Despite COVID-19’s impacts and the response efforts, bounty hunter law firms in California didn’t slow down, as plaintiff groups sent a higher than average number of Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65) Notice of Violations in a race against the clock to file before California courts shut down.
Retailers that remained open through March 2020, either via essential storefronts or online stores, actually saw an uptick in Proposition 65 notices, compared to the months prior.
Many of these came in the second half of the month, as many of California’s courts shut down due to COVID-19. There were a total number of 348 filings, which was most in a single month since August 2018.
What does a full reopening mean for companies?
California courts shutting down has given lawyers the chance to prepare Notice of Violations, particularly for products sold online, which will be filed as courts reopen. Some California courts have already begun to reopen, hearing cases virtually, while others remain closed or have only opened for criminal matters.
Not only California-based brick and mortar retailers are in scope of Proposition 65. Find out if your company is in scope with our virtual Proposition 65 Scoping Guide.
Will Prop 65 Violations Rise?
While Notice of Violations have to be filed within 60 days, courts could still see peak volumes of Proposition 65 notices as they reopen, particularly for products sold online. In May, 198 violations were filed, with the majority being for heavy metals in products such as seafood and dietary supplements, and phthalates in products such as bags, wallets, and tools.
Online stores, based anywhere in the world, are subject to Proposition 65 violations if they sell to California residents. Some stores have opted to put a blanket Proposition 65 statement on products sold online for global viewers, while others opt to only show the violation to California residents, with warning text prompted by IP address or billing and shipping information, once entered.
Assent supports companies with their supply chain data collection and management to ensure products in scope of Proposition 65 can be appropriately labeled to prevent costly fines.