As You Sow v. The Sherwin-Williams Company, et al.

Posted: 03/21/1994  browse the case archive

In a settlement reached between Proposition 65 Private enforcer and whistleblower, As You Sow, and paint and coatings manufacturer, United Coatings, Inc., and its retail customer, WalMart Stores, Inc. on March 21, 1994, the parties agreed to terms settling AYS's claims that United and WalMart violated Proposition 65 by failing to warn consumers and other individuals in California of the health hazards associated with exposures to toluene contained in paint products sold by the manufacturer and retailer. Toluene is listed pursuant to Proposition 65 as a chemical that is known to the state to cause reproductive harm or birth defects. AYS commenced the private enforcement action with a 60-day Notice of Violation of Proposition 65 to United and WalMart. On August 31, 1993, after no public enforcer elected to prosecute the violations alleged in the notice, AYS filed As You Sow v. Sherwin-Williams Company, et al., Case No. CGC-93-954568, in the San Francisco Superior Court, naming, among other similarly situated entities in receipt of an AYS-issued 60-day notice, United and WalMart as defendants.

Under the terms of the settlement, United and WalMart agreed to immediately provide specific health hazard warnings regarding the reproductive toxicity associated with toluene exposures. United will also employ its best efforts to reformulate the paint products identified by AYS and covered by the settlement to be toluene-free by June 30, 1995.

AYS agreed to forego civil penalties in exchange for United's reformulation efforts, and United agreed to reimburse AYS in the amount of $70,000 for the reasonable attorneys' fees and costs incurred investigating, litigating, and negotiating a settlement of the private enforcement action in the public interest.

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