Assemblymember Chau Introduces Legislation To Prevent Prop. 65 Abuse

For immediate release:

SAN GABRIEL – Today, Assemblymember Ed Chau (D–Monterey Park) joined members of the Asian Food Trade Association to discuss AB 693, a bill to prevent abuses of Proposition (Prop.) 65 by private enforcers.

“While Prop. 65 is intended to safeguard the public against dangerous chemicals, it has also resulted in abusive practices brought forth by some private enforcers who simply want to leverage small businesses into costly settlements without any significant basis for the lawsuit. On the receiving end of this abuse are numerous Asian owned businesses throughout my district,” said Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park).  “To address these rogue practices and safeguard public health, my bill gives businesses a chance to correct alleged violations, while ensuring any settlements are reasonable and in compliance with the law.”

Voters approved Prop. 65 in 1986, which requires California businesses to provide a clear and reasonable warning before knowingly and intentionally exposing individuals to chemicals known to cause cancer and/or reproductive toxicity. The law is enforced by public prosecutors, the Attorney General, or private enforcers who bring lawsuits on behalf of the “public interest”. Failure to comply exposes a business to civil penalties of up to $2,500 per day. Unfortunately, businesses throughout the state have become the target of some private enforcers who make monetary demands in settlements for not having a Prop. 65 warning label on a product or store shelf. These settlements bring in millions of dollars annually across the state.

Asian Food Trade Association President Tim Sher said, “For the past several years, Asian food distributors and retailers have repeatedly received several 60-day notices where some private enforcers demand hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle a case without providing proof that a label is necessary.” “As business owners, we want to comply with Prop 65 should a label be required,” said Sher.

AB 693 would allow food distributors to place a warning label on a product, alleged to be in violation, within 14 days of receiving a 60-day notice of enforcement. It also requires a judge to approve whether a settlement complies with the law, and whether penalties and the attorney’s fees are reasonable. Finally, it requires a private enforcer to provide an alleged violator with the basis for filing the lawsuit against the business, upon filing a 60-day notice.