Sebok on the Rhode Island Supreme Court lead paint arguments

According to professor Tony Sebok, both sides botched the May 15 oral argument (available on webcast) over the multi-billion dollar lead-paint “public nuisance” judgment, but the plaintiffs botched it worse.  Sebok predicts “that the Rhode Island Supreme Court will understand what is at stake in this case, and do the right thing. It will act like a responsible common law court and interpret the doctrine of public nuisance in a principled way—which in this case means drawing the line between tort and public nuisance, and drawing that line in favor of the defendants.” A decision is expected by July 4.

(Disclosure: I purchased stock in Sherwin-Williams and NL Industries shortly after the oral argument.)


  • Hopefully the Rhode Island Supreme Court does the right thing here.

  • Born in 1924, I well remember how each house we lived in had lead-paint bubbles, and how we’d break them, little tiny chips falling to the ground. The smell of lead paint, as Dad painted our rooms regularly, and we aired them out for two or three days. Why aren’t we all brain-damaged? Maybe that’s why we went to WWI and WWII, crazy from lead paint. The whole country was covered in lead paint for decades. Even the Presidents were raised in homes with lead paint on the walls.