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RI Supremes overturn lead paint judgment

Via BeloBlog:

The Rhode Island Supreme Court today reversed a lower court’s judgments in favor of the state in its suit against companies that manufactured and sold lead paint in Rhode Island.

The court reversed the Superior Court’s decision calling for Millennium Holdings, NL Industries and Sherwin-Williams to participate in an abatement program to clean houses that may have cost the companies upwards of $2.4 billion.

The court also upheld the judgment in favor of ARCO.

In a statement released with the decision, the court said it did not mean to minimize the severity of the harm that thousands of children in Rhode Island have suffered as a result of lead poisoning.

“Our hearts go out to those children whose lives forever have been changed by the poisonous presence of lead. But, however grave the problem of lead poisoning is in Rhode Island, public nuisance law simply does not provide a remedy for this harm. The state has not and cannot allege facts that would fall within the parameters of what would constitute public nuisance under Rhode Island law.”

Read the decision.

Just from the narrow perspective of politics, this represents a setback for AG Patrick Lynch, whose 2010 gubernatorial campaign might benefit, as I wrote in this story, from the distribution of billions in lead-remediation money.

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