Brimer v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

Posted: 12/29/2013  browse the case archive

Citizen enforcer Russell Brimer’s allegations against defendant Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (Hobby Lobby”) were resolved on December 27, 2013, when the parties executed a Consent Judgment.  In this matter, Brimer alleged that Hobby Lobby sold upholstered ottomans with foam padding containing the flame retardant tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (“TDCPP”) and vinyl/PVC scrapbook albums and storage bins containing the phthalate chemical di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (“DEHP”) in the State of California without providing the requisite health hazard warnings.

As part of the settlement, Hobby Lobby agreed not to sell any ottomans in California after March 31, 2014, unless the ottomans contain no detectable amount of TDCPP and tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (“TCEP”).  Hobby Lobby also agreed not to sell any scrapbook albums or storage bins in California after June 30, 2014, unless the products contain no more than 1,000 parts per million of DEHP, DBP, and BBP when analyzed using state or federally approved testing methodologies. Additionally, Hobby Lobby agreed to provide its vendors with the reformulation standards by December 31, 2013, and instruct them to provide products that comply expeditiously.  Products currently existing in Hobby Lobby’s inventory must be sold with Proposition 65 warnings provided.  Should Hobby Lobby provide written certification that all ottomans sold in California after December 31, 2013 qualify as reformulated, Brimer agreed to waive a portion of the civil fine.  Additionally, Brimer provided a credit for extending the breadth of reformulation, among other credits available, if Hobby Lobby should provide written certification that all ottomans sold in California after March 31, 2014, contain no detectable amounts of tris(2,3-dibromopropyl)phosphate (“TDBPP”) in addition to satisfying the TCEP and TDCPP requirements.

The Consent Judgment requires settlement payments of $130,000, divided therein between civil penalties, 75% of which are paid to California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, and compensation to whistleblower Brimer and his counsel for their successful enforcement of this matter in the public interest.  

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