Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann filed a lawsuit April 2 against several paint manufacturers and chemical companies, including Sherwin-Williams and DuPont, alleging the companies violated the state's public nuisance law.
The AG's suit is similar to claims filed in Wisconsin and Rhode Island that allege companies that manufactured lead paint created a public nuisance by contaminating thousands of homes and public buildings. The Ohio AG's suit asks the court to order the paint manufacturers to detect and remove lead paint from every building in the state that is accessible to children, fund a public-education campaign about the dangers of lead and pay compensatory and punitive damages. The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform was quick to criticize the suit.
"Attorney General Dann's lawsuit twists the purpose of public nuisance law and misapplies it because he can't make a case under traditional product liability law," said chamber president Lisa A. Rickard in a statement.
Although the Ohio legislature passed a statute to limit public nuisance claims, there's an ongoing dispute in the state over whether Gov. Ted Strickland vetoed it within 10 days under Ohio law, or whether it passed into law without his signature.