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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on August 6th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 23 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 20, Issue 23

DA sues fire retardant company, claims false advertising

By Zac Ezzone

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley filed a lawsuit against a Marina Del Rey-based company over claims it made about the effectiveness of one of its fire prevention products.

The company, Sun FireDefense, produces and sells a fire retardant called SPF 3000 Clear Spray, which can be applied to the exterior of homes to supposedly prevent them from igniting during wildfires, according to the lawsuit filed on Aug. 5. 

In a statement her office released regarding the complaint, Dudley said she decided to investigate the company’s claims after watching a television ad promoting the product shortly after the Thomas Fire. 

“[The commercial] was for a product that left me, and I suspect most viewers from our still traumatized community, with the distinct impression that if this product was used on their home, they and their loved ones would be better protected from future fires,” Dudley said in the statement. 

After seeing this ad, and believing the company’s claims were too good to be true, Dudley’s office began a yearlong investigation into the effectiveness of the product and the company’s claims, county Deputy District Attorney Christopher Dalbey told the Sun.

The company’s website contains a link to a video comparing how two different shingles—one of which is treated with the spray—react to fire. In the video, the untreated shingle catches fire and burns quickly, while the treated shingle never ignites. 

Dalbey said the DA’s Office conducted a similar test that didn’t produce the same results. During its investigation, the DA’s Office tested the product on different housing materials and found the product didn’t work as advertised.

According to the complaint, the company hasn’t provided evidence to substantiate claims that the product can protect homes from heat and embers up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit or that the product is effective for more than five years after a single application.

Additionally, according to the complaint, the company claims the spray was developed in collaboration with NASA and the U.S. Forest Service. Dalbey said he isn’t aware of any evidence that backs up those claims. 

The company’s CEO, James Mosley, who is identified in the lawsuit, didn’t respond to the Sun’s request for comment prior to press time.

The DA’s Office—which filed the lawsuit along with Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer—isn’t sure how many people have purchased this product in Santa Barbara County, but Dalbey said the office intends to find out during the discovery phase of this lawsuit.

Through this complaint, the attorneys are requesting that the company be forced to pay civil penalties of no less than $5 million. In addition to the penalties, the attorneys want to ensure that the company changes how it advertises its product to accurately reflect its effectiveness to the public.

“We’re not saying it has zero effectiveness, just that it doesn’t correspond with how it’s advertised,” Dalbey said. “The bigger picture is to protect the public so they have accurate information when deciding to protect their homes.”

—Zac Ezzone




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