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Missouri high court rejects St. Louis lawsuit against lead paint manufacturers

[JURIST] The Missouri Supreme Court has rejected efforts by the city of St. Louis to recoup $15 million in lead paint removal costs from paint and pigment manufacturers. In its 4-3 opinion [text], the high court upheld a lower court's ruling, determining that the city's inability to connect any specific manufacturer to the paint at a particular cleanup site prohibited the city from recovering damages. The court held that under Missouri law, the city is required to demonstrate actual causation between the manufacturer and the lead paint public nuisance. St. Louis argued that the manufacturers should be found to be liable under the legal theory of market-share liability, which the Missouri Supreme Court rejected in 1984.

In February 2006, a Rhode Island jury found three lead paint manufacturers responsible for creating a public nuisance [JURIST report] that had contaminated thousands of homes and continued to poison children. The sale of lead paint was banned in 1978 after studies concluded that lead content caused serious health problems to children. In July 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court extended the "risk contribution theory" to lead-paint manufacturers [JURIST report] and allowed a suit filed against lead paint manufacturers to proceed. 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. AP has more.

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