July 8, 2008

Lynch, Whitehouse Hurt R.I. Economy

Unlike New York Atty. Gen. Andrew Cuomo, who has finally shown enough sense to abandon his predecessor's vindictive lawsuit against former New York Stock Exchange chief Dick Grasso, Rhode Island Atty. Gen. Patrick Lynch is standing by comparably misguided lead-paint litigation initiated by his predecessor -- even though the Rhode Island Supreme Court has now unanimously declared it meritless ("R.I. high court overturns lead-paint verdict," July 2).

Lead-paint "products poisoned our infants and children -- and continue to poison our infants and children -- while bringing great profits to the companies that made and sold them," Lynch said in disagreeing with the court. Yet the defendant companies had voluntarily ended sales of such products in 1955, long before 1978 government regulations required them to. Thus a reasonable person might conclude that property owners, not the former makers of perfectly legal products, should more fairly be asked to shoulder the burden for lead-paint abatement today.

In any case, it's no surprise that Mr. Lynch's activist, litigious attitude, like that of his predecessor, Sheldon Whitehouse (now a Democratic U.S. senator), has helped keep Rhode Island's rate of real GDP growth well below the national average while the unemployment rate remains considerably higher.



The writer is director of communications for the American Tort Reform Association.

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