As You Sow v. Ciba-Geigy Corporation Polymers Division, et al.

Posted: 10/16/1996  browse the case archive

The October 9, 1996, settlement reached between Proposition 65 private enforcer and whistleblower As You Sow, and manufacturer of polymer resins and other chemicals Ciba-Geigy Polymers Division ("Ciba"), was entered as a judgment by the San Francisco Superior Court on October 16, 1996, (Case No. CGC-95-972965). The judgment resolved the private enforcement action brought by AYS, who alleged that the chemical manufacturer violated Proposition 65 when it failed to warn individuals in California of the carcinogenic and reproductive health hazard risks associated with exposures to certain chemicals in its products. The chemicals at issue in the action include di(2-ethylhexl) phthalate (DEHP), 4, 4' methylenedianiline (MDA), toluene, cadmium, crystalline silica, antimony trioxide, and other Proposition 65-listed chemicals.

The settlement required Ciba to provide specific Proposition 65 health hazard warnings on the labels of certain products identified by AYS, and to provide a customer letter regarding the health hazards associated with exposures to the Proposition 65 listed chemicals for products sold in bulk (containers larger than a 55 gallon drum). Ciba also agreed to print and distribute warning labels and letters for California customers who purchased unlabeled products sold prior to the settlement. The settlement required Ciba to pay as much as $165,000, including a $10,000 payment in lieu of civil penalties that AYS donated to the Golden Gate University Environmental Law and Justice Clinic, a $20,000 guaranteed civil penalty payment allocated between the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment ($15,000) and AYS ($5,000), and a second civil penalty payment of $80,000, which AYS agreed to waive on receipt of written certification that Ciba has reformulated five of its products, as designated by AYS, to remove MDA, toluene, and cadmium, and to purchase and utilize stainless steel containers for all MDA-containing chemicals, a change that AYS asserted will reduce the employee exposures to MDA in the workplace place by as much as 50%. In addition, Ciba was required to reimburse AYS for the attorneys' fees and costs incurred in bringing the private enforcement action and negotiating a settlement in the public interest.

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