Brimer et al. v. Panacea Products Corp.

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 Panacea Products Corp. and its releasees Michael’s Stores, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, and Beverly Fabrics, Inc. (collectively “Panacea”), 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 Panacea sold hand tools containing DEHP in California without providing the requisite health hazard warnings.

As part of the settlement, Panacea agreed not to sell any hand tools in California after September 15, 2012, unless the hand 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, Panacea agreed to provide the reformulation standards to its vendors by September 13, 2012, and instruct them to provide hand tools that comply with the reformulation standards expeditiously.  Because Panacea agreed to reformulate the hand 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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