Robin Stafford specializes in environmental law. Her practice has been focused on litigation of claims under federal and state environmental law, including CERCLA, RCRA, and California’s Proposition 65. Ms. Stafford has also assisted clients with litigation, permitting and other administrative actions, as well as compliance issues arising from stormwater regulations under the federal Clean Water Act, and has helped manage risks associated with real estate transactions by offering advice on environmental and contractual indemnity issues.
A substantial portion of Ms. Stafford’s practice includes counseling and defending clients in Proposition 65 litigation. She has defended a variety of companies in trial and appellate proceedings in courts throughout California, and represented them in related settlement negotiations and in a variety of administrative and legislative proceedings. These matters have involved companies and trade groups of all sizes, and a wide variety of products, including consumer electronics, foods, cosmetics and over-the-counter medications.
Ms. Stafford is recommended by Legal 500 US (2015-2016) in the area of product liability and mass tort defense: consumer products and toxic tort.
Clients that have benefited from Ms. Stafford’s assistance with respect to Proposition 65 matters include Burger King Corporation, Panasonic, RadioShack, Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, Dell Computer Corporation, Sanrio, Inc., Personal Care Products Council, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Masco Corporation, Yardbirds Home Center, Costco Corporation and Sergeant’s Pet Care Products. Litigation opponents have included the California attorney general, Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation/Klamath Environmental Law Center, Michael DiPirro and the Environmental Law Foundation.
Ms. Stafford earned her J.D., cum laude, and a Masters of Studies in Environmental Law, magna cum laude, from Vermont Law School in 1998. She was articles editor of the Vermont Law Review.
Bisphenol-A. Represented the American Chemistry Council in 2008 with respect to OEHHA’s original proposal to add BPA to the Proposition 65 list. OEHHA’s expert panel rejected that proposal in 2009. She currently advises the Grocery Manufacturers Association concerning OEHHA’s most recent proposal to list BPA through the “authoritative body” criterion of Proposition 65.
Acrylamide. Represented a coalition of trade associations for the processed foods, restaurant and grocery industries with respect to the issues raised by the discovery that acrylamide, a suspected carcinogen in its synthetic form, is a natural by-product of cooking many foods. This included representing the industry in connection with regulatory action by the State of California, as well as representing restaurants and food processors in numerous lawsuits involving claims associated with acrylamide in products they manufacture, process or serve.
Cosmetics. Obtained a published determination on behalf of the Personal Care Products Council from the California attorney general that lawsuits threatened by two separate private plaintiffs against cosmetic companies—claiming that trace levels of certain Proposition 65 chemicals in lipsticks pose a significant risk—had no merit. The case was dropped.
Underground Storage Tanks. Won demurrer, without leave to amend, to a Proposition 65 citizen suit brought against Costco by Consumer Defense Group Action (CDGA) claiming that its gasoline storage tanks threatened to discharge petroleum products into the waters of California. CDGA did not allege that any of the tanks at issue actually leaked, only that they likely would.
PVC Cords. Represented a group of 22 leading manufacturers, distributors and retailers (including, Sharp, Matsushita/Panasonic, Toshiba, Whirlpool, DeLonghi and Sunbeam) in two Proposition 65 lawsuits filed by Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation against hundreds of manufacturers, distributors and retailers of consumer electronics and appliances that had PVC-coated wires, cables and/or power cords. The lawsuits claimed that the companies failed to provide warnings to consumers who handled the PVC and were thereby exposed to lead. Obtained a freeze on discovery and negotiated a joint technical evaluation, and cost-effective, flexible settlement that was ultimately joined in by more than 200 companies. The settlement offered an exclusion from warning obligations for many products and an extensive menu of warning options for others. The settling companies were also allowed to participate in a settlement “opt-in” program, which resulted in an effective cost per participating company in the low five figures.
©1996-2019 Morrison & Foerster LLP. All rights reserved.