The lead paint issue has been keeping Rhode Island (RI) courts, both Superior and Supreme, busy. The latest action has come from the RI Supreme Court which agreed to review a RI Superior Court ruling that found the Lead Hazard Mitigation Law unconstitutional. That law requires property owners to do three things: Take lead-hazard classes, inspect their property when a tenant moves, and then abate any lead hazards in that apartment.
The issue is that the Lead Hazard Mitigation Law doesn't apply to buildings in RI which are two and three units and are occupied by the owner. The Property Owners for Fair Application of Lead Laws brought the original lawsuit to Superior Court.
In Superior Court Judge Stephen J. Fortunato Jr. ruled that there was "no rational basis" for the exemption of two- and three-unit buildings which are owner-occupied. It was RI Attorney Patrick Lynch who requested the review of Judge Fortunato's decision by the Supreme Court.
What relationship does this legal development have to the RI lead paint saga (I, II and maybe a III)?
The defense had contended in RI lead paint II that the laws already on the books, if enforced, would provide an efficient remedy for the lead-paint hazards still in some RI residences. If the Lead Hazard Mitigation Law could be made more rational - that is, not allow any loopholes for certain types of property - the defense' position could be strengthened. We are all waiting to hear the court's response to motions by defendants Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries and Millennium Holdings for either a dismissal or a new trial, this time a separate trial for each of the three.