Chuck Jones owns Jones Coffee Roasters in Pasadena, California, an independent coffee company and wholesale roaster.
Chuck employs 28 people in his four stores and wholesale warehouse. He loves being in the coffee business, and his stores often promote local artists and musicians.
Seven years ago, Chuck was one of 90 coffee companies sued under California’s controversial Prop. 65, which businesses to put warning labels on products to let people know they may have been exposed to chemicals that might cause cancer or congenital disabilities. The lawsuit accuses businesses like Chuck’s of violating Prop. 65 because coffee contains acrylamide, a chemical that may cause cancer.
But organizations like the National Cancer Institute have suggested that there is no evidence acrylamide causes cancer.
When Chuck tried to settle the lawsuit, the plaintiffs’ lawyers demanded all of his profits from the last ten years, which would have put Chuck out of business and put his employees out of jobs.
After a judge ruled in 2018 that coffee businesses must put warning labels on their coffee, a California agency exempted coffee from its Prop. 65 list.
Even though coffee has been removed from the list, the lawsuit against Chuck’s company is still ongoing. He’s already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees—money he could have spent on building his company.
This issue is bigger than labels on coffee cups. Prop. 65 has become so broad that even Disneyland has a cancer warning label. The law doesn’t protect consumers; it allows plaintiffs’ lawyers to cash in by filing frivolous lawsuits over warning labels.