WASHINGTON - A Rhode Island judge recently postponed until early next year the retrial of a lead-paint lawsuit against former manufacturers of lead paint and pigments, the NPCA reported. The first trial ended in a mistrial in October 2002.

Judge Michael A. Silverstein scheduled the trial to begin on April 6, 2005, at the earliest, following a request from the Rhode Island attorney general's office seeking a delay. The state asked for more time to review Silverstein's denial of a request for a trial before a judge rather than a jury.

Judge Silverstein will reevaluate the trial date early in 2005 based on whether lawyers for both sides have been able to sufficiently complete the pre-trial discovery phase, the NPCA said. Silverstein in May of 2003 ruled that the state could retry the lawsuit.

The state's case seeks to determine whether the presence of lead in dwellings in the state constitutes a "public nuisance." If the state prevails, the case would proceed to a separate trial to determine who is responsible for creating and abating the public nuisance and what measures should be taken, such as paying for damages and remediation of risk.

The Rhode Island case was the first lead-paint suit filed by a state to reach trial. The mistrial was declared after the jurors deadlocked four votes to two in favor of the seven defendant companies.