Target Corporation Inc. Case Settles for $500,000

This page last reviewed July 19, 2010

Between 2003 and 2008, Target sold over 16,000 gallons of non-complying automotive windshield washer fluid products at its stores in non-type A areas of California that exceeded the one percent volatile organic compound (VOC) limit set under Consumer Products Regulation Section 94509 parts (a) for the "Automotive Windshield Washer Fluid, All other areas" product category.  Settlement discussions over the initial violations broke down after the discovery of documentation from the manufacturer that Target was made aware of the sales restrictions for these products several times, including shortly before Enforcement staff purchased the products.  This documentation contradicted Target’s initial assertions.  Enforcement staff continued to find non-complying product available for sale at Target stores as late as January 2008.  Starting in May 2006, Target sold over 210,000 units of non-complying “reed diffuser” and “room spray” liquid air freshener products in California with sales continuing into 2008.  These products were manufactured for Target by three different companies, primarily by factories in China, and the products did not comply with the 18 percent VOC limit or the product dating requirements.  The majority of the reed diffuser air freshener products contained at least 80 percent VOC and consisted primarily of industrial solvents with limited quantities of fragrances.  In addition, between 2005 and 2008, Target sold over 1,100 Blitz brand non-complying portable fuel containers at retail locations throughout California.  These containers did not comply with the performance standards for spill-proof systems in the California regulation.  The manufacturer supplies both complying and non-complying products to Target for sale nationwide and clearly informed Target which particular models could be not be sold in California.  While Target claimed that mistakes had been made on store planograms which were corrected, Enforcement staff continued to find non-complying products on store shelves over a multiple year period.  Finally, Target sold 28 units of non-complying Supentown portable generators over the internet to California residents.  Due to the large number of cases, the inconsistent information provided by Target, the ongoing nature of the violations, and the magnitude of the excess emissions, the cases were referred by the Office of Legal Affairs to the Attorney General’s Office.  A civil complaint was filed in Sacramento County in October 2008.  Target Corporation and the State of California agreed to a $500,000 stipulated settlement which was executed by the County of Sacramento State Superior Court on October 6, 2009.  Of the total amount, $452,500 was allocated to violations of the Consumer Products regulations; $33,500 was allocated to violations of the Portable Fuel Container regulations; and $14,000 was allocated to violations of the Small Off-Road Engine regulation.