James M. Schurz and Robin Stafford
Consumer Litigation, Consumer Products, Environmental Litigation, Environmental Permitting + Regulation, Product Liability and Counseling, and Proposition 65 + Chemicals
On Friday, October 12, 2018, California’s Second Appellate District Court stayed the trial that was set to begin on Monday, October 15, 2018, in Los Angeles Superior Court, regarding whether cancer warnings are required for sales of coffee in California. The trial in Council for Education and Research on Toxics v. Starbucks Corporation et al. (Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC435759/BC461182) is stayed pending further order of the Appellate Court.
The plaintiff in the eight-year-old Starbucks matter alleges under California’s Proposition 65 that coffee companies must warn consumers of the presence of the chemical acrylamide in coffee. Acrylamide, listed under Proposition 65 as a chemical “known to the state to cause cancer,” is formed when green coffee beans are roasted. Today’s Appellate Court order responds to the request of the 50+ coffee company defendants set to appear at trial that the case be stayed pending adoption of a new regulatory rule by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) that is intended to be dispositive of the Starbucks action.
OEHHA’s proposed rulemaking, announced June 15, 2018, would adopt a regulation providing that exposure to Proposition 65-listed chemicals in coffee, when produced as a result of the roasting and brewing of coffee, does not pose a significant risk of cancer. OEHHA has found that Proposition 65 and its existing regulations do not require Proposition 65 warnings on coffee and has proposed this regulation to clarify that fact.
In granting the stay, the Appellate Court has ordered the coffee companies to provide a written status update by January 15, 2019.
Morrison & Foerster LLP represents the petitioner coffee companies in the above-mentioned case, along with Daniel Kolkey of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.
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