Cases & Deals

Sherwin-Williams prevails in landmark public nuisance suit over lead pigment before Rhode Island Supreme Court

Client(s) Sherwin-Williams Company, The

The Rhode Island Supreme Court overturned a jury verdict against Jones Day client, The Sherwin-Williams Company, and other former lead pigment manufacturers, stating that the trial court should have dismissed the public nuisance claim at the outset. The Court said that the public nuisance claim was wrong as a matter of law, because "it departed from the traditional requirements of common law public nuisance." The Court further stated that "[t]he law of public nuisance never before has been applied to products, however harmful. Courts in other states consistently have rejected product-based public nuisance suits against lead pigment manufacturers, expressing a concern that allowing such a lawsuit would circumvent the basic requirements of products liability law." The Court kept the responsibility squarely on property owners to maintain their properties to keep children safe from lead hazards. This decision marks the end of nine years of litigation, including two trials.

State of Rhode Island v. Lead Industries Association, Inc., et al., No. 2004-63-M.P., No. 2006-158-Appeal, No. 2007-121-Appeal (PC 99-5226) (R.I. Sup. Ct. July 1, 2008)