Last month, I blogged about lead in brass handrails as a potential new Prop 65 trend. The same plaintiff who issued the Proposition 65 notices concerning brass in handrails at amusement parks (the Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation) has just issued another similar notice. This time, the notice alleges that a large restaurant chain exposed California consumers to lead in violation of Proposition 65 because there is lead in brass door handles at the restaurant’s various locations.
Will more restaurants or retailers receive similar notices? I think the answer is yes, we will see more Prop 65 notices against restaurants and other retail establishments that have brass door handles or handrails at their locations. Indeed, Mateel has issued other notices of late as well concerning brass handrails or stanchions.
Although many Prop 65 cases are resolved via early settlement, a company that receive notices based on these types of alleged exposures should carefully evaluate its defenses. It is hard to imagine that there is a “significant risk” of exposure to lead by the average patron of these restaurants. A company may be able to establish that the level of exposure is below the level requiring a warning under Proposition 65.
Other restaurants and retailers that have brass door handles or handrails (and have not yet received a Notice of Violation) should nonetheless speak with counsel about what they can do to protect themselves from a Prop 65 lawsuit.