Did you know Columbus joined East Cleveland, Toledo and Lancaster suing Sherwin-Williams?

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 12/18/2006 - 05:09.

One might think when the capital of our state sues one of the biggest companies in our state, Sherwin-Williams, which is based in the Plain Dealer's home town of Cleveland, and is defended by one of the world's most powerful law firms, also based in our hometown, seeking over $1 billion, that story would rank a few real column inches in the local paper... perhaps hit Section One, or Metro. Not in the Sherwin-Williams Plain Dealer...

I had read, in the PD Business section, Last Friday, under the glowing headline "Bill could thwart cities' lawsuits on lead paint", a significant 20 inch or so write up, gushing with pride, that Sherwin Williams and Jones Day had arranged for our state Republican legislature to enact legislation preventing the public from suing the lead poisoning industry over the public nuisance of lead poison. But, the fact that the next day the City of Columbus had joined East Cleveland, Toledo and Lancaster in suing Sherwin-Williams and others in the paint industry was just a sidebar in the PD's Saturday "Diary" column... item #2. While news of Columbus' Ohio State winning a football game has been big front page PD news for weeks, the fact there is a multi-billion dollar legal action in play, involving Columbus and two of Cleveland's biggest players, ranks four inches in the PD diary. And, of course, the Cleveland TV media didn't pick up the news at all.

The only reason I even knew Columbus had sued Sherwin-Williams was because an editorial and an opinion article in the Sunday PD, today, got me thinking about what wretched leadership we still have in Ohio, even after a very successful recent election, and that made me angry about the lack of concern here for due process in Ohio, as demonstrated by Legislative protection of Sherwin-Williams, and that got me doing some research on-line. The PD editorial I saw was "Bring to heel legislators who show disdain for cities and distrust that local governments will act wisely" and the opinion was "Pull up a chair for the Statehouse follies", and each reflected on how state Republican legislators are writing into law lots of their personal interests, against the interests of voters. The reality we are ruled by the wrong people, in Ohio, is really driven home by a "Newsflash" posted on Cleveland.Com today, "PERSPECTIVE: Lawmakers grapple with will of the people", that closes quoting Case Professor Joe White with: "How representative the government is depends on the attitude of the politicians," he said. "If they think their role is to make as many voters happy as possible, then they will try to reflect popular sentiment as much as possible. If they see their role as making the country or state better by doing what they personally think is right, then they won't necessarily represent voters — because they don't think it's their job." That brings me to the realization the PD and mainstream media here are just as bad, and in fact partially responsible for the poor political landscape, because as the editors "see their role as making the country or state better by doing what they personally think is right, then they won't necessarily represent voters." These are, after all, the same editors who supported reelection of George Bush, and the war in Iraq, and clearly support the lead industry.

While the PD editors have printed condemnations of Legislators for abusing power against the public interests the editors think matter, they support the Legislature blocking litigation against Plain Dealing Sherwin-Williams. See the irony, here? Which brings me to the Internet, where I came across a Baltimore, Maryland, radio station website article "Ohio City Goes After MD Firm, Others Over Old Lead Paint". That led me to the Columbus Dispatch article on news which the PD gave 4 inches: "City sues over lead in paint"... featuring the reflection: "The potential cost to the companies could be billions of dollars. City officials say 151,325 Columbus homes contain leadbased paint. And with a minimum cost to remove lead paint from each house of $11,000, they say, a successful suit means the companies could face a cleanup cost of $1.7 billion."

This finally led me to an Associated Press article about the issue what was posted on Cleveland.com - not sure if it hit PD newsprint..."Paint cos. sued day after passage of bill giving new protections"... which is certainly newsworthy. Bottom line is this is a multi-billion dollar issue in Ohio alone, that stands to impact one of Ohio's largest corporations and law firms, as it impacts the lives of 1,000s of children here each year, and has impacted 1,000,000s here over the years, and all that is related to our economic sustainability in complex ways. For the PD to make the story trivial is a disgrace. For some Ohio legislators to trivialize the lives of 1,000s of our children and the economic vitality of our region and state is a greater disgrace. Thank goodness for the Internet.

More than a diary item in NEO - more than "Business" as usual news. I'll keep you posted on developments.

Ask Taft to veto SB 117: Protect children and consumers

I received this today from Representative Mike Foley -

Ask Taft to veto SB 117 Protect children and consumers

Hi all, this is a quick email, asking you all to contact Governor Taft to request him to veto SB117. SB117 started out as a good bill from the Senate. It would have helped victims of crime in civil litigation.

As it came over to the House last week, however Republican members started adding a bunch of amendments to the bill, which harm consumers and prohibit cities from filing nuisance suits against paint companies for lead paint remediation.

The bill weakens the Consumer Sales Practice Act (CSPA) by capping non-economic damages to $5000 As predatory lending cases now fall under the CSPA, it is quite conceivable that non-economic damages could be and should be much higher than $5000

Secondly, the bill basically gives blanket protection to the paint industry. It prohibits any lawsuits for lead paint damages against the industry, unless, a plaintiff can specifically identify the manufacturer of the paint that was used in a given home.

The problem with this, is that there is no known science which can identify a given paint manufacturer, whose paint was used on a specific home from the 1940's or 50's or whenever. So basically this means that they get off the hook for the harm their paint created to hundreds of thousands of children in Ohio, and which still poisons thousands of children a year.

Any help you can give would be appreciated. The number to call for the Governor's office to request a veto is: 614-466-3555

Thanks everyone, Mike Foley

Mike Foley Friends of Mike Foley email: foleypol [at] yahoo [dot] com phone: 216 390-2216 web: http://www.foleyforohio.com

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GCLAC seeks veto of SB 117 as well

I also received a request from the coordinator for the Greater Cleveland Lad Advisory Council to contact Governor Taft to ask he veto SB 117. That is an importaqnt show of support from this region of Northeast Ohio... saying "This is another chance to use your voice to effect legislation involving the issues associated with childhood lead poisoning."

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