Leeman v. Hillstone Restaurant Group, Inc.

Posted: 05/17/2013  browse the case archive

The parties in the enforcement action Leeman v. Hillstone Restaurant Group, Inc. executed a Consent Judgment on May 17, 2013, which resolved citizen enforcer Whitney R. Leeman, Ph.D.’s allegations that the defendant Hillstone Restaurant Group, Inc. (“Hillstone”) sold flame-cooked ground beef burgers containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, including benz[a]anthracene, benzo[a]pyrene, benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo[k]fluoranthene, and indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene, in the State of California without providing the requisite health hazard warnings. 

As part of the settlement, Hillstone agreed not to sell any flame-cooked ground beef burgers that are grilled or broiled with direct contact to an open flame in California within thirty days after the Alameda Court approves the Consent Judgment.  Instead, Hillstone agreed to install new cooking equipment that protects the meat from direct contact over an open flame.  Should Hillstone provide written certification within thirty-five days of judicial approval that the new equipment has been installed, Leeman agreed to waive a portion of the civil fine that would otherwise be applied.    

The Consent Judgment requires settlement payments of $134,500, divided therein between civil penalties, 75% of which are paid to California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, and compensation to whistleblower Leeman and her counsel for their successful enforcement of this matter in the public interest.


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