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District Attorney Sues Fire-Prevention-Spray Maker

Joint Filing with Los Angeles Alleges False Advertising

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley, flanked by city and county fire officials, announced a false advertising civil suit against Sunseeker Enterprises over a fire protection spray on Monday. | Credit: Paul Wellman

When District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley first saw a commercial for Sun Fire Defense’s SPF 3000 Clear Spray, she was “immediately concerned this was a predatory company.” On Monday, August 5, Dudley announced a joint civil lawsuit with the city of Los Angeles against Sun Fire’s parent company, Sunseeker Enterprises, and its owner, James Moseley. Santa Barbara County’s DA and L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer allege that consumers might remain in their homes instead of evacuating, convinced that the product sprayed on their homes would protect them and the structure, “placing their lives, the lives of their loved ones, and the lives of first responders at great risk,” said Dudley. Moseley disputes their contentions.

An investigation led by Deputy DA Christopher Dalbey, who will prosecute the case, resulted in the filing of the lawsuit in Santa Barbara Superior Court for “allegedly false and misleading” advertising claims. A fire protection engineer conducted lab studies on the product during Dalbey’s investigation, City Fire Marshal Joe Poiré told the Independent, the results of which caused him to open the case.

The company’s spray purports to be an efficient preventative tool against fires once it has been applied to a home’s exterior. Poiré stated during the announcement that it has been difficult, even for him, to research the product. How could homeowners possibly be expected to do so on their own? he asked. If such a fire remedy existed, he continued, city, county, and state fire officials would certainly be aware of it. Since they weren’t, that called into question the safety and efficacy of the spray, Poiré said.

Contacted by phone, Jim Moseley said that the allegations were “entirely unfounded” and stated he would send the pages of reports and research that backed his spray. “Our product works,” he laster asserted in an email accompanying the reports, and “have been tested by multiple third-party agencies.” He stated he has been cooperating with Dudley’s office “as we also want what is good for the consumer. This is a huge responsibility for a company to do what we’re doing.”

Moseley’s bio at the company website describes him as a professional trombone player, insurance agency owner, and recipient of an award for his “fire protection application for public safety” in a 2014 L.A. Business Journal advertising supplement. The website further notes an advisory board that includes retired fire officials from Los Angeles County, Las Vegas, and New York. Testimonials at the company site include a couple up in Painted Cave and a woman from Santa Barbara.

A press release from Dudley’s office iterated what the DA considered Sunseeker’s deceptive claims, including that the product was nontoxic, protected up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, lasted more than five years, and was developed with NASA and the U.S. Forest Service. At Monday’s press conference, Poiré, Dudley, and Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig all emphasized their concern that consumers could be misled, especially now at the end of summer when the fire threat is high. Citing the inevitability of the next wildfire in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, the officials underscored the need for residents who felt threatened by a fire to evacuate, even before an official notice is issued.

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