Pep Boys Sued For Illegal Dumping of Hazardous Materials
Tire retailer Pep Boys was sued by several California counties after it became known that they were disposing of automotive fluids, used motor oil, and other hazardous waste in bins scheduled to be dumped in public landfills. The counties filed suit against Pep Boys, and that lawsuit has recently reached a $3.7 million verdict in California. The lawsuit also alleged that Pep Boys routinely failed to destroy customer records that contained sensitive personal and financial information instead, disposing them alongside chemical waste without shredding them first.
The state maintains strict regulations on the dumping of certain automotive chemicals and even tires. These materials leach into the groundwater and soil, make their way into streams, and corrupt the wildlife even in places far away.
Undercover Investigations Led to Lawsuit
California takes its environmental regulations seriously. In a sting conducted across several counties and coordinated with multiple district attorney’s offices, undercover agents inspected the bins at 19 area Pep Boys. It was then that they found hazardous materials in these bins that would eventually find their way into landfills.
The inspections uncovered numerous instances of hazardous dumping including automotive fluids, batteries, electronic equipment, used oil, and more.
According to authorities, Pep Boys cooperated with the investigation and implemented several changes to their existing policies. A spokesperson said that they take environmental stewardship seriously and this was evidenced by how quickly they were able to adapt their existing policies. However, it was also clear from Pep Boys’ conduct that illegally dumping hazardous chemicals in spite of regulations was rampant and not the product of one outlet, but many.
The $3.7 million verdict will go toward cleaning up some of the damage that Pep Boys has done to the local ecosystem.
Investigation Exposes Them to Liability
A highly publicized investigation like this could lead to other lawsuits down the road. Areas closest to the landfills where Pep Boys was dumping chemicals will be the first to suffer consequences. These consequences could include the devaluation of property, physical illness, or even death.
Stores are required to keep hazardous waste in closed bins where they cannot harm employees. In some cases, these chemicals can combine to produce even more toxic chemicals, unstable reactions, toxic odors, and more.
Alongside the $3.7 million verdict, Pep Boys will be required to undergo an audit of how they dispose of their toxic materials. They can also get a $1.2 million credit toward the settlement if they engage in $2.4 million worth of environmental enhancement work.
Pep Boys is not the only auto shop to be hit with these lawsuits. O’Reilly Auto Parts and Autozone, Inc. settled lawsuits for $9.86 million and $11 million respectively for similar conduct.
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If you’ve been injured by a defective tire, the Coral Gables tire defect attorneys at Halpern, Santos & Pinkert can help you recover damages related to your medical expenses, lost wages, and reduced quality of life. Call us today for a free consultation.