Eight years ago, an organization called the Council for Education and Research on Toxics commenced a lawsuit against coffee vendors in California, maintaining that to comply with Proposition 65, cancer warnings must be placed on lattes, cold brews and plain old cups of joe they sell in the state. Hundreds of millions dollars in damages have been sought from companies such as Starbucks for not including such warnings previously. New warnings are sought advising potential purchasers that coffee contains a chemical called acrylamide that can cause cancer.
The case has been vigorously litigated through the years. Thus far the council has done well. Some vendors have already paid to get out of the lawsuit. And a trial judge has ruled in the council’s favor on the merits and a hearing is scheduled to begin Monday dealing with precisely what damages should be awarded. The coffee companies are seeking to appeal the ruling before the damages hearing begins.