Alameda County DA O’Malley Announces Multi-Million Dollar Settlement in Environmental Protection Law

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley, along with 10 other California District Attorneys, announced today that a judge in Alameda County has ordered Service King Paint & Body, LLC to pay $2.35 million as part of a settlement of a civil environmental prosecution alleging the auto body repair company mishandled hazardous waste and confidential customer information.

Service King, a Texas limited liability company, currently owns and operates 42 auto body repair facilities throughout California. In Alameda County, there are three Service King auto body shops. In the complaint filed in Alameda County, prosecutors accused Service King of illegally disposing of hazardous waste generated during its auto body repair operations, and of violating laws related to the storage and management of this hazardous waste.

“The auto body repair industry generates many harmful waste streams and today’s settlement serves to provide a cleaner environment for California by preventing the contamination of our precious natural resources when hazardous waste is mismanaged and unlawfully disposed,” said District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley. “We are proud to work with our district attorney partners and environmental regulators statewide to enforce California’s environmental laws to ensure these hazardous wastes are handled properly.”

The settlement with Service King follows other recent California statewide settlements of environmentally hazardous waste violations involving the auto body repair and automotive repair industries. In 2018, California District Attorneys settled cases with Cooks Collision for $1.525 million, and AutoNation for $3.38 million, involving similar environmental and consumer protection violations.

The investigation, initiated by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office Environmental Protection Unit began in 2016 when Alameda County District Attorney investigators conducted undercover inspections of Service King trash containers, which revealed the illegal disposal of large quantities of hazardous auto body sanding dust, sanding pads, automotive paints, clear coats, solvents, non-empty aerosols, and other hazardous substances used during the auto body repair process, as well as confidential customer information. District Attorney investigators from Santa Clara, San Diego, San Bernardino, and Orange counties then conducted additional inspections at Service King auto body repair shops throughout California, and found similar unlawful disposals.

As part of the settlement, Service King is ordered to pay $1.35 million in civil penalties, $350,000 in costs of investigation, and $150,000 towards supplemental environmental projects. Service King has also been ordered to spend $500,000 on equipment designed to limit the release of hazardous auto body wastes into the environment, and recycle solvents and wastewater produced during the automotive painting process. The settlement also requires Service King to employ an additional full-time employee in California who will be responsible for environmental compliance and training.

The case was brought by the District Attorney’s offices of Alameda, Santa Clara, San Bernardino, San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, Sutter, and Yolo counties, where Service King’s auto body repair shops are located. Service King cooperated with the District Attorneys’ investigation and took steps to improve its compliance with the environmental and consumer protection laws brought to its attention by the prosecutors.

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Media Contact: ADA Teresa Drenick // Teresa.Drenick@acgov.org // (510) 272-6280

Posted on Oct 25, 2019