Product Liability -- 2018

People v. Conagra Grocery Products Co.   (California Supreme Court)

Validity of public nuisance claims

The NAM filed an amicus letter urging the California Supreme Court to review a lower court's ruling and require plaintiffs to prove unreasonable interference and causation to prevail on their lead paint public nuisance claim. This case was appealed to the California Supreme Court on the issue of whether manufacturers that sold lead paint more than 65 years ago should face liability under a public nuisance theory for promoting their products at that time. The court below held that defendants could be held liable simply based on circumstantial evidence at the time the paint was sold that lead paint could be harmful. The NAM's letter urged the court not to apply knowledge we have now to the actions of manufacturers decades ago when the information was not available. Further, plaintiffs should be required to prove causation between a specific company's product and the harm suffered, as is traditionally required in public nuisance cases. Unfortunately, the California Supreme Court declined to review this case, so the decision of the lower court stands.

Related Documents:
NAM amicus letter  (January 19, 2018)


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