Just weeks after a federal judge called the science behind the alleged carcinogenicity of glyphosate “shaky,” a California state court jury hammered Monsanto with a $289 million verdict, blaming a former groundskeeper’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma on his exposure to the Roundup® chemical. The August 10, 2018, verdict in Johnson v. Monsanto Co., No. CGC16550128 (California Superior Court, County of San Francisco)—which included $250 million in punitive damages—was just the first in the nearly 8,000 Roundup-related cases currently pending against Monsanto, many of which are consolidated in multidistrict litigation in California federal court. The intense publicity surrounding the verdict has left retailers whose products contain ingredients that might have been treated with glyphosate wondering whether their products may be targeted next.

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It is no secret that California has had appliance efficiency standards in place for some time now. And it is no secret that the California Energy Commission (“CEC”) has been responsible for crafting those standards. According to the CEC and the California State Legislature, however, compliance with those standards has been hit-or-miss. In 2011, the Legislature found that “significant quantities of appliances are sold and offered for sale in California that do not meet the state’s energy efficiency standards,” and the CEC itself has stated that nearly half of all regulated appliances are non-compliant, and that certain product categories are entirely non-compliant. The broad range of products covered by the CEC’s efficiency standards may be partly to blame for the lack of compliance, as manufacturers may not even realize their product must comply. For example, the efficiency standards encompass nearly every device with a rechargeable battery and that rechargeable battery system, meaning everything from cell phones to laptops to tablets to golf carts must be tested, certified and listed in the CEC’s database before being offered for sale in California.  Continue Reading California’s Appliance Efficiency Standards and the Cost of Non-Compliance

We previously reported on the proposed regulations initiated by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and its impact on retailers. Retailers should take steps to ensure that they are protected from Prop 65 claims, particularly with the proposed regulations in the pipeline. As with any regulatory requirements that impact businesses, often the best defense is a good offense — forethought, assessment and implementation of a compliance program can minimize the costs, headaches, business disruption and negative publicity that may otherwise occur. Continue Reading How Retailers Can Protect Themselves from Prop 65 Proposed Regulations, Part 3

As we previously reported, the Prop 65 statute prohibits businesses from exposing people in California to any of the over 800 listed chemicals without first providing a “clear and reasonable” warning. Currently, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment is working to repeal existing Prop 65 warning regulations and adopt new requirements. However, the proposed regulations contain several problematic provisions regarding the content and method of transmission for required warnings. Retailers need to be aware of proposed provisions which clearly apportion responsibility for providing warnings throughout the chain of commerce. Though purportedly aimed at reducing retailers’ Prop 65 warning burden, if implemented as written, the provisions will actually increase retailers’ risks and allow manufacturers to insulate themselves from liability at retailers’ expense. Continue Reading Proposed Regulations to Prop 65 Likely to Increase Impact on Retailers, Part 2

For retailers operating in California, the state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (“Prop 65”) is a constant and often costly headache. Among other requirements, Prop 65 prohibits businesses with ten or more employees, including those that ship products into California, from exposing people in California to any of the over 800 listed chemicals without first providing a “clear and reasonable” warning. The statute also contains a prohibition against discharging or releasing listed chemicals to “sources of drinking water” in the state, but those provisions are not discussed here. The list of over 800 chemicals is revised and updated annually.

Continue Reading Proposition 65: Impact on Retailers, Part 1