The Alliance of American Insurers welcomed a ruling by a Cook County Illinois Circuit Court judge that threw out a lawsuit filed against a number of companies that had reportedly, at one time, manufactured lead-based paint.
The case involved the City of Chicago suing companies like Sherwin-Williams to recover costs associated with testing for lead-paint exposure.
“The court’s ruling is consistent with several other state courts across the country,” said Ann Spragens, the Alliance’s senior vice president and general counsel. “Since 1989, more that 40 lawsuits have been filed, and none have prevailed.
“Hard cases make bad law when sound legal principles give way to the understandable temptation to try to address human tragedy. Here, the court did the right thing to hold to sound principles and find the litigation defective, even though the underlying social problem of lead paint is deeply troubling. This ruling will clear the way to shift attention to other more appropriate means to address it outside the court room.”
The only case still awaiting trial involves Rhode Island v. Lead Industries. A jury failed to reach a unanimous decision in a 2002 trial against several former manufacturers of lead-based paint. The case is scheduled for a new trial next spring.
Keith Lessner, vice president of safety and environment for the Alliance, said rather than filing lawsuits, time and efforts should be focused in other directions.
“Public health officials recognize that addressing hazards means focusing on prevention and that the next frontier is public education -teaching people how to avoid exposures, regardless of the source.”
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