August 9, 2008

Lynch Opposes Reimbursing Paint Companies

PROVIDENCE -- Three paint companies want to be reimbursed for the costs of defending against a public-nuisance lawsuit filed by the state, but Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch is opposing that in court.

Last month, the state Supreme Court overturned a first-in-the- nation jury verdict that found Sherwin-Williams Co., NL Industries Inc. and Millennium Holdings LLC liable for creating a public nuisance by manufacturing a toxic product, lead paint.

Lawyers for the companies are now seeking a refund from the state.

Lynch's office said in a statement yesterday that the attorney general has filed oppositions in Providence County Superior Court in response to the paint companies' motions. "While there is no question that the defendants have every right to challenge the case and have availed themselves of that right at every opportunity, it's astounding that the lead-paint companies involved in the litigation have the audacity to claim that they are entitled to costs associated with the $100-million defense they mounted, and the more than 100 high-priced lawyers they used to avoid responsibility for the toxic poisoning of Rhode Island's children," Lynch stated.

As a starting point, the companies on July 24 asked a judge to force the state to pay more than $242,000 for the cost of a special master who evaluated cleanup plans, transcript fees and conference call charges.

The judge has not ruled on the request.

"In our response to the defendants' motions, we make it clear that the state is not responsible for picking up the tab for these corporations' defense counsel, or the companies' failure to mitigate their costs, and we will vigorously present our argument before Judge [Michael] Silverstein in court one week from today," Lynch said.

With wire reports.

Originally published by Staff Report.

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