As You Sow v. BASF Corporation, et al.

Posted: 11/02/1994  browse the case archive

In a settlement reached on October 21, 1994, and entered by the Marin County Superior Court as a judgment on November 2, 1994 (Case No. CIV161844), Proposition 65 private enforcer and whistleblower, As You Sow, and chemicals manufacturer, BASF Corporation, settled pending litigation and resolved AYS's claims regarding alleged violations of Proposition 65 by BASF. The whistleblower's private enforcement action began with a July, 29, 1994, 60-day Notice of Violation AYS served on the chemical manufacturer. The Notice and subsequent Complaint alleged that BASF violated Proposition 65 when it sold automobile paint and automobile paint products (hardeners, etc.) containing the Proposition 65-listed chemicals formaldehyde, nickel, toluene, and lead. Toluene is listed pursuant to Proposition 65 as a chemical known to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. Formaldehyde, nickel, and lead are each listed under the Act as a chemical that is known to cause cancer.

The terms of the parties' settlement required BASF to immediately implement and provide specific and prominent health hazard warning labels regarding the type of harm associated with the particular Proposition-65 listed chemicals in its products. In addition, BASF revised the MSDS included with its paint and paint products to contain the health hazard warning information required by AYS for product labels. The settlement also required BASF to provide customers and distributors in California with products shipped prior to the settlement remaining in inventory with the health hazard warnings and ask that they apply them to the products prior to shipment to or sale in California.

Settlement payments required by the agreement totaled $114,000, including $5,750 to AYS's Proposition 65 Investigation Fund, and $1,750 to AYS for donation to Citizens for a Better Environment, who provide public education concerning the presence of toxic chemicals. BASF will also pay $70,000 in civil penalties to be divided between the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment ($52,500) and AYS ($17,500). As reimbursement for the fees and costs incurred investigating, litigating, and negotiating a settlement of the private enforcement action in the public interest, BASF will pay AYS $36,500.

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