Much of the recent discussion regarding Prop 65 has been focused on the regulatory changes going into effect in August of 2018. And that makes sense since there will be significant changes to the warnings, responsibility, and labeling obligations on product websites. There is, however, other activity that may result in a more profound change as to which chemicals require Prop 65 warnings. As we have discussed in the past (see prior post here), there has been litigation in California state court addressing the appropriateness of adding the pesticide ingredient Glyphosate to the Prop 65 list. Continue Reading A Federal Court Gets Opportunity to Weigh In on Prop 65 With a Little Help from Some Friends
California’s Safe Drinking Water & Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (affectionately known as “Proposition 65”) has long been the subject of discussion, both pro and con. Much of the conversation is on various issues surrounding the enforcement of Proposition 65 (for example, see a prior post here). In March 2017, a California trial court in Monsanto Co. v. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (“OEHHA”), No. 16-CE CG 00183, addressed a much more basic issue: should a chemical – here Glyphosate, a key ingredient in Monsanto’s Round-Up® product – even be on Prop 65’s list of cancer-causing chemicals? Continue Reading California’s Prop 65: More Form Over Substance
Last month, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (“OEHHA”) adopted new Proposition 65 warning regulations. Much of the discussions regarding these new regulations have centered on the warning requirements that become effective, after an approximately two-year phase-in period, in August 2018.
There were, however, amendments to Prop 65 settlement terms, penalty amounts and attorney’s fees in civil actions filed by private persons that became effective on October 1, 2016. These amendments have “flown under the radar” but actually may be more problematic than the proposed new warnings.
Proposition 65 permits private citizens (known by the plaintiff’s bar as “citizen enforcers”) to initiate enforcement actions, and, when they do, they are entitled to 25% of any penalties assessed by the courts and attorney’s fees. Continue Reading California Prop 65: More Unintended Consequences
Earlier this month, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (“OEHHA”) issued a Notice of Emergency Action to allow temporary use of a standard point-of-sale warning message for bisphenol A (“BPA”) exposures from canned and bottled foods and beverages. This emergency rulemaking came only three weeks before California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (“Proposition 65”) warning requirements for BPA becomes effective on May 11, 2016. Several days later, OEHHA also added styrene to the Proposition 65 list as a known carcinogen.
Passed in 2010, the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act has a worthy aim: requiring retailers and manufacturers doing big business in California to disclose what measures, if any, they are taking to ensure their suppliers comply with human rights standards. What started as a legislative effort to educate consumers and incentivize good corporate citizenship, however, is quickly becoming a vehicle for private class actions against companies making this information available–even though the Act itself nowhere authorizes private lawsuits seeking damages. For consumer product companies, this is an important trend that could mark the next wave of class action litigation in California.
So what exactly does the Act require? And what litigation risks does this law now pose for companies doing business in California?
Recent attempts to modify California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, Proposition 65, have been the work of the California Legislature. (See A Sane Tweak To Proposition 65 and California Reenters the GMO Food Labeling Arena – This Time Through The Legislature). This past week, however, the California Appellate Court for the First District in Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) v. Beech-Nut Nutrition Corp., 2015 B.L. 72035, (Cal. Ct. Ap., No. A139821, 3/17/15) upheld a trial judge who determined, after entertaining extensive expert testimony, that low levels of lead in products including baby food, fruit juice and packaged food do not produce exposures that trigger a requirement for warnings under Proposition 65.
The Beech-Nut case is one of the few situations where a Proposition 65 plaintiffs’ group has had to litigate what triggers a requirement for warnings under the law. In this case, the court held that the manufacturers met their burden of proof.
This space has addressed on several occasions, [HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE], recent attempts to modify California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, commonly known as Proposition 65. Many of the comments on proposed changes to Proposition 65 have panned the proposed changes because they either do too little or make businesses’ lives more difficult.
Legislation introduced last week (AB543) by Rep. Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) proposes some sane changes to Proposition 65. Representative Quirk holds a PhD in Astrophysics and was a scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory before election to public office. It appears that Dr. Quirk understands both the issues of Proposition 65 and politics. Rather than taking a meat axe to the proposition (which more than likely will have no chance in the California Legislature), the legislation focuses on the scientific evidence needed before an exposure warning is mandated under Proposition 65.
Proposition 65 prohibits any business from knowingly and intentionally exposing any individual to a chemical known to California to cause Cancer or reproductive toxicity without giving a specified warning.
The proposed bill would provide that a business does not knowingly and intentionally expose an individual to a chemical known to California to cause Cancer or reproductive toxicity if there exists an exposure assessment that meets three specified requirements:
Recently, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), the lead agency for Proposition 65 implementation, has proposed new regulations to the Proposition 65 regiment. The proposed changes to the warning text include:
- A warning symbol on products (current proposal is an exclamation point inside a triangle)
- Products that contain the “dirty dozen”/”list of 12” ingredients (Acrylamide, Arsenic, Benzene, Cadmium, Carbon Monoxide, Chlorinated Tris, Formaldehyde, Hexavalent Chromium, Lead, Mercury, Methylene Chloride, Phthalates) must be specifically identified by name in any Proposition 65 warning.
- Any warnings previously approved in settlements or court judgments are not “grandfathered in.”* Continue Reading Proposition 65 May Mean More Than Warning Signs and Lawsuits
In April 2010, the Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT) sued Starbucks Corp. and other coffee sellers alleging they violated California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, passed by California voters in 1986 as Proposition 65, by failing to warn consumers about carcinogens in their products as required under the act. In July 2013, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu M. Berle denied CERT’s motion for summary adjudication, saying the lawsuit would essentially boil down to a battle of experts.
Since then, the battle of the experts has continued to brew. We are now a month into the bench trial that will culminate in Judge Berle’s ruling on the three affirmative defenses asserted by Starbucks and several other defendants: Continue Reading Battle of the Experts Still Brewin’ in Starbucks Trial
Recently, we have informed our readers of product safety legislative and regulatory initiatives, including green chemistry programs, driven at the state level. One of these important state regulatory initiatives is California’s Green Chemistry Initiative. California’s “Safer Consumer Products” regulations seek to reduce toxic chemicals in consumer products by establishing a process whereby manufacturers of certain products must determine whether certain chemicals in their products are necessary and consider safer chemical alternatives. The overall goal of California’s Safer Consumer Products initiative is to ultimately mandate the removal or substitution of specific chemicals from certain consumer goods.
Last week, on March 13, California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (“DTSC”) published a draft of its “Proposed Priority Products List.” The effect of publishing this list is to begin the rulemaking process, which will include notice and comment and public workshops, designed to further examine these listed products and their chemical make-up. Industry stakeholders should take immediate note of the three products on the list and coordinate with suppliers and manufacturers who provide them, if applicable. However, even if this rulemaking does not impact your products, it will establish a very important precedent and should be carefully monitored.
The first three products subject to California’s new initiative are: Continue Reading California Names First Consumer Products for Green Chemistry “Priority Products” List