What Others Are Saying About Lead Paint Litigation

“This could precipitate the worst plunge in California home values since the housing crash of 2007.”… “[The ruling will have] frightening consequences.”
—Giuseppe Veneziano, president of the Los Angeles County Boards of Real Estate
(Quoted in: Legal Newsline, Jan. 13, 2014) “Before continuing on with this lawsuit, I believe that the [Los Angeles County] Board [of Supervisors] should carefully consider the impact on the housing market.”
—Giuseppe Veneziano, president of the Los Angeles County Boards of Real Estate
(Quoted in: Legal Newsline, Aug. 15, 2013)
“To satisfy the inspection and abatement processes will cost thousands of dollars. Prospects for these homes will be turned off. Insurance, mortgages and property values will all be affected…It’ll be a nightmare.”
—Warren Rohn, executive director of the Los Angeles County Board of Realtors
(Quoted in: Legal Newsline, July 17, 2013) “The lawsuit is even less appealing because the industry itself, as far back as the early 1900s, funded impartial research into the risks. When risks from children eating paint chips were first identified in 1948, the industry worked with public health officials to investigate.”
—Steven Thomas, “When Getting The Lead Out Will Actually Slow Us Down,”
Investor’s Business Daily, July 5, 2013 “The case shouldn’t have survived this long because public nuisance laws simply don’t apply. Besides, the dangers of lead are already being effectively mitigated in California.”
—James Copland, director of the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Legal Policy, “Lead paint: All over but the lawsuits,” Los Angeles Times, Aug. 23, 2013 “Overall, the reduction of lead exposure since 1978 has been a public policy success. Children’s exposure has dropped more than 99% since the late 1970s.”
—James Copland, director of the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Legal Policy, “Lead paint: All over but the lawsuits,” Los Angeles Times, Aug. 23, 2013 “The suit is especially odd since California has some of the lowest blood lead levels in the country. […] That sounds more like a public health success than cause for a lawsuit. Lead paint that has long been painted over doesn’t pose a health threat if it is properly maintained.”
—Editorial: California’s Lead Zeppelin, The Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2013 “The remedy the plaintiffs are seeking—stripping away old lead paint—actually is not what public health experts recommend. Instead, federal and state environmental and health officials generally urge that lead paint be left intact and maintained.”
Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Aug. 16, 2013 “The bottom line is that with little scientific evidence in their favor, trial lawyers are moving the goal posts to make it easier for them to score a massive verdict in this case. The fact that the paint removal may stir up lead dust and may cause more harm than good is less than an afterthought compared to the millions in potential fees.”
—Tom Scott, executive director of California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, writing on the CALA Blog, Aug. 9, 2013 “California already requires landlords to address any existing lead-based paint dangers. It is the failure to maintain painted surfaces that creates an immediate health hazard.”
Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Aug. 16, 2013 “The plaintiffs argue that the companies knew lead was toxic as early as 1900, but the quotations in question clearly refer to large quantities employed in industrial settings, not tiny quantities trapped in the paint on your walls; we lacked the analytical and epidemiological tools in the early 20th century to detect small, widespread effects.”
— Megan McArdle, “Getting the Liability Out of Lead Paint,”
Bloomberg View, Aug. 12, 2013 “The State had laws in regard to the quality and composition of paint—and the industry met them. Now that the regulations have changed, the industry is being sued because they did what they were ordered decades ago.”
—Stephen Frank, “Why is California in a Depression? $900 Million lawsuit Against Paint Companies—for Paint Jobs Going Back Decades,” California Political News & Views,
July 15, 2013 “No matter what plaintiffs’ lawyers allege, it would take quite a powerful crystal ball to know in the 1920s — when the federal government was endorsing the use of lead interior paint — that enhanced scientific knowledge would later find that product to be dangerous.”
—Lisa A. Rickard, “Lead paint: California court ruling is ridiculous,”
San Jose Mercury News , Jan. 31, 2014 “Many of the key business decisions being sued over took place closer to Abraham Lincoln’s time than to our own, and if the companies had gone to twenty leading lawyers of the day and asked, `could this ever lead to nuisance liability under such-and-such facts’ would have been told `of course not’.”
—Walter Olson, senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies
(Quoted in: Bloomberg View, Dec. 18, 2013) “In 1984, Winston Smith was entrusted with rewriting history. “We are at war with Eastasia. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.” Today, selling lead based paint would be bad, so Judge Kleinberg concludes that it has always been bad. Trouble is, it hasn’t. But hey, it’s all about removing paint from poorly maintained homes, and who cares if we sacrifice the Rule of Law to make shareholders of innocent corporations pay for it? Welcome to our Orwellian tort travesty.”
—Michael Krauss, “A California Judge Terrorizes Business With An Orwellian Tort Travesty,” Forbes, Dec. 19, 2013 “The fact that lead paint was legal at the time (and in fact specified by government agencies), that it was applied to the walls by property owners who valued it for its ease of cleaning, and that the last of it might have been made in the 1930s, matters not to [Judge] Kleinberg or the private lawyers who pursued this case on behalf of the cities in exchange for the change of a 17% contingency fee.”
— Daniel Fisher, “Slumlords Are The Big Winners In California Judge’s $1 Billion Lead-Paint Ruling,” Forbes, Dec. 19, 2013 “Despite losing lead paint cases in other states, trial lawyers won a $1.1 billion verdict in California in December. If not overturned, it will make multiple trial lawyers there wealthy (they stand to share about $200 million) and reward negligent slumlords by fixing their properties at paint companies’ expense.”
— Editorial: Nobody wins when state officials deputize trial lawyers
The Washington Examiner, March 18, 2014 “…Manufacturers of consumer products will face new uncertainties in the safe design and sale of any product containing chemical substances that may be hazardous if incorrectly used or disposed of. Even if no other state follows California’s precedent, the state’s large market for consumer products standing alone will compel action by manufacturers and the global suppliers of the materials for their products. Thus, beyond the significant liability imposed upon the lead paint defendants, this case bears watching by all consumer product companies as California courts consider this intersection of product liability and public nuisance law.”
— Peter Hsiao and Andrew C. Stanley, “Public Nuisance Case May Change PL Law In Calif.,” Law360, Feb. 5, 2014

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