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States brief ~ WI Supreme Court extends risk theory to lead paint manufacturers

[JURIST] Leading Friday's states brief, the Wisconsin Supreme Court today extended [decision text] the "risk contribution theory" to lead paint manufacturers and allowed the suit of a 15-year old boy who can't prove which manufacturer produced the paint that may have injured him to continue. Risk contribution theory allows those who can not trace their injuries to a specific company to still collect damages if they can prove a product was dangerous, it created their injuries, the defendant marketed or produced it, and negligently produced or marketed it. Sherwin-Williams Co. [corporate website], E.I. DuPont De Nemours and Co. [corporate website], and American Cyanamid Co. are among the Defendants. AP has more.

In other state legal news ...

  • The Washington Supreme Court has struck down [text] an attempt to force a voter referendum on a bill passed by the legislature which reduced the number of votes needed for any legislative action that raises state revenue or requires revenue-neutral tax shifts. The court ruled the bill [text] was not subject to a referendum because it contained a valid emergency clause, and Justice Charles Johnson wrote for the majority, "The Washington Constitution and our jurisprudence dictate that the Legislature may suspend the right of the people to order a referendum on a bill where the bill is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or in support of the state government and its existing institutions." By allowing legislative action that raises state revenue or requires revenue-neutral tax shifts to pass by a majority vote in each house, the bill amends I-601, passed by voters in 1993, which requires that such measures be approved by a two-thirds majority of each house. The bill is effective for legislation enacted through June 30, 2007. AP has more.

  • The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled [text] that evidence can not be used against murder suspect Matthew Knapp because he was intentionally not advised of his Miranda rights. In 2003, the court threw out the same evidence [decision text] by finding an intentional violation of the suspect's rights against unlawful search and seizure, but in a related case the US Supreme Court ruled the evidence was admissible even without a Miranda warning because the suspect voluntarily gave police a statement. For the majority Justice Louis Butler wrote, "When law enforcement is encouraged to intentionally take unwarranted investigatory shortcuts to obtain convictions, the judicial process is systematically corrupted." Dissenter Jon Wilcox said the state constitution [PDF text] and US constitution are similar enough on rights against self-incrimination to prevent the state Supreme Court from departing from US Supreme Court interpretations. Wisconsin's Watertown Daily Times has more.

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