This press release is issued pursuant to a settlement agreement in the putative class action entitled Rosenman v. Green Genius LLC, Mrs. Gooch's Natural Food Markets, Inc., et al., Superior Court for the City and County of San Francisco, Case No. CGC-10-506899.
Between 2009 and 2011, Green Genius manufactured and sold plastic bags in California in packaging that identified the bags as "biodegradable" and "proven to biodegrade using ASTM D5511." Similar representations were made on Green Genius' website and on Facebook. Mrs. Gooch's Natural Foods Markets, Inc. (operating in Southern California as Whole Foods Market), Albertson's, Erewhon and the other stores identified on Green Genius' website also sold Green Genius plastic bags between 2009 and 2011 in their retail stores.
Although Green Genius contends that such labeling is lawful in 48 of the 50 States of the United States, California law (Cal. Pub. Res. Code §43557 et seq.) prohibits labeling plastic bags sold in California as "biodegradable." Plaintiff contends that, in California, use of the term "biodegradable" on plastic products is inherently misleading, unless the claim includes a thorough disclaimer providing necessary qualifying details, including, but not limited to, the environments and timeframes in which the biodegradation will take place. Green Genius contends that, given the complex nature of biodegradation and the inherent constraints of marketing claims, including limited space on the plastic product, there was no reasonable ability for Green Genius to provide a disclaimer qualifying the use of the term "biodegradable" without relying on an established scientific standard specification for biodegradability. No such standard currently exists. ASTM D5511, relied on by Green Genius, is a testing methodology, not a specification. Green Genius apologizes for any confusion.
Green Genius ceased the manufacture and sale its plastic bags after this lawsuit was filed. Green Genius no longer is doing business in California or elsewhere. Further, Green Genius' total sales in California were not significant and do not justify an extensive class notice program.
In light of all the foregoing, the parties have agreed to resolve this matter on the following terms. Green Genius is out of business, and if Green Genius ever re-enters the plastic bag market in California, Green Genius agrees to comply for California sales with all applicable California state and federal statutes and regulations, including statutes and regulations regarding the labeling of plastic bags, and to periodically review its policies and practices to ensure compliance (product sold in other states will comply with those states' laws). Further, Green Genius also has agreed that all persons or entities who purchased any type of Green Genius plastic bag in California (including Green Genius plastic garbage, freezer, slider, sandwich and snack, and storage bags) between 2009 and 2011 may request a refund by contacting Green Genius directly at 1-800-515-1605. Refunds will be for the actual purchase price of the product without sales tax. Proof of purchase is required for all refunds which includes a copy of the original receipt from the retailer showing at least the cost and date of sale. Given Green Genius' financial condition and other considerations, refunds are limited and not guaranteed. The total amount available for available refunds is $5,000, and will be distributed on a first-come-first serve basis. All claims for refunds must be submitted by September 20, 2012. After that date, no refund applications will be accepted.
Green Genius has agreed to post this press release on its website (www.thegreengenius.com) and via Marketwire's newswire for online press releases.