“ I lead teams that work tirelessly to deliver solutions to our clients’ most challenging environmental, health and safety issues, whether through negotiations with regulators or a forward-thinking litigation strategy.
Drawing on his considerable experience in environmental health, William (Bill) focuses his practice on environmental and consumer protection law, with an emphasis on hazardous substances, mass torts, and consumer product safety. Bill is highly regarded for his ability to coordinate technical, legal, and communications teams to counsel clients through crises. He has coordinated FDA and CPSC-led recalls of various products, as has served as national coordinating counsel for litigation related to those recalls. He has argued motions and tried cases in state and federal courts for a variety of complex and multidistrict litigation matters, including product liability claims and environmental disputes.
Bill is recommended by Legal 500 US (2011–2018) in product liability and mass tort defense and is described as “an experienced counsel who is an excellent leader and has great knowledge of the law.” For the past seven years, San Francisco magazine has recognized Bill in its “Super Lawyers” list for his work in environmental and consumer litigation. In 2014, he was chosen as the exclusive recipient of the Client Choice Award for Environmental Law in California and as a Rising Star in Environmental Law by Law360.
Bill has also broad experience in consumer class action and false advertising litigation, especially concerning claims of health or environmental benefits. He has also advised numerous well‑known life sciences, technology, and consumer product companies on consumer disclosures and warnings, including compliance with U.S. and European requirements governing product safety.
Bill has represented the firm’s clients in all aspects of environmental regulation and has represented companies before regulatory agencies in rulemaking proceedings, permit applications, and appeals and enforcement actions. Bill heads MoFo’s environmental due diligence teams and serves as the lead on transactional negotiations involving environmental liability risks, including significant experience in cross-border transactions.
Before entering private practice, Bill clerked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region IX Office of Regional Counsel, where he assisted in the prosecution and resolution of cases brought by the U.S. Department of Justice for violation of hazardous waste and water quality laws.
Bill received his J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center with honors and completed the Law and Public Health program sponsored by Georgetown University and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Through this program, he earned a master’s in public health, as well as specialty certification in environmental health risk assessment from the Johns Hopkins Risk Sciences and Public Policy Institute. At Georgetown, he was an executive editor of the Georgetown International Environmental Law Journal and received the CALI Award for Excellence in International Environmental Law. In 2000, he studied law at the Universidad de Mendoza, in Mendoza, Argentina, as an international law fellow. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley.Show More
Bill was lead counsel for Lumber Liquidators, the nation’s largest specialty retailer of hardwood flooring, in over 130 class action cases in 28 states, a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission investigation, a California Air Resources Board enforcement action, and several state attorney general investigations. These matters arose from a 60 Minutes report alleging that the Company’s laminate flooring exposed consumers to excessive amounts for formaldehyde. Morrison successfully defended Lumber Liquidators in a trial based on California’s chemical warning law, Prop. 65, resolved the U.S. CPSC investigation without the need for a traditional recall, and resolved the remaining class action matters on favorable terms.
In the largest environmental bankruptcy in recent years, Bill was the lead environmental counsel for Debtor Maxus Energy Corporation. Maxus declared bankruptcy as it faced nearly $14 billon of environmental liabilities flowing from several legacy contaminated sites, including remediation of the Pasaaic River Superfund Site in New Jersey, the largest site in the United States. Bill led the successful efforts to resolve those liabilities (over creditor objections) and transfer obligations to otherwise responsible parties.
Bill was lead counsel to the manufacturer and retailers of Hydroxycut, a popular weight loss supplement in over 100 personal injury cases, as well as nationwide false advertising and unfair competition class action claims that were brought in a federal multidistrict litigation proceeding and coordinated mass tort claims in three states. After extensive litigation to the eve of trial, the matter was resolved globally through mediation.
Won a victory for client LAWA in a trial against a supplier that breached a contract to provide LAWA with highly specialized Airport Rescue Firefighting (ARFF) vehicles. After years of delay, and after receiving millions of dollars in payment from LAWA, the supplier delivered defective trucks that not only failed to meet LAWA’s performance, safety, and regulatory requirements, but put the safety of airport firefighters and the traveling public at risk. The supplier also asserted claims against LAWA. During trial, the 12-member jury unanimously found in favor of our client, finding that LAWA was not liable for breach of contract or good faith and fair dealing claims brought by the plaintiff.
In a scientifically intensive trial, Bill led the development of experts in toxicology, food consumption, geology, agriculture, and food safety required to defend 10 major baby food and fruit juice brands from claims that they had excessive levels of lead in their products. After a four-week trial, the judge entered judgment in favor of the defense, finding that levels in the products fell below the threshold required by California’s Proposition 65 — one of the most significant trial court decisions in the statute’s 25-year history. The California Court of Appeal upheld the trial court’s decision.
Bill was a part of the multi-office team that represented Fitbit before the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission with regard to the recall of one of its first wristbound trackers, the Fitbit Force. He worked with the legal and scientific teams to identify and mitigate the risk associated with the product and communicate that risk effectively to regulators and the public. Morrison & Foerster defended Fitbit in five class action lawsuits and over 300 personal injury lawsuits arising from the recall, all of which were favorably resolved.
Bill represented The Coca-Cola Company in a lawsuit filed by the California Attorney General and Los Angeles City Attorney alleging unfair competition, defective design, public nuisance, and violation of Proposition 65, stemming from the unauthorized sale of Mexican Coca-Cola in California. After nearly three years of negotiations, all claims were resolved by consent judgment. Following entry of the consent judgment, we defended the company in follow-on attorney-fee litigation initiated by the private citizen who issued the initial Proposition 65 violation notice, reducing the multimillion fee claim by 90%.
Represented Seagate Technology in its efforts to address hazardous material contamination that resulted from the abrupt bankruptcy and shut down of Solyndra’s 400,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and headquarters. Remediating this facility and putting it back into use is a high priority for the City of Fremont, California, as well as local environmental regulators.
Bill successfully secured the dismissal of a threatened Proposition 65 enforcement action that claimed that the Company’s signature Clif Bar contained elevated levels of acrylamide, a known human carcinogen. Bill coordinated the legal and scientific defense to convince the experienced plaintiff’s counsel that their case lacked merit.
Legal 500 US, 2018 – 2019
Legal 500 US, 2017 – 2019
Legal 500 US, 2017 – 2019