Brimer et al. v. Newell Rubbermaid, Inc. and Irwin Industrial Tool Company

Posted: 10/23/2012  browse the case archive

The Honorable Mark H. Pierce of the Santa Clara County Superior Court granted the parties’ motion to approve the Consent Judgment in the case Brimer et al. v. 3M Company, et al., on October 23, 2012.  This enforcement action resolved citizen enforcers Russell Brimer, John Moore, and Peter Englander’s allegations that sixteen defendants, including Newell Rubbermaid, Inc. and Irwin Industrial Tool Company (collectively “Newell”), sold hand tools, garden tools, and/or kitchen utensils containing the phthalate chemicals di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (“DEHP”), di-n-butyl phthalate (“DBP”), butyl benzyl phthalate (“BBP”), and the heavy metal lead.  The citizen enforcers specifically alleged that Newell sold hand tools with grips containing DEHP, DBP, and BBP in California without providing the requisite health hazard warnings. 

As part of the settlement, Newell agreed not to sell any hand tools with grips in California after September 15, 2012, unless the tools contain no more than 1,000 parts per million (0.1%) of DEHP, DBP, and BBP in any accessible component when analyzed using state or federally approved testing methodologies.  Additionally, Newell agreed to provide the reformulation standards to its vendors by September 13, 2012, and instruct them to provide tools that comply with the reformulation standards expeditiously.  Because Newell agreed to reformulate the tools to eliminate the need for Proposition 65 warnings, Brimer, Moore, and Englander agreed to waive a portion of the civil fine that would otherwise be applied.

The Consent Judgment requires settlement payments of $69,500, divided therein between civil penalties, 75% of which are paid to California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, the waived civil fine, and compensation to whistleblowers Brimer, Moore, and Englander and their counsel for their successful enforcement of this matter in the public interest.

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