AUSTIN, TEXAS (June 18, 1:15 p.m. ET) — Eastman Chemical Co. is wrapped up in a legal battle with a pair of Texas firms over claims surounding Eastman's Tritan-brand copolyester.
Kingsport, Tenn.-based Eastman filed a lawsuit in January in U.S. District Court in Austin, Texas, against PlastiPure Inc. and CertiChem Inc., two additive firms in Austin that share similar ownership.
In the suit, Eastman alleges that PlastiPure and CertiChem have claimed to customers that the Tritan material shows estrogenic activity (EA), even though it does not contain bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical ingredient found in polycarbonate. BPA had been criticized for alleged health risks, allowing Eastman and other firms to promote their materials as being BPA-free.
A 2008 white paper published by PlastiPure/CertiChem mentions BPA-free plastics that exhibit EA, although it does not mention Tritan by name. A 2010 brochure released by PlastiPure at an infant care trade show — and later made available on the firm's web site — was titled “EA-Free Plastic Products: Beyond BPA Free.”
In 2011, Plastipure was featured on National Public Radio's “All Things Considered” radio program. A subsequent item on NPR's web site showed photos of products made from Tritan, although Eastman again was not mentioned by name.
“Eastman knew these statements [regarding estrogenic activity] to be false and misleading because of the results of its own tests,” Eastman's attorneys wrote in the filing. “Through this media coverage, PlastiPure continued its pattern of attempting to create consumer fear of plastics so that PlastiPure and CertiChem…could capitalize on the market opportunity.”
Eastman is asking the court to prevent PlastiPure and CeriChem from making EA claims against Tritan in any way, including advertising or promotions.
PlastiPure and CertiChem countered in a Feb. 23 motion to dismiss the case that Eastman “has attempted to use this lawsuit as a proxy for censorship of test results performed on products manufactured from Tritan unrelated to the presence of BPA.”
The case remains active in U.S. District Court. An April 10 filing from U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks said that trial would begin in July, but no date has been set.