This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 05/27/2019 at 16:52:30 (UTC).

CONSUMER ADVOCACY GROUP INC VS H MART COMPANIES INC ET AL

Case Summary

On 07/20/2016 CONSUMER ADVOCACY GROUP INC filed an Other lawsuit against H MART COMPANIES INC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****7649

  • Filing Date:

    07/20/2016

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Other

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner

CONSUMER ADVOCACY GROUP INC.

Defendants, Respondents and Cross Plaintiffs

DOES 1-20

H MART COMPANIES INC.

H MART INC. D

KOCO TRADING CO INC. DOE 1

Defendant and Cross Defendant

KOCO TRADING CO INC. DOE 1

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

YEROUSHALMI & YEROUSHALMI

YEROUSHALMI REUBEN

Other Attorneys

LAW OFFICE OF DOK KIM

O'DONELL ROGERS JOSEPH

 

Court Documents

KOCO TRADING CO., INC.'S ANSWER TO CROSS COMPLAINT

12/27/2017: KOCO TRADING CO., INC.'S ANSWER TO CROSS COMPLAINT

PLAINTIFF CONSUMER ADVOCACY GROUP, INC.'S MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT/CROSS-DEFENDANT KOCO TRADING CO., INC'S MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES TO FORM INTERROGATO

2/22/2018: PLAINTIFF CONSUMER ADVOCACY GROUP, INC.'S MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT/CROSS-DEFENDANT KOCO TRADING CO., INC'S MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES TO FORM INTERROGATO

PROOF OF SERVICE

4/19/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE

NOTICE OF ENTRY OF ORDER TO CONTINUE TRIAL DATE AND FINAL STATUS CONFERENCE

4/25/2018: NOTICE OF ENTRY OF ORDER TO CONTINUE TRIAL DATE AND FINAL STATUS CONFERENCE

STATEMENT OF UNDISPUTED MATERIAL FACTS IN SUPPORT OF CROSS-COMPLAINANTS H MART COMPANIES, INC. AND H MART, INC.'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY ADJUDICATION

6/29/2018: STATEMENT OF UNDISPUTED MATERIAL FACTS IN SUPPORT OF CROSS-COMPLAINANTS H MART COMPANIES, INC. AND H MART, INC.'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY ADJUDICATION

Proof of Service

6/29/2018: Proof of Service

Minute Order

9/20/2018: Minute Order

Motion re:

3/19/2019: Motion re:

Stipulation and Order

4/16/2019: Stipulation and Order

Opposition

5/21/2019: Opposition

SUMMONS

7/20/2016: SUMMONS

Proof of Service

9/27/2016: Proof of Service

Unknown

12/29/2016: Unknown

Unknown

2/28/2017: Unknown

Unknown

3/3/2017: Unknown

Minute Order

4/28/2017: Minute Order

Minute Order

9/6/2017: Minute Order

NOTICE OF RULING AT EX PARTE HEARING ON NOVEMBER 28, 2017

11/30/2017: NOTICE OF RULING AT EX PARTE HEARING ON NOVEMBER 28, 2017

76 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/22/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 40; Status Conference (rePost ADR) - Not Held - Advanced and Continued - by Court

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  • 05/21/2019
  • at 2:48 PM in Department 40; Non-Appearance Case Review

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  • 05/21/2019
  • Opposition ( to Motion to Approve and Enter Consent Judgment); Filed by KOCO TRADING CO, INC., (DOE 1) (Legacy Party)

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  • 05/21/2019
  • Notice (of Continuance of Status Conference); Filed by Consumer Advocacy Group, Inc. (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/21/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Non-Appearance Case Review re: continuation of the 5/22/19 he...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/21/2019
  • Declaration (of Tiffine E. Malamphy re: Compliance with Prop 65); Filed by Consumer Advocacy Group, Inc. (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/16/2019
  • Stipulation and Order (to continue trial date and final status conference); Filed by H Mart Companies, Inc. (Legacy Party); H Mart, Inc. d (Legacy Party)

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  • 03/19/2019
  • Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Consumer Advocacy Group, Inc. (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/19/2019
  • Declaration (of Michael Marcus in Support of Motion to Approve); Filed by Consumer Advocacy Group, Inc. (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/19/2019
  • Memorandum of Points & Authorities; Filed by Consumer Advocacy Group, Inc. (Plaintiff)

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180 More Docket Entries
  • 09/02/2016
  • Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Consumer Advocacy Group, Inc. (Plaintiff)

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  • 09/02/2016
  • Notice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Consumer Advocacy Group, Inc. (Plaintiff)

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  • 09/02/2016
  • Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Consumer Advocacy Group, Inc. (Plaintiff)

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  • 09/02/2016
  • PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

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  • 09/02/2016
  • PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

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  • 07/27/2016
  • Notice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 07/27/2016
  • NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

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  • 07/20/2016
  • Complaint; Filed by Consumer Advocacy Group, Inc. (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/20/2016
  • SUMMONS

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  • 07/20/2016
  • COMPLAINT FOR PENALTY AND INJUNCTION

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC627649    Hearing Date: January 22, 2020    Dept: 40

MOVING PARTY: Plaintiff Consumer Advocacy Group, Inc.

OPPOSITION: None

On July 20, 2016, Plaintiff Consumer Advocacy Group, Inc. (“Plaintiff”) filed the Complaint against Defendants H Mart and Koco Trading Co., Inc. (“Koco”), for violations of Proposition 65 (the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, Health & Safety Code §§ 25249.5 et seq.). Plaintiff alleges that Koco sold or distributed kitchen tongs consumer products that contained the chemical DEHP without a Proposition 65 compliant warning. Plaintiff has previously settled with H Mart and has reached a settlement with Koco.

The terms of the settlement are as follows: 1) Koco will stop selling or distributing kitchen tongs consumer products that contain DEHP in excess of 0.1 % by weight without a Proposition 65 compliant warning, 2) Koco will pay $5,720 in civil penalties and an Additional Settlement Payment (“ASP”) to Plaintiff in the amount of $4,280, and 3) Koco will pay $140,000 in attorneys’ fees. The ASP will be offset from the civil penalties.

On December 5, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion to approve and enter consent judgment. Plaintiff requests that the Court approve the settlement agreement between the parties. The Court considered the moving papers and rules as follows.

Standard: Health & Safety Code § 25249.7(f)(4) provides, “[i]f there is a settlement of an action brought by a person in the public interest under subdivision (d), the plaintiff shall submit the settlement, other than a voluntary dismissal in which no consideration is received from the defendant, to the court for approval upon noticed motion, and the court may approve the settlement only if the court makes all of the following findings: (A) The warning that is required by the settlement complies with this chapter. (B) The award of attorney's fees is reasonable under California law. (C) The penalty amount is reasonable based on the criteria set forth in paragraph (2) of subdivision (b).” “In the context of Proposition 65 litigation, necessarily brought to vindicate the public interest, the trial court also must ensure that its judgment serves the public interest.” Consumer Advocacy Group, Inc. v. Kintetsu Enterprises of America (2006) 141 Cal.App.4th 46, 62.

A) Warning Compliance: Proposition 65 provides that “[n]o person in the course of doing business shall knowingly and intentionally expose any individual to a chemical known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity without first giving clear and reasonable warning to such individual . . .” (Health & Safety Code § 25249.6.) Further, to be “clear and reasonable,” the warning must be displayed “with such conspicuousness, as compared with words, statements, designs, or devices in the label, labeling or display as to render it likely to be read and understood by ordinary individual under customary conditions of purchase or use.” (27 CCR § 25601(b)(3).) “The message must clearly communicate that the chemical in question is known to the state to cause cancer, or birth defects or other reproductive harm.” (Id.) “Reformulation of a product, changes in air emissions, or other changes in the defendant's practices which reduce or eliminate the exposure to a listed chemical, in lieu of the provision of a warning, constitute a sufficient showing of public benefit.” (11 Cal. Code. Regs., tit. 11, § 3201(b)(2).)

Here, Koco will stop selling or distributing kitchen tong consumer products that contain DEHP in excess of 0.1 % by weight without a Proposition 65 compliant warning. Any kitchen tong products that contain DEHP in excess of 0.1 % by weight will contain one of the following warnings on the label or other conspicuous area:

WARNING: This product can expose you to chemicals including DEHP, which are known to the State of California to cause cancer and/or birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov.

WARNING: Cancer and Reproductive Harm - www.P65Warnings.ca.gov.

The Court finds that these warnings comply with Proposition 65.

B) Attorneys’ Fees: The factors to determine if an attorneys’ fee is reasonable are: (1) the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved; (2) the extent to which the litigation precludes other employment by the attorneys; (3) the contingent nature of the fee award; (4) the fact that an award might ultimately fall on the taxpayers; and (5) the fact that the monies awarded would inure not to the individual benefit of the attorneys involved but the organizations by which they are employed. Consumer Defense Group v. Rental House Industry Members (2006) 137 Cal.App.4th 1185, 1220.

Plaintiff contends that $140,000.00 in attorneys’ fees is reasonable compared to the actual lodestar amount of $163,451.00 for 429.4 hours spent by various attorneys at rates between $375.00 per hour and $625.00 per hour. The Court finds that this case required extensive investigation, testing, scientific expert consolation, discovery, and settlement negotiation. In light of the complexity of the case, the Court finds that Plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees request is reasonable.

C) Civil Penalties: After ensuring that the consent judgment complies with Proposition 65's terms, the Court must determine whether the assessed penalty is reasonable per Health & Safety Code § 25249.7(b)(2). Health & Safety Code § 25249.7(b)(2) provides, “[i]n assessing the amount of a civil penalty for a violation of this chapter, the court shall consider all of the following: (A) The nature and extent of the violation. (B) The number of, and severity of, the violations. (C) The economic effect of the penalty on the violator. (D) Whether the violator took good faith measures to comply with this chapter and the time these measures were taken. (E) The willfulness of the violator's misconduct. (F) The deterrent effect that the imposition of the penalty would have on both the violator and the regulated community as a whole. (G) Any other factor that justice may require.”

Defendant will pay $5,720 in civil penalties, 75% ($4,290.00) of which will be paid to the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. Plaintiff found that Defendant’s products significantly exceeded the permissible levels of lead. Defendant made good faith efforts to comply and the amount of penalties will deter Defendant in the future.

Defendant will pay $4,280.00 to Plaintiff as an “Additional Settlement Payment” per 11 CCR § 3203(d). The ASP may not exceed the total amount of the civil penalty and must be used to fund activities that address that the same public harm as those cause by Defendant. (11 CCR § 3204(b)(1)-(2).) The ASP complies with these requirements, as it does not exceed $4,290 and will be used to fund investigation and testing for the listed chemicals in Proposition 65.

D) Public Interest: Plaintiff argues that the settlement is in the public interest because the new warnings will allow consumers to make an informed decision as to whether they will purchase and use kitchen tongs containing the harmful chemical DEHP. Plaintiff states that the warnings will protect consumers from unwanted exposure to known carcinogens and toxins.

Plaintiff’s action resulted in warnings on existing products and a requirement that Koco sell future products with permissible levels of lead. These actions serve the public interest. In addition, the civil penalties and ADS will deter future harm.

Conclusion: Based on the foregoing, the motion is GRANTED.