Each year, California's Attorney General posts a document listiing all of the past year's Proposition 65 settlements. Cal Biz Lit has summarized these in past years adding information about the percentage of private party enforcer / bounty-hunters' settlements going toward penalties and the percentage going toward attorneys's fees and costs (Traditionally, the ratio is about 20% penalties / payments in lieu of penalties and 80% attorneys' fees and costs).
This year, the AG has added that information. However, the AG simply posts what the bounty-hunters report, and sometimes, these reports contain errors. Furthermore, the AG does not report mass settlements in a particularly useful way. Specifially, the AG doesn't break down payments by defendant. In other words, if a plaintiff settles ten Proposition 65 matters in a single consent judgment for $35,000 each, the AG will report a single settlement for $350,000, which is neither accurate nor meaningful.
CBL has gone over all the large settlements from last year, resolved dollar amount conflicts between the settlement agreements and the reports, and broken out the individual settlements within group settlements to give our readers more useful information about what individual companies are paying. As a result of our isolating individual company payments in group settlements, we show 502 settlements last year, rather than the 437 reported by the AG. The largest amount paid by a single company was $400,000. The smallest was $5,000. The average payment in a bounty hunter case was $43,215. The average in the forty cases where the AG was involved was $53,106.
In addition, we have totalled all the plaintiff data for law firms representing more than one client in Proposition 65 matters, so that the reader can, for example, look at data for all Chanler Law Firm clients. Our modified settlement summary for all 2012 settlements is as follows (if you click the chart, it pops out and becomes easier to read):
We find that what companies most want to know is what their cost will be. We can't ever predict that, and the past is not always predictive of the future. But the 2012 high, low and average costs of settlement are here (again, you can pop the chart out by clicking it):
And incidentally for those who want to learn even more about the Proposition 65 world, information is available in the Adams Nye Becht LLP White Paper on the subject. There is also an excellent two-part treatment by Bay Area's public radio station, KQED, available here and here.