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April 3, 2007

U.S. Chamber Labels Lead Paint Lawsuit ‘Overreach’ by Ohio Attorney General

Washington, DC—U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform President Lisa A. Rickard released the following statement today on the lawsuit filed against paint manufacturers by Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann:

“Lawsuits that rely on the novel legal theory of ‘public nuisance’ are a classic case of overreaching by a state attorney general. Attorney General Dann’s lawsuit twists the purpose of public nuisance law and misapplies it because he can’t make a case under traditional product liability law.

“Lead paint remediation remains an important issue, especially in areas with older housing. However, to target paint manufacturers with this kind of junk lawsuit puts at jeopardy the good-paying jobs of Ohioans who currently work in the industry, and will almost certainly cause the companies to look elsewhere to grow.”

Dann filed suit yesterday against paint manufacturers and chemical companies that he alleges made and sold lead paint knowing it presented health hazards. Dann asserts the companies violated the state’s public nuisance law, which precludes a number of defenses allowed under traditional product liability law. The Ohio legislature passed a statute earlier this year limiting the use of public nuisance claims, which was vetoed by Governor Strickland, and is now the subject of a separate lawsuit.

The mission of the Institute for Legal Reform is to make America’s legal system simpler, fairer, and faster for everyone. It seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state, and local levels. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation, representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.

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