Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
A 99 Cents Only store in Los Angeles on September 9, 2009
A federal judge has ordered a $400,000 fine for the "99 Cents Only" stores. The discount chain sold illegal pesticide products.
Between 2004 and 2008, 99 Cents stores in California and other states sold a household cleaner called Bref. Its label is in Spanish, and it claims to disinfect surfaces.
The stores also sold Farmer's Secret Berry & Produce cleaner – another unregistered pesticide – and a boric acid roach killer that was mislabeled. The federal Environmental Protection Agency said that offering those products for sale counts as 166 violations of a federal law that requires registration and labeling of pesticides and other similar products. The law's aimed at protecting people and the ecosystem they live in.
The 99 Cents Only store chain, based in Commerce, fought the agency in court. The result is a fine of nearly $410,000 – the largest the EPA has ever claimed from a product retailer that violated that law.
California is home to more than 200 99 Cents Only stores; Texas, Nevada and Arizona count stores too. Nevada and California inspectors were the ones who found the illegal products.