As You Sow v. R.T. Vanderbilt Company, Inc., et al.

Posted: 05/31/1995  browse the case archive

Proposition 65 private enforcer and whistleblower, As You Sow, and manufacturer of industrial minerals, chemicals, and protective coating products, R.T. Vanderbilt Company, Inc., reached an agreement on May 31, 1995, resolving allegations made by AYS in two 60-day notices of violation the whistleblower served on RTV on each March 17, 1994, and September 15, 1994. AYS's notices of violation, and the complaint in the private enforcement action AYS filed on April 28, 1995, alleged that RTV violated Proposition 65 when it failed to warn consumers and other individuals of the health risks associated with exposures to toluene, silica, cadmium, lead, formaldehyde, carbon black, carbon tetrachloride, aniline, captan, and nickel present in RTV's industrial minerals, chemicals, and protective coating products. Each of the chemicals identified in AYS's notices of violation are listed pursuant to Proposition 65 as chemicals that are known to cancer, or reproductive harm or birth defects.

Under the settlement agreement, RTV was required, by September 1, 1995, to print specific health hazard warnings for the labels of its products that inform consumers and other users of the type of harm associated with exposures to the particular Proposition 65-listed chemical(s) present in the product. RTV agreed to provide interim health hazard warning stickers to its customers who sell or distribute for sale in California and request that they be applied to products in inventory which do not currently bear warnings. Additionally, RTV agreed to revise the MSDS included with its products to provide the warning language required for product labels. RTV made payments to AYS totaling $18,500 in restitution and costs under the settlement. AYS allocated the restitution component of the payment to the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, a non-profit organization that works to educate the public about the environmental hazards of Silicon Valley industries. The cost component of the settlement was used to reimburse AYS for the reasonable attorneys' fees and costs incurred bringing, litigating, and negotiating a settlement of the private enforcement action in the public interest. The parties submitted the settlement to the San Francisco Superior Court for approval and entry as judgment (Case No. 969173) on July 27, 1995, and the court approved and entered the settlement thereafter.

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