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Op-Ed: Ohio Plays Politics in Paint Makers Suit Dan Pero CFA

Ohio Attorney General Dann Sues 10 Paint Companies

April 2, 2007 -- AG Marc Dann, below, has sued 10 companies, including Sherwin-Williams and DuPont, on the grounds that they knowingly manufactured and sold dangerous paint to Ohio citizens.

Dann, a Democrat, is pursuing a line embraced by other state attorneys general and activists, including the personal injury lawyer industry. The objective is to sue companies that produced products that were legal and considered safe by their contemporary standards, but which have since been restricted or banned.

The lawsuit is based on the public nuisance theory of law for the production of lead based paint. It appears this suit is modeled after the State of Rhode Island lawsuit. The other actions taken were to file a motion to consolidate the City of Columbus lawsuit against paint and pigment manufacturers with the State of Ohio 's lawsuit, and to request a motion to stay the pending challenge of Governor Strickland's veto of SB 117.

In a highly unusual move just hours after taking office on Monday, January 8, Gov. Ted Strickland vetoed a key business-backed bill that former Gov. Bob Taft expected to become law without his signature. Sending shock waves through the Statehouse community, Gov. Strickland asked newly elected Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to return Sub. SB 117 to him so he could veto it. The governorís move immediately raised questions about its legality and set-up a standoff between the executive and legislative branches of state government that may be decided by the judicial branch. SB 117 was amended during the 126th General Assemblyís lame duck-session to include several important provisions supported by the Ohio Chamber and other business organizations.

The bill clarifies that cities can only bring actions against manufacturers of products, including those who made lead-pigment paint, under the stateís products liability statutes. Legislative clarification became necessary when personal injury lawyers began an aggressive campaign to convince Ohio cities to use their public nuisance powers to bring actions against lead-paint manufacturers, thereby circumventing recently enacted civil justice reforms. Similar to the asbestos crisis, these lawsuits could have a devastating economic effect on Ohio companies and result in huge job losses.

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An update on the legal landscape in Ohio

 

GENERAL TORT REFORM COURT CHALLENGE

Ohio's strong general tort reform legislation (SB 80) is being challenged in US District Court. Although premature at the moment, we will likely be looking to do amicus action in support. Our counsel doesn't believe this case will be especially significant for decisions on SB 80, but it bears watching.

 

ASBESTOS COURT CHALLENGES

On Friday January 20, the Ohio Court of Appeals for the Eighth District finally issued a decision on the constitutionality of HB 292 challenge filed by a number of labor unions in 2004 (just before HB 292 became effective). You will recall that this challenge requested the Court issue writs of mandamus, prohibition, and procedendo, which essentially asked the Court to: (1) compel the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to enforce Ohio law prior to the enactment of HB 292; (2) prohibit the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court from enforcing HB 292; (3) compel the Court to move forward in all asbestos cases using Ohio law as it existed prior to HB 292.

 

The Court of Appeals dismissed the challenge because it held that the writs were not the appropriate remedy for raising constitutional claims. The Court did not address the issue of the constitutionality of HB 292. The Ohio Alliance for Civil Justice participated as an amicus on this case.

 

OHIO SUPREME COURT RACE

The State Republican Central Committee this past weekend selected former Republican state senator Robert Cupp of Lima to run for the open Supreme Court seat created by the announced retirement of Justice Resnick. Bob Cupp, currently a state appeals judge would be an excellent addition to the court. Incumbent Justice Terrence O'Donnell will need to defend his seat against challenger Judge O'Neil.

 

OHIO PROSPERITY PROJECT

The Ohio joint business community effort to provide employee communication material on public policy issues is organizing efforts for the 2006 statewide election year. A PR/Communications firm is expected to be retained soon to produce the materials.

 

(Courtesy Ohio Manufacturer's Association)

 
Party Candidate Slates for Supreme Court Remain Undetermined as Filing Deadline Nears

January 12, 2006, Ohio - With the candidate-filing deadline for the May primary little more than a month away, the slate of potential entrants for two seats at stake on the Ohio Supreme Court remains undetermined.

 

Republicans said they are certain of one of their candidates: incumbent Justice Terrence O'Donnell. Elected in 2004 to serve out the remaining term of former Justice Deborah Cook, he will seek election to a full six-year term of his own.

 

Five appeals court judges from across the state have met with Republican officials to discuss seeking the party nomination to challenge for a second court seat now held by incumbent Democrat Justice Alice Resnick. Justice Resnick, convicted of drunken driving and handed a public reprimand last year, has not announced whether she will run for re-election.

 

No Republicans have declared for the seat, but five have talked with party officials. They are Judges Susan Brown, 10th District, Columbus; Michael Corrigan, 8th District, Cleveland; Bob Cupp, 3rd District, Lima; Mary DeGenaro, 7th District, Youngstown; and Stephen Powell, 12th District, Middletown.

 

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Ohio CALA Fundraiser Declared A Success

Oct 10, 2005 - Ohio Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse declared their Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week  fundraiser a "huge success", according to Executive Director Jeff Longstreth. The group set out to raise $20,000 in order to air their newest TV ad, "The Game", on FOX News in primetime across the state.

In a letter to the group's supporters, Longstreth congratulated the efforts of those who contributed to the fundraiser. The ad was meant to educate the public about the importance of lawsuit abuse awareness, and was part of a larger, nationwide week of tort reform activities.

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Posted January 24, 2006

Jeff Longstreth, Executive Director, Ohio Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse  discusses the upcoming election cycle in Ohio, and the prognosis for protecting past legal reform victories.

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 Opinion-Editorials

Lawsuit Lottery Gives Society the Finger

 May 17, 2005

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Authored by:

Jeff Longstreth

Ohio Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

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The Center for America mission is to educate, motivate and empower the public to support state liability reforms to end lawsuit abuse.   

 

If you know of or have authored an article or report that deserves recognition among corporate and public policy leaders, please send an email to LegalReform@lawexec.com Original material © 2007 Center for America.

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Ohio Business for Legal Reform

Ohio Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

Ohio Manufacturers Association

 

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 Legislative Schedule

In Session thru December 31, 2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kristyn Shayon

Director, Communications Services

American Justice Partnership

404-228-3261

CFA@lawexec.com

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