TCG Supports Governor Brown’s Proposed Reform of Prop 65

Posted: 05/07/2013  browse the blog archive

The Chanler Group, the nation’s leading law firm that represents citizens acting in the public interest to enforce Proposition 65, announced today that it supports the reforms proposed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. to strengthen and restore the intent of Proposition 65 to protect Californians from exposures to harmful chemicals found in consumer products.  The Chanler Group agrees there is a need to deter frivolous lawsuits, and to improve how the public is warned about dangerous chemicals.  The effectiveness and efficiency of Proposition 65 depends on the ability to screen out meritless suits.

“Our clients have consistently offered to exchange test results with companies selling goods with hidden toxicants.  Often, they don't have anything to share since most of their goods are made in China and then claim ‘no knowledge’ of the ingredients as a convenient defense,” said Clifford A. Chanler, founder of The Chanler Group.  “The companies should have been testing from the get go; hopefully, one part of the amendment will be to impose more significant civil penalties on companies that operate with reckless indifference to toxic exposures – and don't test their items before selling them to citizens.”

Many of the proposed reforms have long been implemented by The Chanler Group in their own practice, including supporting our clients’ certificates of merit with laboratory test results and other information from scientific experts demonstrating that consumers would likely be exposed to the listed chemicals.  The Chanler Group also shares such laboratory test results with the alleged violator, provided they agree to keep such results confidential.  The Chanler Group has been a vocal opponent of generic warnings, and favors requiring stronger, more specific language in the health hazard warnings provided to consumers so that they can make more informed choices, and are more aware of what chemicals they are being exposed to, the risks of such exposures, and how they can protect themselves.

“The use of generic warnings in public places for two decades has significantly undermined the statute and clearly not advanced the public health,” said Chanler.  “It is high time that such warnings be much more informative or eliminated for good.”

“Each year, our clients are responsible for approximately 10,000 separate SKUs (individual products) being reformulated to remove carcinogens and reproductive toxicants.  Some companies only sell 1,000 units of an SKU per year but others are sold in the millions,” said Chanler.  “All told, we estimate that 500,000,000 consumer products that have had previously hidden hazardous chemicals are reformulated through our clients' efforts annually.  The proposed reforms will serve to increase these figures and hopefully deter the increasing use of harmful toxicants in consumer products.”

The Chanler Group represents citizen enforcers who, acting in the public interest, commence actions against businesses offering products for sale in California that contain chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm without first providing the health hazard warning required by Proposition 65. Citizen enforcers bringing Proposition 65 actions in the public interest may obtain a Court Judgment imposing civil penalties, an injunction requiring reformulation of products, and/or provision of health hazard warnings. The Chanler Group has represented citizen enforcers of Proposition 65 for more than twenty years.