MD Chamber Opposes Market Share Liability Bill
The Maryland Chamber testified yesterday in opposition to legislation that would drastically alter Maryland’s tort laws by imposing a variation of market share liability. This legal theory is fundamentally unfair, because it severs the need for a person claiming injury to demonstrate that a defendant caused the injury.
The legislation, HB 1241, will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee. The bill would allow an individual to sue companies that formerly manufactured lead pigment in lead-based paint for the cost of abating lead based hazards on their property.
In addition to being an unfair change to Maryland tort law, the bill allows for joint and several liability for manufacturers that are sued for damages. Therefore, a company that may have had little lead paint product in the market could be responsible for paying all of the damages in an award.
The bill ignores the fact that a property owner is responsible for maintaining their property and must not allow it to be a hazard to their tenants or neighbors. In relieving property owners of their responsibilities, it attempts to create liability for companies that may have had no connection to the actual lead paint problem.
“Passage of this legislation would unfairly expose Maryland businesses to large claims for damages and further detract from the State’s competitive business climate,” Maryland Chamber Vice President of Government Affairs Ron Wineholt said.