WASHINGTON, March 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The following release was issued
today by the National Paint & Coatings Association:
A panel of lawyers whose former titles include US Attorney General, US
Solicitor General and Attorney General of Virginia yesterday afternoon urged a
Maryland House Committee to reject a bill that would remove the burden of
proof of causation from lawyers suing lead pigment makers and paint
manufacturers for the health hazards of poorly maintained lead paint in old
housing. American companies effectively stopped making interior lead paint in
Under the bill, lawyers would not have to prove that a particular
company's product was used at a particular site, only that the company was
making paint or paint additives containing lead around the time the site was
painted. The company could then be required to pay a portion of any award
equal to its share of the market at that time.
This legal theory, called "market share liability," has been consistently
rejected by Maryland courts and an overwhelming majority of other courts that
have considered it. No state permits the application of this theory in
lawsuits concerning lead paint.
In testimony prepared for the House Judiciary Committee, former Attorney
General Benjamin Civiletti urged defeat of the measure stating that such a law
would "lead to unfair and grossly distorted findings of liability."
Former Solicitor General of the United States and constitutional law
expert, Walter E. Dellinger, in his testimony, described the proposal as
suffering "from grave constitutional infirmities." He further stated that the
proposal "exceeds the limits of permissible retroactivity" under the Due
Process Clause and also violates its "prohibition against arbitrary and
Andrew Miller, the former Virginia Attorney General representing the
National Paint & Coatings Association, made a similar assessment and
aggressively moved to refute allegations made earlier in the hearing by the
bill's principal advocate, an attorney representing the Baltimore law firm
suing former lead pigment makers and paint manufacturers, among others.
Miller documented paint industry actions to protect the public from lead
paint hazards years before laws required such actions and cited judicial
findings of no lead or paint industry conspiracy against the public health.
In rebutting bill proponents' charges that lead paint was promoted long after
its dangers were widely known, he produced actual Federal Specifications
requiring lead in government purchased exterior paint from as late as 1968,
thirteen years after the industry voluntarily adopted a standard, sponsored by
the American Academy of Pediatrics, which curtailed the use of lead in
Miller concluded his testimony by describing to the Committee the
CLEARCorps program through which the paint industry, along with the Shriver
Center at the University of Maryland (UMBC), the AmeriCorps program and the
Department of Housing & Urban Development, has been working for the past four
years to develop and implement effective, low cost in-place management
techniques to provide "lead safe" housing and innovative lead education
programs in Baltimore and a number of other cities.
The Committee is not expected to vote on the measure for several days and
a companion bill is yet to be heard in the Senate.
SOURCE National Paint & Coatings Association