DA O’Malley Announces $27.84M Settlement with Home Depot

Home Depot to Pay $27.84 Million Settlement for Environmental and Customer Privacy Violations

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and eight other prosecutor’s offices throughout the state, announced today that Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman has ordered Georgia-based Home Depot USA, Inc. (“Home Depot”), to pay $27.84 million to resolve allegations that Home Depot unlawfully disposed of hazardous wastes, and discarded records without rendering private customer information unreadable.

“Today’s settlement marks a victory for both environmental and consumer protection throughout California,” states DA O’Malley.

“My Office works tirelessly to investigate and prosecute companies large and small that endanger our precious resources by illegally disposing of hazardous waste. We also strive to ensure that consumers’ privacy and security is maintained and protected. I thank Attorney General Becerra and my fellow District Attorneys for their partnership on these important matters.”

The judgment is the culmination of a civil enforcement action filed on February 15th in Alameda County and led by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, the California Attorney General’s Office, the District Attorneys of Monterey, Riverside, San Diego, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Ventura and Yolo, and the City Attorney of Los Angeles, with assistance by the Department of Toxic Substances Control.

The civil complaint filed by the prosecutors alleged that more than 300 Home Depot stores and distribution centers throughout the state were routinely and systematically sending hazardous wastes to local landfills that were not permitted to receive those wastes, and were tossing documents containing sensitive customer information into store trash bins, potentially exposing the information to identity thieves.

From 2013 to 2015, inspectors from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office Environmental Protection Division partnered with other district attorney office investigators and environmental regulators statewide, to conduct a series of waste inspections of dumpsters belonging to Home Depot stores. A total of 45 trash compactors belonging to 31 Home Depot stores were inspected, and the inspections revealed that all 45 compactors contained hazardous waste and many of the compactors also contained discarded records containing sensitive customer information that had not been shredded or rendered unreadable. The unlawfully disposed of hazardous wastes included pesticides, aerosols, paint and colorants, solvents, adhesives, batteries, mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs, electronic waste, key shavings and other toxic, ignitable and corrosive materials. The discarded records containing customer information included customer names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.

Upon notice of the investigation, Home Depot took steps to cooperate and to dedicate additional resources towards environmental compliance and improving its hazardous waste and customer record management compliance programs. Among other things, Home Depot conducted dozens of its own compactor waste assessments, and placed customer records lock boxes in strategic locations throughout its stores to ensure the proper management of those documents by its employees. In addition, in this settlement, Home Depot has committed to employing hazardous waste compliance managers dedicated specifically to ensuring the proper handling and management of hazardous wastes, and to conducting daily store inspections to ensure that hazardous waste and hazardous materials are being properly handled.

There are twelve Home Depot stores in Alameda County and all twelve stores are subject to the terms of the settlement.

Under the final judgment, Home Depot must pay $18.487 million in civil penalties and costs. An additional $2.513 million will fund supplemental environmental projects furthering consumer protection and environmental enforcement in California, and Home Depot will expend at least $6.84 million for above compliance environmental measures. The retailer will be bound under the terms of a permanent injunction prohibiting similar future violations of law.

For the Alameda County DA's Office, the case was handled by the head of our Consumer and Environmental Protection Division, Assistant DA Ken Mifsud, with assistance from DA Inspectors Cristina Harbison, Mike Brown, Jeff Israel, Mallory Hathcox, Tom Milner, Bob Davila, Pete Carlson, and Simon Rhee.


Posted on Mar 8, 2018