Beginning in the late 1990s, employees at a paint manufacturing facility in New Jersey sued nearly 100 chemical manufacturers and distributors seeking to recover damages for diseases supposedly attributable to their occupational exposure to their chemicals.

Plaintiffs’ central legal theory: Their diseases were caused by defendants’ violation of the state common law in purportedly failing to warn their employer and the employees of alleged chemical hazards. During and after discovery many defendants paid considerable sums to settle these cases. One group of defendants, however, invoking the constitutionally predicated doctrine of federal pre-emption, obtained summary judgment and dismissal of all the plaintiffs’ claims. Bass v. Air Prods. & Chems. Inc., N.J. Super. App. Div., No. A-4542-03T (May 26, 2006), cert. denied, 907 A.2d 1014 (N.J. 2006).

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