Michèle B. Corash

Michèle B. Corash

Senior Partner

San Francisco, (415) 268-7124

Education

Mount Holyoke College (B.A., 1967)
New York University School of Law (J.D., 1970)

Bar Admissions

California

Michèle Corash is nationally recognized as a leader in her field. She has received the highest rating (Band 1) from Chambers USA for every year the directory has ranked environmental lawyers, and has been listed in Best Lawyers in America as a leader in the field of environmental law since its inception. Best Lawyers also named Ms. Corash “Lawyer of the Year” in 2013 for San Francisco Litigation – Environmental, an honor given to a single lawyer in the metropolitan area. In 2013, the Daily Journal named her to its annual “Top 100” list, which honors 100 California lawyers whose work is recognized as having the “widest impact and is changing an industry or the law or the society as a whole.” Ms. Corash has been recognized as one of the country’s top two environmental lawyers by the United States Lawyer Rankings in its list of the “Nation’s Top 10 Environmental Lawyers” since 2006. California Lawyer cited her as one of the “Best of the West” because of landmark wins in two Proposition 65 court decisions. The San Francisco Business Times recognized Ms. Corash as one of the “Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business” in 2011 and, again, in 2013. She is listed among Northern California’s top 50 female Super Lawyers, as well as in the top 100 lawyers overall. Ms. Corash has been repeatedly named to the “Top California Women Litigators” list by the Daily Journal. She was listed in Legal Media Group’s Expert Guides to the World’s Leading Lawyers – The Best of the Best (a guide to the world’s 20 leading practitioners across 10 areas of law based on peer nomination). Ms. Corash was identified as being the best in environmental law by Euromoney Legal Media Group at its inaugural Americas Women in Business Law Awards ceremony in May 2012. Legal 500 US ranks her as a Leading Lawyer in Environmental Litigation, Toxic Torts, as well as Appellate Litigation, and also recommends her in Consumer Products (Product Liability and Mass Tort Defense). Ms. Corash is a founding member and past president of the American College of Environmental Law.

 

Ms. Corash served as general counsel of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 1979 to 1982. She previously served as deputy general counsel for the U.S. Department of Energy and special assistant to the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. As EPA general counsel, she served on several White House task forces and was a member of the interagency committee of the EPA, FDA, FTC, and the Department of Agriculture that dealt with regulatory issues involving food, drug, and other consumer products. Ms. Corash was also a member of Vice President Bush’s Regulatory Reform Task Force. Former California Governor Wilson appointed her to his blue ribbon task force for unifying and improving the state environmental laws.

 

Environmental

Ms. Corash represents companies on a broad range of national, international, and environmental issues. Her clients include companies in the electronics, consumer products, food and beverage, land development, construction, petrochemical, and defense industries, among others. She also works regularly with government agencies and legislatures in the development and implementation of environmental laws and programs.

 

Consumer Actions/Unfair Competition

While Ms. Corash is recognized as one of the country's leading environmental lawyers, a significant component of her practice in the last decade has been actions brought under state consumer and competition protection statutes, including false advertising and false claims statutes. She has defended clients in several hundred actions brought under California's Unfair Competition and False Advertising Act, the California Legal Remedies Act, and Proposition 65. These have included cases litigated to judgment for her clients, as well as many successfully negotiated settlements. 

 

Proposition 65

Ms. Corash is considered one of the nation's leading experts on Proposition 65 ("Prop 65"), the California voter initiative adopted in 1986.  She signed the ballot argument against the initiative and, since its adoption, has been the business community's principal spokesperson on the statute and its implementing regulations.  In naming her one of the 100 Most Influential Attorneys in California, the September 2002 California Daily Journal commented that "Corporate America calls on [her] to defend it against Proposition 65 lawsuits." 

 

Ms. Corash defended the first enforcement action brought under Prop 65, and she has defended hundreds of subsequent enforcement actions. These have included cases litigated to judgment for her clients as well as many cases successfully negotiated to settlement. She won the first defense verdict under the statute and has won every Prop 65 case she has litigated to judgment thereafter. These cases have involved food and other consumer products, chemicals, emissions from vehicles, ships and stationary sources, and agricultural products, among others.

 

Superfund and Hazardous Waste

Ms. Corash has been active in superfund and hazardous waste matters since 1980, when she helped draft the original superfund statute — the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act — and the first comprehensive federal hazardous waste regulations. She was one of two private lawyers subsequently appointed by the EPA administrator to evaluate the hazardous waste laws. Ms. Corash has testified before Congress and several state legislatures on the amending or writing of superfund and hazardous waste-related provisions. She also helped draft the hazardous waste laws of Thailand. She has represented clients at many of the country's most controversial superfund sites, including the Lowry Landfill in Denver, the San Fernando Valley site in Burbank, the MEW site in Menlo Park, and Commencement Bay in Seattle. She recently won a substantial contribution from the United States government for the cost of cleaning up an abandoned mine in Oregon.

 

Ms. Corash has defended clients in numerous enforcement actions brought under a wide variety of state and federal environmental and toxics laws by attorneys general, district attorneys, and citizens' groups. She has also brought and defended cost recovery actions. 

 

Ms. Corash has represented companies in Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) litigation and advised them on RCRA compliance, including the permitting, operation, and closure of treatment, storage, and disposal facilities. She has testified as an expert witness on RCRA closure requirements. 

 

Ms. Corash defended one of California's largest environmental criminal actions. 

 

Real Estate and Banking

In addition to representing clients in litigation matters involving the environmental liabilities associated with real estate investments, Ms. Corash has counseled lenders and those acquiring and selling properties on environmental issues affecting real estate transactions. She negotiated the first agreement ever entered by the EPA releasing a foreclosing lender and its successors from cleanup liability at a Superfund site. She successfully defended Bank One in federal court against claims asserting that, as trustee, the bank was liable for contaminated property held in trust.  She also has represented Sanwa Bank in connection with similar claims.


TiO2 Joint Defense Group
Defended over 30 companies, including most major cosmetic makers, in a suit alleging that titanium dioxide, which is commonly used as a key ingredient in cosmetics and sunscreens, causes a risk of cancer. Our motion for summary judgment was granted in July 2015. Plaintiff’s expert admitted that he could not specify which TiO2-containing products might result in exposure, and all he could say was that it was more likely than not that some products would require a cancer warning. The court agreed with our argument that such expert opinion does not provide a “credible factual basis” for going to trial. Plaintiff has agreed not to pursue an appeal of the judgment.
Council for Education and Research On Toxics (CERT) Coffee Litigation
(Cal. Superior Court, Los Angeles). Represent virtually every major producer of packaged or brewed coffee sold in California—including Folgers, Green Mountain Roasters, illy, and Maxwell House—in two lawsuits brought by CERT regarding the presence of acrylamide in coffee. This matter is submitted and awaiting decision from a 21-day bench trial in Los Angeles Superior Court (Civil Central West Division).
Environmental Law Foundation v. Beech-Nut Nutrition Corp., et al.
(Cal. Superior Court, Alameda County). Scored trial and appellate victories for Del Monte, Dole, Gerber, Smucker’s, Welch’s, and 10 other companies in a case brought by the Environmental Law Foundation and Baron & Budd class action firm. Plaintiff argued that the companies’ baby food, fruit juice, and packaged fruit products must carry cancer and birth defect warnings because they contained trace levels of lead, notwithstanding the FDA’s findings that they were safe and posed no unacceptable health risk. The trial judge and unanimous panel of the California Court of Appeal rejected arguments that California’s Proposition 65 law required warnings on these products and rejected an enforcement policy long advanced by the California attorney general and numerous plaintiffs’ groups that falsely assumed that every type of food is consumed each and every single day of the year. This decision, considered to be one of the most significant in Proposition 65’s 25-year history, opens the doors to companies that wish to use expert testimony based on actual exposure data to defend themselves, and may have application, including to consumer class action cases, going forward.
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine v. KFC Corp.
Secured a victory on behalf of KFC and YUM! in Proposition 65 enforcement action brought by a vegan group seeking to use Proposition 65 warnings to stigmatize the consumption of grilled chicken. The trial court sustained defendants’ demurrer on a number of grounds, including that the plaintiff’s failure to obtain evidence of an actual violation of Proposition 65 before serving its mandatory pre-suit notice rendered its notice inadequate and its complaint invalid. The California Court of Appeal agreed, affirming the judgment in February 2014.

Michèle Corash is nationally recognized as a leader in her field. She has received the highest rating (Band 1) from Chambers USA for every year the directory has ranked environmental lawyers, and has been listed in Best Lawyers in America as a leader in the field of environmental law since its inception. Best Lawyers also named Ms. Corash “Lawyer of the Year” in 2013 for San Francisco Litigation – Environmental, an honor given to a single lawyer in the metropolitan area. In 2013, the Daily Journal named her to its annual “Top 100” list, which honors 100 California lawyers whose work is recognized as having the “widest impact and is changing an industry or the law or the society as a whole.” Ms. Corash has been recognized as one of the country’s top two environmental lawyers by the United States Lawyer Rankings in its list of the “Nation’s Top 10 Environmental Lawyers” since 2006. California Lawyer cited her as one of the “Best of the West” because of landmark wins in two Proposition 65 court decisions. The San Francisco Business Times recognized Ms. Corash as one of the “Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business” in 2011 and, again, in 2013. She is listed among Northern California’s top 50 female Super Lawyers, as well as in the top 100 lawyers overall. Ms. Corash has been repeatedly named to the “Top California Women Litigators” list by the Daily Journal. She was listed in Legal Media Group’s Expert Guides to the World’s Leading Lawyers – The Best of the Best (a guide to the world’s 20 leading practitioners across 10 areas of law based on peer nomination). Ms. Corash was identified as being the best in environmental law by Euromoney Legal Media Group at its inaugural Americas Women in Business Law Awards ceremony in May 2012. Legal 500 US ranks her as a Leading Lawyer in Environmental Litigation, Toxic Torts, as well as Appellate Litigation, and also recommends her in Consumer Products (Product Liability and Mass Tort Defense). Ms. Corash is a founding member and past president of the American College of Environmental Law.

Michèle Corash Named American Lawyer Litigator of the Week


Daily Journal names Michèle Corash as one of California’s “Top 100 Lawyers.”


Best Lawyers names Ms. Corash “Lawyer of the Year” in 2013 for San Francisco Litigation – Environmental.

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