The state attorney general's office Friday filed a false-advertising lawsuit against Empire State Exterminating, a Buffalo pest-control company accused of passing off cancer-causing materials as harmless all-natural ingredients.
Mark Carey, an Albany spokesman for Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco, said Vacco is seeking financial penalties for the company's alleged violations of the state's business laws and court orders barring the firm from continuing its allegedly misleading ads.
Carey said Empire, which is being sued in State Supreme Court in Buffalo, is the only pest-control firm statewide that is still fighting the state law office over its Yellow Page advertisements.
Empire is accused of advertising itself as offering "natural products to protect the ones you love," accompanied by a picture of a child and a puppy.
In reality, Carey said, Empire uses a variety of potentially toxic pesticides, including at least one classified by federal officials as a possible human carcinogen.
Steve Dorobiala, vice president of the 15-year-old firm with 12 employees based at 2325 Bailey Ave., said, "I will be meeting with my attorney Monday at noon to defend this action."
Dorobiala has been disputing the attorney general's claims about his company's ads since July, court officials said.
Last summer, Dorobiala threatened to counter-sue the attorney general's office if it didn't stop harassing his firm. He declined to comment Friday on a possible countersuit.
Carey said Empire State, which claims to have hundreds of satisfied Western New York customers, was warned last summer by Vacco to correct its advertising.
The attorney general's Environmental Protection Bureau did a yearlong study of pest-control firms statewide and found 82 firms with misleading ads, Carey said.
All but Empire State have agreed to alter their ads, including Buffalo's A-1 International Exterminators, which reached an out-of-court settlement last month, Carey said.