Thompson v. Armstrong Containers Inc., No. 22-2633 (7th Cir. 2024)Annotate this Case
In a case involving a series of toxic tort claims brought by individuals allegedly harmed by lead paint pigment, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. The case involved approximately 170 plaintiffs, all alleging injuries stemming from their exposure to white lead carbonate, a lead paint pigment, when they were children. The district court had granted summary judgment to the defendants on all claims, based largely on the legal doctrine of "issue preclusion" and "law of the case." The appellate court agreed with much of the district court's reasoning. However, it held that a small group of plaintiffs who had filed their own separate cases had a due process right to try their cases separately. The appellate court also disagreed with the district court's application of issue preclusion to another group of plaintiffs who had filed separate cases and hadn't participated in the earlier proceedings. The appellate court concluded that these plaintiffs had not had a "full and fair opportunity to litigate" the issue of the defendants' duty to warn under a lead dust-based theory of liability. The court therefore sent the cases back to the district court for further proceedings.