Held v. Halloween Group

Posted: 10/02/2012  browse the case archive

In 2011 The Chanler Group’s client, Anthony E. Held, Ph.D., P.E., commenced an investigation into Halloween products, which resulted in the enforcement action Held v. Forum Novelties, Inc., et al.  In this case, Dr. Held alleged that Forum Novelties, Inc. and other entities sold Halloween costumes, accessories, and décor containing the heavy metal lead,  arsenic, cadmium, formaldehyde, and the phthalate chemicals di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (“DEHP”), di-n-butyl phthalate (“DBP”), and butyl benzyl phthalate (“BBP”) to California citizens without providing the requisite Proposition 65 health hazard warnings.

In an unprecedented settlement approved by the Alameda County Superior Court on October 2, 2012, fifteen defendants, including Forum Novelties, Inc. committed to significantly reformulate all of the covered products sold in the State of California to virtually eliminate the presence of the aforementioned substances.  The Halloween products included wigs, masks, gloves, footwear, belts, bags, hats, costume props, jewelry, and Halloween indoor and outdoor decorations including Halloween candy bowls, ornaments, lights, decorative spider webs and lighting.  Additionally, the settlement agreement holds products designed for children under the age of twelve to a stricter standard that reduces the amount of lead and cadmium present in each accessible component of such products.  Lastly, to further protect the health and safety of California consumers, the settlement requires that jewelry products also meet the lead limits set forth in Health & Safety Code § 5214.1 et seq. for jewelry as defined therein (California’s lead in jewelry law), and the lead limits set forth in the Consent Judgment.  Due to the defendants’ commitment to reformulation, Held agreed to credit a portion of the civil fines that would otherwise be applied. 

The Consent Judgment requires settlement payments of $768,750, divided therein between civil penalties, 75% of which are paid to California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, the waived civil fines, and compensation to whistleblower Held and his counsel for their successful enforcement of this matter in the public interest.  The Chanler Group’s clients will continue to monitor and investigate Halloween products sold to California customers to protect their health and safety.

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