Manufacturing group says lead paint ruling has ‘disturbing’ implications

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 356 views 

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has called out the California 6th District Court of Appeals for a ruling that it calls “alarming” and “anti-manufacturing,” using it as the impetus to call out what it deems to be concerted efforts among activists to weaken manufacturing in the United States.

The country’s largest trade association stated that a ruling in People vs. ConAgra requiring paint manufacturers to be held liable for removing lead paint in all homes built before 1951 in 10 California localities had “disturbing” implications.

“Manufacturers support strong protections against exposure to lead-based paint, but this lawsuit is not the way to achieve those protections,” said Linda Kelly, NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “We are extremely disappointed by Tuesday’s ruling and believe the court simply got it wrong.”

Kelly said the court’s interpretation of “public nuisance” law has been “soundly rejected” by courts in Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

“Plaintiffs’ lawyers have spent the past two decades shopping around for a sympathetic court somewhere in America that would buy into their misguided legal theory, and they finally found it in California. Their persistence isn’t surprising, however, given the financial incentives waiting for them,” Kelly said, adding that the “ridiculous” ruling was also “dangerous.”

“Today, it’s paint manufacturers potentially forced to pay for replacing paint that’s more than 66 years old in every impacted structure in some of the most populous counties in America. Tomorrow, it could be any other industry. If other courts buy into this theory, which defies traditional notions of tort law, all manufacturers — and the jobs they support — could be at risk as trial lawyers look for their next payoff.”

NAM and the Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action (MCLA) has launched the Manufacturers’ Accountability Project (MAP) to keep tabs on what it calls “a broader trend of opportunistic legal tactics being used to target manufacturers.”