WASHINGTON - In a major victory for industry, the Judiciary Committee of Maryland's House of Delegates, Annapolis, voted "unfavorable" on H.B. 1394, effectively defeating an initiative that would specifically recognize "market share liability" as a recognized legal theory of liability against (former) manufacturers of lead-based paint.

On March 14, there was a hearing on these two bills in the Judiciary Committee of the House of Delegates. NPCA coordinated and participated in a well-received industry presentation of testimony.

H.B. 1394 was a standalone proposal establishing a cause of action against manufacturers of lead-based paint for damages resulting from presence of lead-based paint in a residential, public or commercial building based upon market-share liability. Manufacturers of lead-based paint include persons who formerly manufactured lead-based paint. Damages include personal-injury damages, property damage and any expenses incurred by property owners to abate lead-based paint. Market share liability is specifically deemed to be a legally recognized theory of liability. In addition, it is not required to prove a causal link between the lead-based paint manufactured by the named manufacturer and the lead-based paint that caused the damage. In order to prevail in a lawsuit under this proposal, a litigant need only demonstrate three items:

    1. Lead-based paint caused the damages;

    2. The manufacturer of lead-based paint was making and selling lead-based paint at the time that lead-based paint was applied to the residential, public or commercial building; and

    3. The manufacturer breached a legally recognized duty in marketing the lead-based paint.

H.B. 1441 offers two amendments to the real property statute in Maryland. First, it specifically permits a community association to seek monetary damages for abatement of a nuisance. In addition, it removes existing language in the property statute, which prohibits nuisance actions relating to lead paint. Consequently, this proposed amendment would permit lawsuits alleging that conditions relating to lead paint constitute a public nuisance.

NPCA members are invited to contact Heidi McAuliffe at hmcauliffe@paint.org for more information.