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Baxter Healthcare Corp. v. Denton

ELR Citation: 34 ELR 20042
Nos. No. C043352, (Cal. Ct. App., 07/01/2004)

A California appellate court held that a health care company adequately established that its chemical plasticizer (DEHP) posed no significant risk of causing cancer in humans and, thus, was exempt from warning requirements under the California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Proposition 65). Under Proposition 65, a business must provide a warning when it exposes the public to a chemical that is on a list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer in animals, but is not required if the business can show the exposure poses no significant risk of causing cancer in humans. The court rejected a state health agency argument that failing to require a warning for DEHP amounted to a de facto delisting of DEHP instead of simply exempting it from the warning requirements because the company provided sufficient evidence that there is no significant carcinogenic risk. The agency also failed to establish that Proposition 65 does not allow a business to bring a declaratory relief action to determine exemption from the warning requirement. Moreover, the lower court did not abuse its discretion in granting the company declaratory relief because a controversy existed between the agency and company. The lower court also properly applied the preponderance of evidence burden of proof to establish DEHP presented no significant risk of cancer to humans since the more stringent clear and convincing evidence standard was beyond the intent of Proposition 65. Finally, the company adequately proved that DEHP does not cause liver cancer in humans and was not required to prove that DEHP does not pose the possibility of causing cancer of any kind.