As You Sow v. H.B. Fuller Company, et al.

Posted: 04/09/1996  browse the case archive

Whistleblower and private Proposition 65 enforcer, As You Sow, reached settlement terms with H.B. Fuller Company, a manufacturer of adhesives, glues, resins, coatings and other products that AYS alleged contain chemicals listed pursuant to Proposition 65 to cause cancer and reproductive harm or birth defects, including toluene, dichloromethane, crystalline silica, formaldehyde, nickel, epichlorohydrin, antimony trioxide, sodium-o-phenyl phenate, and thiourea. AYS initiated the action on November 4, 1994 when it issued a 60-day notice of violation of Proposition 65 to H.B. Fuller. After sixty days, with no public enforcer having elected to prosecute the alleged violations, AYS filed a private enforcement action in the San Francisco Superior Court (Case No. CGC-96-976169). The court approved the April 9, 1996, settlement and entered a judgment according to its terms at the parties' request.

The settlement required H.B. Fuller to provide specific health hazard warnings associated with exposures to the recognized Proposition 65-listed chemicals in all the products identified by AYS. Under the settlement, H.B. Fuller also took remedial action and printed health hazard warning stickers for distribution to customers with remaining inventory of unlabeled products in California. The settlement required H.B. Fuller to make settlement payments totaling as much as $112,500, including $30,000 in civil penalties to be divided between the California office of Health Hazard Assessment ($22,500) and AYS ($7,500). Of the $30,000 in civil penalties, an initial payment of $15,000 was to be paid upon settlement, while AYS agreed to waive a second $15,000 installment if H.B. Fuller provided AYS with written certification that it had dedicated $40,000 of its budget to offering training seminars to educated California customers on the proper handling of H.B. Fuller products containing Proposition 65-listed chemicals. H.B. Fuller's guaranteed payment of $42,500 in lieu of civil penalties was divided between the Santa Clara Occupational Health and Safety Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating workplace exposures to chemicals known to cause reproductive harm, San Francisco Baykeeper, a nonprofit environmental group dedicated to the protection, preservation, and enhancement of the San Francisco Bay/Delta ecosystems, and the AYS Proposition 65 enforcement fund. AYS's attorneys' fees and costs incurred in bringing and resolving the private enforcement action in the public interest will also be paid out of the payment in lieu of civil penalties.

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