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News Posted on July 25, 2013

Professor Frank Comments for Media on Paint Industry Suit

Professor of Environmental Practice Richard Frank commented for media including National Public Radio affiliate KQED (San Francisco) and the San Jose Mercury News on a lawsuit filed by California cities and counties seeking to force companies that produced and marketed lead-based paint to pay nearly $1 billion in removal and other remediation costs.  Trial of that case is currently underway.

"In order to be successful, the cities and counties are going to need to demonstrate the toxicity and public harm, and I don't think there's going to be too much dispute about that," Frank said in a panel discussion broadcast on KQED's Forum with Michael Krasny.  "Far more controversial and in dispute among the litigants is who's responsible for it, when the paint company defendants learned about this, and whether they continued to market a known dangerous product after they were aware of its toxicity."

The industry has succeeded in fending off similar lawsuits in other states, but California may be different, in part because the current suit is based upon public nuisance laws that have "a long and robust history" of use in an environmental context in this state.  In the 1880s, California courts relied upon such laws to shut down the hydraulic mining industry, Frank noted.

Frank, a 1974 graduate of King Hall, is a leader in the field of environmental law and the founding Director of the California Environmental Law and Policy Center at UC Davis School of Law.


San Jose Mercury News