LOS ANGELES (CN) – Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer filed a lawsuit Monday claiming a California company deceived residents in fire-prone areas by touting an exterior paint product it said could prevent homes from catching fire or burning down during a wildfire.
More than 17,000 wildfires have devastated the Golden State in the past two years, claiming the lives of nearly 150 residents, destroying thousands of homes and devouring over 3 million acres of forest.
Sunseeker Enterprises – a Marina Del Ray, California-based company doing business as Sun FireDefense – claimed that its SPF 3000 Clear Spray product would protect residents’ homes from the ever-increasing threat of wildfire damage.
But Feuer says in the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court that after testing the product – which costs $3.50 per square foot – his office found the coating is not an effective fire protection.
“This testing indicates that SPF 3000 does not protect as advertised, if it even protects at all,” the complaint says, noting the product also contains volatile and corrosive chemicals that are harmful to the environment.
Feuer told reporters Monday that because wildfires are becoming more frequent due to climate change, the lives of California residents and firefighters battling blazes could be jeopardized by faulty products and information.
“If you’re selling a product that you claim protects homes from wildfires, it better work as advertised.” Feuer said. “Lives depend on it.”
Sunseeker founder James Moseley denied the claims made by Feuer but vowed to cooperate in the case.
“Our product works and although there is nothing out there that is fireproof, our products have been tested by multiple agencies as you can see below and witnessed by seasoned fire officials and we haven’t had any complaints,” Moseley said. “We have been and will continue to cooperate with the DA as we also want what is good for the consumer. Keep in mind that the Discovery Channel segment was performed by Wildland Firefighters.”
The lawsuit, jointly filed with Santa Barbara District Attorney Joyce Dudley, was sparked after Dudley saw the television commercial for the SPF 3000 spray.
“As soon as I saw a commercial for this product I was skeptical,” Dudley said in a statement Monday. “If consumers falsely believe that their homes are protected from wildfires, when in fact their homes are not, those consumers could delay evacuation, placing their lives, the lives of their families and loved ones, and the lives of first responders at great risk.”
Feuer said the company and Moseley falsely claimed that the product was developed in partnership with NASA and the U.S Forest Service and that it could protect homes from heat and embers up to 3000 degrees Fahrenheit for five years.
A NASA spokesperson said the agency is not aware of having done any work with Sunseeker or Moseley.
Feuer’s lawsuit also claims the company misled customers by placing logos from presumably endorsing organizations on the product, including the National Fire Protection Association, the Discovery Channel, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the Los Angeles Times.
“Sunseeker has not provided documentation establishing endorsements from these organizations,” Feuer said in the statement.
Feuer also urged California residents to avoid scams involving fake charity organizations, “fraudulent but official-looking fire inspectors” who demand payment on site and price-gouging by stores selling emergency supplies.
The lawsuit seeks $5 million in civil penalties.