Walgreens Ordered to Pay $16.57M in California Lawsuit

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Dec 17, 2012

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Walgreen Company has been ordered to pay a $16.57 Million settlement in California for improper disposal of hazardous waste and confidential customer information.  A California judge issued the order last week to close a statewide lawsuit filed by 42 state district attorney offices for illegal waste disposal and improper handling of confidential information. 

Details of the Walgreens Lawsuit

The suit claimed that over 600 Walgreens stores across California had unlawfully handled and disposed of hazardous materials and waste for more than six years.  Waste including pesticides, bleach, paint, automotive products, and aerosols was illegally dumped rather than disposed of in accordance with California regulation.  In addition to improper disposal of waste, Walgreens was accused of failing to properly dispose of confidential customer medical records, risking exposure of private information.

The settlement will be divided among the several counties filing the suit, and Walgreens will be forced to enact better waste and information disposal procedures going forward.  The company, based in Illinois, has not responded, and there is no indication about whether or not it intends to appeal the judgment.

Walgreens Case an Important Reminder

Companies like Walgreens with stores across the nation need to be aware of varying differences in state laws that require different procedures in certain branches.  Any business that operates a store in a particular state must make sure that store is in compliance with local regulations, regardless of where the company is headquartered.  A company like Walgreens may lose visibility over waste and information disposal procedures of a string of branches in a particular state, however, doing so risks large, and publically embarrassing, legal judgments.

Walgreens company received a $16.57 Million wake-up call in this case, and there is little doubt other multi-state corporations have taken notice.  While the seriousness of the infraction, and the size of the judgment, is unique to large chains, the Walgreens ruling should remind any business owner with stores in multiple states to verify that each branch is in full compliance with all local and state regulations. 

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