning up a public nuisance complaint against the paint companies, it hardly reflects a mindset or legal experience befitting a judicial appointment.

We have The Congressional Record's account of the Cornyn and Leahy exchanges here.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has distributed a "Dear Colleague" letter that destroys the already weak case for Senate confirmation of Motley Rice attorney John "Jack" McConnell to the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island. Cornyn charges McConnell with ethical failings, lack of judicial temperament, an anti-business bias and for helping to spread the practice of state-run contingency-fee lawsuits. From the letter (via the Institute for Legal Research):

[Mr. McConnell's] 25-year legal career is surrounded by ethical cloud. As a crusading plaintiff's lawyer, "Mr. McConnell and his firm helped pioneer the practice of soliciting public officials to bring lawsuits in which the private lawyers are paid a percentage of any judgment or settlement." Specifically, Mr. McConnell has helped initiate and direct the litigation of mass tort suits brought by state attorneys general against tobacco and lead -based paint manufacturers. I have long argued that these types of outsourced contingent-fee arrangements are inherently unethical and inevitably lead to the appearance of public corruption. In Texas, for instance, my predecessor as Attorney General served over three years in federal prison for his role in manipulating documents related to a contingent-fee contract and attempting to channel settlement funds to a close friend. While in the private sector contingency fee agreements, though not without controversy, can provide a poor person a key to the courthouse they could not otherwise afford, they have special problems in the public sector. In the public sectors it would be analogous to outsourcing traffic tickets to a private security firm paid by a percentage of the income - no checks, no balances, no exercise of prosecutorial discretion, just a pure profit motive.

More commentary below the fold ...

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday filed a cloture motion to force a confirmation vote on John "Jack" McConnell, the Motley Rice lawyer and major Democratic contributor who made millions from the state tobacco lawsuits. President Obama has nominated the trial lawyer several times to the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island, but only to find his confirmation blocked because of his controversial statements, legal history -- directing the state's contingency suit against paint manufacturers, for example -- and hyperpartisanship.

Reid's motion could force a floor vote as early as Wednesday. In filing for cloture Monday, Reid said:

Mr. REID. Mr. President, I hope, as I mentioned this morning, we are not in a situation where we have to file cloture on district court judges. That is a little much. I filed cloture on this because I couldn't get agreement not to do it, but I hope we don't have to have cloture on all the district court judges whom somebody has some concern about.

This is a very good man. Morally his record is impeccable. As a lawyer, he is certainly one of the two or three best lawyers in the State of Rhode Island, and I would hope we could get this done on Wednesday when this cloture motion ripens.

The Providence Journal reports, "Reid seeking to force Senate vote on nomination of John J. McConnell to U.S. District Court for R.I."

Earlier POL coverage.


WSJ on John "Jack" McConnell (D.R.I.) nomination - PointOfLaw Forum

The Senate Judiciary Committee today voted 11-7 on party lines to approve the nomination of John "Jack" McConnell for the U.S. District Court, District of Rhode Island. Whether the Motley Rice trial attorney and Democratic contributor ever gets a final confirmation vote on the Senate floor is another matter. (Updated Friday, 9 a.m.: Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) joined the Democrats in supporting McConnell.)

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the committee's ranking member, read a lengthy and strongly worded statement in opposition to McConnell's nomination. Excerpt:

Mr. McConnell has a view of the law that I believe is outside the mainstream of legal thought. Much of Mr. McConnell's career has been devoted to bringing some of the most controversial mass tort litigation of recent years. He has pursued the manufacturers of asbestos, tobacco, and lead paint, whose actions he believes to be "unjust." In bringing many of these cases, Mr. McConnell has often stretched legal argument beyond its breaking point. An example is the "public nuisance" theory he pursued in the Rhode Island lead paint case. Well-respected attorneys have said Mr. McConnell's theory "just [did not] mesh with centuries of Anglo-American law" and a former attorney general called the lead-paint cases "a lawsuit in search of a legal theory." 

The Rhode Island Supreme Court unanimously ruled against him in State v. Lead Industries Associates, Inc. In a well-reasoned opinion, the court found that there was no set of facts that he could have proven to establish that the defendants were liable in public nuisance.

 

The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a business meeting Thursday that includes a vote on the nomination of John "Jack" McConnell to be U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Rhode Island.

McConnell was one of the leading tobacco lawyers, a top money maker for the Motley Rice firm in Providence and a big Democratic contributor. He later worked with Attorney General (now U.S. Senator) Sheldon Whitehouse to gin up and pursue public nuisance claims against manufacturers of lead-based paint. The contingency fee lawsuit would have brought many more millions to McConnell, but was unanimously rejected by the Rhode Island Supreme Court in 2008.

And that's why he should be a federal judge!

Judicial Watch has pored through McConnell's committee disclosures and found that, if confirmed as a federal judge, he would still be pulling in millions of dollars annually from the tobacco settlement.

As the top litigator at his mega Providence law firm (Motley Rice), McConnell has raked in between $2 to $3 million a year since 1999 and will receive between $2.5 and $3.1 million annually through 2024 in “deferred compensation” for work on tobacco litigation.

See also Providence Journal, March 17, "Panel takes up McConnell nomination again." Also on the committee's agenda for a vote is Goodwin Liu, nominated to the Ninth Circuit Court.

UPDATE (1:30 p.m.): There's a North Dakota angle? Of course there is. Say Anything blogger Rob Port wonders if the tobacco settlement money is still driving politics in the state.

More on the John McConnell (D.R.I.) nomination - PointOfLaw Forum

The Ocean State Policy Research Institute wants some answers about McConnell's role in a corrupt $2.5 million cy pres award in the Rhode Island lead paint litigation—to a Massachusetts hospital that Motley Rice owed money to, and that accepted the cy pres award as satisfaction of Motley Rice's obligation, thus serving as a laundered attorney's fee. A shame neither the Democratic U.S. Attorney nor the Democratic state attorney general is going to investigate it: the Senate Judiciary Committee should take this opportunity to do so.

Senate moves slowly ... - PointOfLaw Forum

The Washington Post today revisits a perennial story, that of the speed with which the Senate is confirming judicial nominations, "Senate moves slowly in confirming Obama's lower-court judicial nominees."

The story comes in the wake of Democrats taking to the Senate floor last Thursday, July 29, to demand confirmation votes on President Obama's federal judicial nominees. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) led the colloquy, starting on page S6476 of The Congressional Record.

Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin praised Louis Butler Jr., the former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice nominated for the U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin. As this Wall Street Journal editorial recalls, voters in 2008 kicked Butler off the state Supreme Court, in part because of his liberal rulings against medical liability reform and his invention of "collective liability" for paint manfacturers. President Obama nominated him to the federal court in Oct. 2009 and renominated him last January.

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed of Rhode Island were also exercised about Republicans preventing a vote on John "Jack" McConnell, the Motley Rice attorney and Democratic contributor nominated to the U.S. District Court. Whitehouse attacked the U.S. Chamber of Commerce by name, posing the rhetorical question, "Do we want to let powerful out-of-State interests trump the better informed views of home State Senators about district court nominees? That is not the tradition of this body. I again ask my colleagues: Is this the tradition they want to set? If they open the door to out-of-State special interests trumping the considered judgment of home State Senators on district court nominees, will they ever get that door closed again? I submit it is a mistake for this body to go that road."

Alternatively, do we want Senators' parochial and political interests to always trump the public's objections to judicial nominees whose qualifications are solely political? Is that the road we want to go down?

Sen. Udall asked for unanimous consent several times to move the pending judicial candidates, with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) objecting. Two other controversial nominees who were stopped were Goodwin Liu to be a Ninth Circuit judge and Robert Chatigny to be on the Second Circuit. (Page S6486.)

Addendum: Originally appointed by Gov. Mike Doyle to the state Supreme Court to fill a vacancy, Justice Louis Butler was defeated in April 2008 for a full term by Burnett County Circuit Judge Michael Gableman. The expensive, rough-and-tumble campaign offended "good government" types, and Gableman became the target of a complaint based on one truthful TV ad. Last month the Wisconsin Judicial Commission decided not to take any action.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Thursday, June 17, on the nomination of Rhode Island trial lawyer and lead-paint litigator John "Jack" McConnell to be a U.S. District Court Judge. McConnell is the Motley Rice partner and campaign contributor who orchestrated the state's public nuisance lawsuit against paint manufacturers. The committee vote was postponed from last week. (Earlier POL posts.)

In sort-of-related news, "American Association for Justice Honors Trial Lawyer Ron Motley with Lifetime Achievement Award." Motley will receive the honor at the AAJ's summer convention next month in Vancouver, B.C.

Before breaking for the Memorial Day reces, Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives had hoped to push through on the final Friday H.R. 5175, the DISCLOSE Act, to limit speech in response to the Citizens United v. FEC decision. But the House Rules Committee canceled its committee meeting and the bill never made it to the floor.

Looking at the both the Rules Committee and House floor schedule for next week, we find no mention of the bill. Have the faux passions cooled, partisan motivations waned? Doubt it, but the bill's absence is curious.

On the Senate side, the Judiciary Committee has items of interest. Tuesday morning the full committee holds a hearing, "The Risky Business of Big Oil: Have Recent Court Decisions and Liability Caps Encouraged Irresponsible Corporate Behavior?" So far the only witnesses scheduled are Christopher Jones of Keogh, Cox and Wilson of Baton Rouge; Jack Coleman, managing partner, EnergyNorthAmerica, LLC, and formerly a Republican counsel for the House Committee on Natural Resources; and Tom Galligan, president, Colby Sawyer College in New London, NH.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on judicial nominations, including the controversial nomination of Rhode Island trial lawyer and lead paint litigator John "Jack" McConnell to be U.S. District Court Judge. Also on the schedule is President Obama's nomination to the Second Circuit of Robert Chatigny, a U.S. District Court judge in Connecticut. The Washington Times had a tough editorial recently on Chatigny's record that also criticized McConnell, "Sexual sadism, unleaded."

At NRO this morning, I argued that it was important to keep an eye on judicial nominations other than Elena Kagan's to the Supreme Court:

[I]n 1986, the Democrats in the Senate were so focused on attacking William Rehnquist -- whom Ronald Reagan had chosen to elevate to chief justice of the Supreme Court -- that they made nary a noise about Reagan's pick to succeed Rehnquist as an associate justice. Thus it was that Antonin Scalia was confirmed to sit for life on the highest court in the land with 98 senators in favor, and none against.

It's incumbent on those of us who care about the judiciary to keep this in mind as the nation's attention focuses on Elena Kagan. Only a tiny fraction of cases decided by the appellate courts are granted review by the Supreme Court, which means that those lower appellate benches are usually the courts of last resort in the federal system. And because so many cases never make it even that far, federal trial courts wield enormous power, too.

I focused on three nominees of concern:

  • Goodwin Liu, my law school classmate (see previous posts on this site);

  • Louis Butler, of Wisconsin Supreme Court lead paint and med-mal fame (see ealier posts here); and

  • Jack McConnell, the plaintiffs' lawyer who was Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's symbiotic partner in Rhode Island's $3 billion-lead-paint-verdict fiasco (see posts here, and earlier writings here and here).

Liu's nomination was voted out of the Judiciary Committee today on a straight (12-7) party-line vote.

Our readers may recall that Butler's nomination also passed out of Judiciary last year on a 12-7 party-line vote but wasn't acted upon by the full body; and that the president resubmitted his nomination this January.

McConnell's hearings before Judiciary were scheduled for this afternoon. As Carter reported, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce came out strongly against this nomination on Tuesday, and my piece today in NRO was joined by critical editorials in the Washington Times and American Spectator.

In Rhode Island, campaigning on failure - PointOfLaw Forum

Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch, a Democrat running for governor, is actually campaigning on having lost a lawsuit. From AP's report on a candidate forum, "6 Rhode Island candidates for governor discuss childhood poverty at interfaith forum":

When the candidates were asked about protecting children, Democrat Patrick Lynch touted his record as two-term attorney general, including suing former lead paint companies for making a toxic product.

The state won a jury verdict in 2006 that could have cost three companies billions of dollars, but the decision was overturned two years later by the state Supreme Court.

"It's still used for political potshots, but I was the only one who stood up," Lynch said.

Stood up and continued the legally suspect public nuisance lawsuit started by Lynch's predecessor, AG Sheldon Whitehouse, before finally losing! (Supreme Court opinion here.)

State of Rhode Island v. Lead Industries Association, Inc., et al. case is in the news again this week because the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday will hold a hearing on the nomination of John J. "Jack" McConnell, Jr., to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Rhode Island. McConnell is the Motley Rice attorney who, on a contingency basis, "led the trial team representing the State of Rhode Island in the public nuisance litigation against the major former manufacturers of lead paint."

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform just issued a statement opposing McConnell's nomination. Lisa Rickard, ILR President, said:

In addition to earning a lackluster rating from the American Bar Association, Mr. McConnell has defined his plaintiffs' lawyer career by suing employers based on controversial legal theories. For example, he has spent a large part of the past decade advancing a misguided interpretation of the public nuisance theory in lead paint litigation, which was rejected by four state supreme courts, including the unanimous rejection by the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

Nina Totenberg's various Morning Edition reports this morning on the expected nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court included these facts.

  • Her presence would result in three female justices on the nine-member court for the first time in its history.
  • If confirmed, she also would become the third Jewish justice on the current court, which has six Catholics.
  • With Stevens' exit, there would be no Protestants.

But what clan does she belong to?

Oh, right. It's Harvard Law.

Elsewhere in controversial court nominations, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on judicial nominations, including that of John J. "Jack" McConnell, Jr., to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Rhode Island. McConnell, a partner at Motley Rice, is Rhode Island's leading trial lawyer, one of the original tobacco attorneys, and a generous campaign contributor to the state's Democrats. (He and his wife, $700,000 over a decade!) McConnell and then-Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse (now a U.S. Senator) ginned up the public nuisance suit against paint manufacturers, eventually thrown out by the Rhode Island Supreme Court. (Earlier Point of Law post.)

On Friday, the Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on the nomination of Goodwin Liu to serve on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Republicans delayed a vote scheduled for last week on Liu. Unfortunately, the vote is being cast as a warm-up to the Kagan confirmation battle, diverting attention from Liu's far-out record, which Liu implicitly renounced at his hearing. We liked this Ed Whelan headline, "Goodwin Liu's Ambition Exceeds Even His Inexperience."

UPDATE (2:15 p.m.): Eric Turkewitz, author of the New York Personal Injury Law Blog, takes note of Kagan's thin experience in the private sector. From "Elena Kagan: The Three-Year Hole in the Resume":

President Obama on Wednesday nominated Rhode Island's most prominent trial lawyer and a generous campaign contributor, John J. "Jack" McConnell, to be a U.S. District Court judge. McConnell is the managing partner at Motley Rice (bio) and was one of primary figures behind the tobacco lawsuits of the 1990s.

McConnell also joined then Rhode Island Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse in dreaming up the public nuisance suit against paint manufacturers. In 2008, the state Supreme Court overturned the 2006 verdict against Sherwin-Williams Co., NL Industries Inc. and Millennium Holdings, but not before cities and states produced a wave of copycat lawsuits seeking to twist traditional public nuisance law into a new, all-encompassing brand of product liability law.

Whitehouse, now a U.S. Senator, and his Democratic colleague Jack Reed recommended McConnell for the judgeship in April 2009. (News release.) As the Wall Street Journal editorialized at the time:

Mr. McConnell and his firm helped pioneer the practice of soliciting public officials to bring lawsuits in which the private lawyers are paid a percentage of any judgment or settlement. The law firms front the costs of litigation and are compensated if the suit is successful. But such contingency-fee arrangements inevitably raise questions of pay to play. And private lawyers with state power and a financial stake in the outcome of a case can't be counted on to act in the interest of justice alone.

So, yes, McConnell is a transformative political figure, which is not what one normally asks for in a trial judge.

Around the web, December 8 - PointOfLaw Forum

  • Searle Center at Northwestern releases new interim report on how creditor claims fare in arbitration and in court;
  • Previewing the Supreme Court arguments on "honest services fraud" law [WSJ Law Blog]
  • Trial lawyers ask Missouri Supreme Court to strike down legislated damage limits [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
  • Three Kane County, Ill. judicial candidates won't accept money from attorneys, are scoffed at by those who do [Daily Herald]
  • "Pigs get fat, Mississippi got slaughtered" in AG Hood's Zyprexa-pricing suit [Beck & Herrmann]
  • Jack McConnell of Motley Rice, picked by Rhode Island senators for federal judgeship, was generous political donor who recycled tobacco money into lead-paint crusade [Public Nuisance Wire and more, Providence Journal]

John J. "Jack" McConnell Jr. of South Carolina-based Motley Rice, considered a key architect of the close alliance between the trial bar and the Rhode Island Democratic Party that led up to the state's failed litigation against lead paint companies, has been tagged for a seat on the state's federal district court by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed (both D-R.I.). [Providence Journal via Genova] As I noted eight years ago (see also this update from David Nieporent and this summary from Jim Copland), an investigation by Forbes found that after McConnell opened a Motley branch office in Providence, the firm quickly established itself as Rhode Island's largest political contributor for the 2000 elections, and McConnell himself became treasurer of the state party (and a key donor ever since, including to campaigns of Reed and Whitehouse). Whitehouse (as state AG) then proceeded to hire the Motley firm to conduct the state's much-publicized lawsuit seeking to assign the costs of lead paint cleanup to companies that produced the paint many decades earlier. That suit would have yielded enormous returns (and legal fees) had it succeeded, but in the event proved to be too drastic a stretch of legal principles for the courts to accept. For McConnell, though, at least, if not for many of the others involved, the whole episode seems to have resulted in a happy ending.

Lawyer Lead-ership - PointOfLaw Columns

James R. Copland

(Reprinted from City Journal, Spring 2006)

In its quest for profits, America's trial bar keeps finding new potential defendants, new theories of liability, and new ways to manipulate the political system. The lawyers' latest targets, paint manufacturers, find themselves under fire for lawfully making lead-based paint 30 to 50 years ago.

Concerns that such paint causes lead poisoning in children have led many states and localities to adopt "abatement" regulations, as any New York homeowner, landlord, or tenant well knows. The trial lawyers� new suits do not seek redress for injured children, however, but rather for the state, under the theory that lead paint generated a "public nuisance" and that the state needs money to clean it up in an estimated 240,000 contaminated homes. If this theory brings to mind the state-sponsored suits that led to the multibillion-dollar tobacco settlement, it should, because the tactics, and even some of the key players, are the same.

Last month, the lawyers hit pay dirt when a Rhode Island jury found three paint companies�Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries, and Millennium Holdings�liable to the state. Before getting to the seedy details, let's start with the scientific facts. Unlike tobacco, lead paint is a minor public health problem at worst. Yes, we now know that lead poisoning can impair children's neural development, though the level of risk is open to debate. Safety concerns resulted in the relegation of lead paint to outdoor use as early as the 1950s; by 1978, laws had banned it entirely.

Since the late 1970s, blood lead levels in children have fallen dramatically, owing partly to reduced lead-paint exposure, but mainly to the virtual elimination of lead in drinking water and automobile gasoline. Just how much safer are our kids today? Using the cautious threshold pushed these days by the Centers for Disease Control (ten micrograms per deciliter, much tougher than the 25-microgram level established for lead poisoning 15 years ago), the percentage of young children with elevated blood lead levels has fallen 98 percent. The most recent estimates from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys show only 1.6 percent of children aged one to five above the CDC threshold, a far cry from the 77.8 percent who failed to meet the CDC's current standard in the late 1970s.
Such figures should be cause for celebration. But zealous public health advocates�often trial bar�funded�have continued to press for ever-lower lead exposure levels. In long-developed areas, such as northeastern cities, the presence of lead paint is substantially higher than in many parts of the country. But large local variations suggest a clear regulatory remedy. For instance, one study found that Providence, Rhode Island's children had three times the lead-poisoning level of those in nearby Worcester, Massachusetts. Unlike Rhode Island, Massachusetts requires that landlords abate lead paint in homes with children.

Rather than making low-income landlords clean up their act, however, Rhode Island chose to sue the companies that long ago legally manufactured lead paint. Notwithstanding the state's nominal position as plaintiff, it's important to realize that the trial bar itself is the driving force behind the lead-paint lawsuits, as it was when the states sued tobacco companies. Fittingly, the central player in the Rhode Island paint suit is the law firm of Ron Motley, one of the principal attorneys behind the tobacco suits. For its role in the Rhode Island lawsuit, Motley's crew stands to take home nearly 17 percent of any settlement.

How did Motley do it? Much in the same way that he and attorney Richard Scruggs scored the tobacco litigation: by co-opting political leaders. In the tobacco cases, Scruggs persuaded attorney general Mike Moore, his fellow Mississippian, to hire him and Motley to sue tobacco makers for smoking-related medical costs�after Scruggs contributed generously to Moore's campaign and flew him around for appearances in his private jet.

Motley has followed Scruggs's tobacco playbook to the letter. A South Carolinian, Motley began to take a keen interest in Rhode Island's notoriously corrupt politics. Opening an office in Providence, Motley's partner John McConnell became the state's Democratic Party�s treasurer. In the 2000 election cycle, their firm was the state�s largest political contributor, with over $500,000 for federal campaigns alone. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Rhode Island attorney general Sheldon Whitehouse appointed Motley's firm to be the state�s lawyers to sue paint manufacturers.

The resulting Rhode Island verdict makes a mockery of the basic principles of tort law. Typically, to win a lawsuit, there needs to be an injured party. Not here, where not a single injured party�or a single house constituting a "nuisance"�made it into the evidence. Typically, for liability, a plaintiff needs to show that the defendant caused its harm. Not here, where the judge instructed the jury that it could find the defendants guilty without even finding that any of the paint companies had manufactured any paint actually used in the state.

It's not yet clear how much the paint companies will have to pay Rhode Island. The good news is that the judge determined that the paint companies owe no punitive damages. Press reports and market reaction to the case have focused on that significant fact, not on the key finding of liability�which shows just how skewed the expectations for our legal system have become.

What's certain is that trial lawyers smell blood in the water, and other state attorneys general see an opportunity for cash. In addition to pending cases in New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Illinois, Massachusetts and Connecticut are now exploring paint suits, with the trial lawyers in the lead.

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