PROCEDURAL POSTURE: In an action by plaintiff State to recover expenses paid by state for various costs which were allegedly incurred by plaintiff because of defendants' production and distribution of lead, defendants moved to dismiss the claim pursuant to R.I. Super. Ct. R. Civ. P. 12b(6).
OVERVIEW: The Attorney General of the State of Rhode Island, acting for plaintiff State, filed a complaint against several lead pigment manufacturers and their trade association, specifically nine named defendants. In its complaint, plaintiff alleged an extensive history of defendants' conduct consisting of misrepresentations and concealment of evidence regarding the hazards of lead. Defendants, either individually or in joining other defendants, filed motions to dismiss pursuant to R.I. Super. Ct. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state any cause of action cognizable under Rhode Island law. The trial court found that defendants' motions to dismiss had to be examined in the context of the powers of the attorney general to redress public wrongs. Further, to adopt the free public services rule and dismiss this action thereby, particularly in the absence of controlling caselaw requiring such a rule, would have ignored existing authority of the attorney general. Finally, the trial court found that the attorney general pled sufficient factual allegations to withstand the defendant's motion to dismiss.
OUTCOME: Defendants' motions to dismiss were denied.