PROVIDENCE, RI - The Rhode Island Supreme Court denied a request by the defendants in a lead-paint lawsuit to review a lower-court ruling allowing the suit to proceed. The defendants - a group of companies that formerly manufactured lead-based house paints or supplied lead-based raw materials for such paints - had argued that the state's public-nuisance law does not apply to the suit, filed in 1999 by Rhode Island Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse.

The attorney general alleged the defendants had appealed the lower-court ruling in an effort to delay the progress of the suit toward trial. "Another delay tactic by the lead-paint manufacturers has been headed off," Whitehouse said. "I am hopeful that we have seen the last of the delays and that we can now proceed to trial."

A pre-trial conference in the case was scheduled for Nov. 30.