Breaking: Rhode Island lead paint decision overturned

So AP reports. More details as they become available.

9:43: AP/Boston Globe reports a dramatic rejection of public-nuisance theory, holding the case should’ve been dismissed years ago. Good news that. The Rhode Island Supreme Court decision was unanimous.

5:00: Here is the opinion itself. James Beck has the most comprehensive analysis of the opinion so far; Walter gives thorough background at Point of Law as well as a roundup of other links. The defendants and NAM have released statements; Motley Rice claims they were doing it for the children, which doesn’t explain their self-serving settlement with DuPont or why they asked for a highly inefficient remediation remedy that would have maximized their attorneys’ fees.

Also: Jonathan Turley (who I just learned has a year-old blog with over a thousand posts), who, to his credit, has opposed such lawsuits; OpenMarket; Jane Genova; Publius. Attorney General Patrick Lynch is unhappy about the legal setback to his campaign contributors constituents.

Existing abatement efforts already required of landlords under Rhode Island law mean that lead paint exposure is at an all-time low in the state–evidence that was excluded at trial.

And more: ShopFloor; NFIB.


  • […] Island’s attorney general in a huge lead-paint lawsuit.  The companies had been found liable for “public nuisance.”  The trial court’s ruling would have led to paint companies paying well over a billion […]

  • […] (5:35 p.m.): Ted Frank has more commentary and links at, here. He remarks:  “Attorney General Patrick Lynch is unhappy about the legal setback to his […]

  • It is too bad the decision also ruled that the AG can hire outside contingency counsel to pursue such cases. It seems hard to believe that the same justices could unanimously vote against nuisance liability and for 3rd party prosecutions. Maybe there was some sort of Brown v. Board-type compromise.