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Federal judge being asked to strike down paint chip lawsuit measure in state budget

MILWAUKEE, WI (WTAQ) - A federal judge is being asked to strike down part of the new state budget.

Milwaukee attorney Peter Earle said Republican legislators violated the U.S. Constitution, by interfering with over 170 pending lawsuits against the lead-based paint industry.

The suits allege that children got sick by ingesting chips from the lead-paint.

Earle is the plaintiffs’ attorney in those cases.

The Joint Finance Committee added a budget item which said the plaintiffs cannot win their lawsuits unless they identify the exact manufacturer of the paint which made their kids sick.

Republicans decided in 2011 to nullify an old Supreme Court ruling, and require the paint identification for future cases.

The new budget measure applies the requirement to cases filed between 2006-and-2011.

The Legislative Council warned lawmakers the measure might be unconstitutional, and Milwaukee Federal Judge Lynn Adelman will decide if it is.

Republican Governor Scott Walker told the Journal Sentinel Wednesday he was not surprised by Earle’s new legal challenge.

Walker said there are lots of attorneys like Earle who file cases like that.

He called the budget measure a quote, “relative tweak.”