Filed Under California Proposition 65, Lawsuit Would Require Warning Labels

SAN FRANCISCO (September 30, 2011) –The national law firm of Baron and Budd P.C., along with California-based April Strauss of the Law Offices of April Strauss, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of California-based non-profit Environmental Law Foundation (ELF), alleging that more than 100 food and beverage products for babies, toddlers and children contain elevated levels of lead. Filed under California’s Proposition 65, the lawsuit would require that manufacturers place warnings to consumers on their products that they would be exposed to lead through the ingestion of their products. Some of the companies in the lawsuit include Wal-Mart Stores, Welch’s, Target, Gerber, Dole, Safeway, Del Monte, Kroger and Whole Foods. A full list of tested products can be found here.

Testing conducted by ELF has revealed that a number of foods and beverages marketed to babies and children contain elevated levels of lead, including baby foods made of or with carrots, sweet potatoes, peaches or pears, and packaged peaches and pears, fruit cocktail, grape juice and peach juice for children and adults.

"Scientists agree that there is no safe level of exposure to lead," said Laura Baughman, head of Baron and Budd’s Proposition 65 litigation section. "Children under the age of seven are particularly vulnerable to lead, which can cause permanent learning or behavioral disorders, delayed growth, diminished IQ and, at very high levels, serious, irreversible brain damage."

Under California’s Proposition 65 (Prop 65), consumers must be warned about potential harmful exposure when toxins, such as lead, are present at certain levels in a food or beverage. According to ELF’s testing, there is enough lead in a single serving of the children’s foods at issue to require warning labels under Prop 65. ELF collected and tested every brand of particular types of children’s and baby foods it could locate in California, including more than 400 samples of 146 different brands.

In June 2010, Baron and Budd and ELF sent notices to the California Attorney General, 58 California county District Attorneys, and the manufacturers, retailers and distributors of the foods at issue that listed the food products found to contain elevated levels of lead. Not all of the notified companies are included in this lawsuit, as further testing is needed for some products.

Baron and Budd has spearheaded some of the most prominent California Proposition 65 cases in recent years. In 2009, Baughman represented three California non-profit organizations in a case against school bus provider Laidlaw Transit. The case ended in a major settlement that required Laidlaw to invest up to $34 million over a five-year period to retrofit or replace outdated buses in their fleet and ultimately protected school children from exposure to harmful diesel exhaust.

About Baron & Budd, P.C.

The law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C., with offices in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Austin, Los Angeles and Miami, is a nationally recognized law firm with a 30-year history of "Protecting What’s Right" for people, communities and businesses harmed by negligence. Baron & Budd’s size and resources enable the firm to take on large and complex cases. The firm represents individuals, governmental and business entities in areas as diverse as water contamination, Gulf oil spill, Qui Tam, California Proposition 65 violations, dangerous medications and medical devices, Chinese drywall, insurance claims, commercial litigation, securities fraud and asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma.

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