As You Sow v. The Sherwin-Williams Company, et al., (Quabaug Corporation)

Posted: 01/07/1994  browse the case archive

Proposition 65 Private enforcer and whistleblower, As You Sow, and adhesives and solvent distributor, Quabaug Corporation, entered a settlement agreement on January 7, 1994, that resolved AYS's claims that Quabaug violated Proposition 65 when it failed to warn consumers and other individuals of the health hazards associated with exposures to toluene in its solvent and adhesive products. 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 Quabaug served on October 30, 1992. 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-95-954568, in the San Francisco Superior Court, naming Quabaug as a defendant among other similarly situated entities in receipt of an AYS-issued 60-day notice.

Under the terms of the settlement, Quabaug provided specific health hazard warnings regarding the reproductive toxicity associated with toluene exposures. Quabaug also agreed to undertake efforts to reformulate the adhesive and solvent products identified by AYS and covered by the settlement to be toluene-free by July 1, 1994. AYS agreed to forego civil penalties in exchange for Quabaug's reformulation efforts and Quabaug agreed to reimburse AYS up to $85,000 for the reasonable attorneys' fees and costs incurred investigating, litigating, and negotiating a settlement of the private enforcement action in the public interest. If Quabaug successfully reformulates the products in the time provided by the agreement, AYS will waive $40,000 of the attorneys' fees provided by the settlement. The parties submitted the settlement to the court for approval and entry as a Stipulated Judgment, and on January 14, 1994, the San Francisco Superior Court approved the settlement and entered a Judgment according to its terms.

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