Settlement reached with Walmart over sale of brass knuckles

“Illegal weapons have no place in California. The settlement we have reached with Walmart makes crystal clear that online retailers are responsible for what they are allowing to be offered for sale in our state,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

In a complaint filed by the attorney general, Bonta alleges that sold approximately 250 products that may be classified as brass knuckles and that 60% were sold directly by Walmart while the remaining 40% were sold by third-party sellers that use their e-commerce platform.

“Walmart has engaged in acts or practices that constitute unfair competition as defined in the Business and Professions Code,” the complaint stated.

A press release from the Department of Justice office said “Offering or exposing for sale of metal knuckles and other dangerous weapons in violation of applicable Penal Code sections violates the unlawful prong of the Unfair Competition Law, Business and Professions Code sections 17200.”

“It was too easy for our investigators to make online purchases of illegal brass knuckles,” said Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko. “Walmart, and other retailers need to take a hard look at their online sales practices and ensure that they are in compliance with California law.”

Along with Merced County District Attorney Nicole Silveira, Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko, and Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig, Bonta announced that a settlement was reached with Walmart marking the result of an investigation conducted by the California Department of Justice in partnership with the District Attorney’s Offices of Merced, Ventura, and Yolo Counties.

“I’d like to thank the legal team from our Consumer Protection Section as well as Merced County District Attorney Nicole Silveira, Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig, and Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko for their partnership,” Bonta said.

The terms of the settlement will require Walmart to pay $125,000 each in civil penalties and costs to the Department of Justice and the district attorneys’ Offices of Merced County, Ventura County and Yolo County amounting to a total settlement of $500,000.

Walmart will also be required to:

Be prohibited from selling brass knuckles on its website;Be required to prohibit third-party sellers from offering or exposing for sale or selling illegal weapons on its platform;Be required to implement and maintain policies and procedures reasonably designed to prevent sales of illegal weapons by third-party sellers;Be required to provide a mechanism on each individual product page to allow customers to report the offering or exposing for sale or sale of unlawful weapons to California;Be required to take reasonable steps to identify California consumers who have purchased unlawful weapons from Walmart and send a notice to those consumers notifying them that the item may be unlawful and that they may contact their local law enforcement agency for information on how to properly surrender the item; andBe required to provide compliance reports for five years on a semi-annual basis for the first year and on an annual basis thereafter.

“Brass knuckles sold online are just as dangerous to our community as if they were sold from a store counter,” said Merced County District Attorney Nicole Silveira. “Online retailers must put safety over profits. We are encouraged by the steps taken by Walmart as a result of our investigation and confident that today’s agreement will put an end to future sales.”

The settlement judgement states “Walmart does not admit to the People’s allegations set forth in the Complaint, and does not admit that any violation has occurred. Walmart believes its policies and procedures continue to be in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Nevertheless, in exchange for the release provided in the Judgment, Walmart is willing to enter into this Stipulation and the Judgment in order to resolve this matter, and thereby avoid the significant time and expense of litigation.”

“The Parties have stipulated and consented to the entry of the Judgment without the taking of proof and without trial or adjudication of any fact or law herein, “ the judgement continued.

“Upon being notified by our offices, Walmart’s upper management, IT, and attorneys moved quickly to address the root cause of these weapon sales,” said Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig. “Walmart’s actions have gone a long way in halting what were initially alarming issues and we are looking forward to building upon this good work going forward.”

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