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CarMax Settles Environmental Lawsuit With 16 DA's Offices, Including SD County

A sign at the CarMax dealership in Manchester, N.H., Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019.
Charles Krupa / AP
A sign at the CarMax dealership in Manchester, N.H., Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019.

A $1.6 million settlement was announced Tuesday in an environmental lawsuit filed against CarMax alleging illegal dumping of hazardous materials in dumpsters at company stores across the state, including two in San Diego County.

The case was brought on by 16 District Attorney's Offices throughout the state, including San Diego County, where stores in Kearny Mesa and Escondido were found to be out of compliance with hazardous materials and hazardous waste laws, according to District Attorney Summer Stephan.

A years-long undercover investigation found that materials such as auto body sanding dust, sanding pads, automotive paints, clear coats, solvents, non-empty aerosols, and other hazardous substances used during the auto body repair process were unlawfully disposed at CarMax stores between 2014 and 2020, Stephan said.


The settlement requires CarMax to pay $1 million in civil penalties and $300,000 for investigative costs, of which nearly $60,000 will go to the San Diego County District Attorney's Office.

CarMax will also pay $300,000 to fund supplemental environmental projects furthering consumer protection and environmental enforcement in California, Stephan said.

The settlement also mandates training, reporting and compliance with regulations on handling hazardous materials and hazardous wastes. CarMax was cooperative throughout the investigation and implemented training and compliance programs at its stores as a result, Stephan said.

"This settlement holds CarMax accountable for violating laws that are in place to protect the environment," Stephan said.

"These types of investigations and settlements are a reminder to corporations that they have a responsibility to be a good steward to our environment or face consequences."

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