Beveridge & Diamond
Related Practices
Related Practices

Judgment Against Distributor in Suit to Enforce California Consumer Product VOC Regulations

Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., March 30, 2010

Pro’s Choice Beauty Care, Inc., a major U.S. hair care product distributor, was ordered to pay $1.25 million in civil penalties and costs for distributing products in violation of California’s Consumer Product volatile organic compound (“VOC”) regulations.1  These regulations prohibit the sale, supply, offer for sale, or manufacture for sale in California of any listed consumer product which, at the time of sale or manufacture, contains VOCs in excess of specified limits.2  The lawsuit, brought by the California Attorney General at the urging of the California Air Resources Board (“ARB”) and several local prosecutors, did not name the manufacturers of the non-compliant hair care products as defendants in this case.3

In addition to the monetary judgment, defendant Pro’s Choice was ordered to:  (1) stop selling non-compliant products in California; (2) withdraw all products sold/distributed in violation of the California Consumer Product VOC rules; and (3) avoid future sales of non-compliant products by sorting non-compliant products prior to distribution in California (either by obtaining written verification from the manufacturer that the product is compliant or by testing representative samples from each batch).

The judgment will also require several major retailer defendants (including Target, Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy, Rite Aid, Long’s Drug Stores, Ralph’s Grocery Co. and Kmart) to remove non-compliant products from their California stores.

For questions on how these regulations may impact your business or products, contact Laura Duncan (

1  The judgment in California v. Pro’s Choice Beauty Care Inc., Cal. Super. Ct. No. 623625, was rendered on March 16, 2010.

2  The California VOC limits and effective dates for specific products are listed in Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations, section 94509.  Regulated consumer products include, but are not limited to: adhesives; air fresheners; automotive maintenance supplies; cleaning products; fabric, furniture, and floor maintenance products; hair, nail, and personal care products; insecticides/herbicides; lubricants/penetrants; sanitizers; etc.

3  Although product manufacturers could be held liable under the California Consumer Product VOC regulations, in this case, it was the Pro’s Choice distribution model (and the retailers’ lack of regulatory controls) that caused the non-compliant products to be sold in California.  Pro’s Choice reportedly buys brand-name products overseas and re-imports them for sale to U.S. retailers at reduced prices.  Therefore, some of these products may not have been intended by the product manufacturers to be sold or distributed in California.