As You Sow v. Master Corporation, et al.

Posted: 07/29/1994  browse the case archive

Proposition 65 private enforcer As You Sow, and chemical manufacturer, Ezon, Inc. d/b/a Master Corporation, resolved As You Sow's claims as alleged in the July 29, 1994 60-day notice of violation of Proposition 65. As You Sow, the nonprofit whistleblower, served Master Corp. and settled pending litigation between the parties. In its notice of violation and complaint, AYS alleged that Master Corp. violated Proposition 65 when it sold certain automotive products, including paints, adhesives, cleaners and solvents that contained toluene and perchloroethylene without providing the health hazard warning required by Proposition 65. Toluene is listed pursuant Proposition 65 as a chemical that is known to cause reproductive harm or birth defects. Perchloroethylene is listed pursuant to the Act as a known carcinogen.

Under the terms of the settlement, Master Corp. implemented specific health hazard warnings for its products to inform consumers of the reproductive toxicity of toluene, and/or the carcinogenic risks associated with exposures to perchloroethylene. Master Corp. also provided interim warnings to distributors who sell or distribute the products for sale in California with the warning labels to be applied to any unlabeled products remaining in inventory. In addition, the settlement required Master Corp. to pay $34,500 in settlement payments. The monetary terms required Master Corp. to make an $8,000 payment in lieu of civil penalties to AYS, who divided the funds equally between the Santa Clara Center for Occupational Safety and Health and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The agreement provided for $8,000 in civil penalties and credits. Master Corp. received a $4,500 penalty credit under the agreement for reformulating certain products identified by AYS to remove the Proposition 65-listed chemicals, and made a guaranteed penalty payment of $3,500 in civil penalties be allocated between the California Office of Health Hazard Assessment (75%) and AYS (25%). In addition, Master Corp. reimbursed AYS $18,500 for the reasonable attorneys' fees and costs incurred investigating, litigating, and negotiating a settlement of the private enforcement action in the public interest. The parties submitted the settlement as a stipulated judgment to the Marin County Superior Court. The court approved the settlement and entered judgment according its terms on March 14, 1995 (Case No. 162031).

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