Steptoe's Prop 65 team is made up of seasoned lawyers with decades of experience counseling and defending companies in Prop 65 matters. Whether the client is large or small, whether the best course is to secure an early settlement or to defend the client and its product through trial, the Steptoe team works collaboratively with clients from the outset to provide a robust defense strategy dictated by the facts, our client's needs, and their bottom line. We know Proposition 65 and have litigated these cases since the law's 1986 inception. Our deep experience has resulted in getting trial verdicts for our clients – and in some cases we’ve convinced the courts to award costs and fees when we win.
Our clients include retail companies, distributors, and manufacturers who focus on the California market. We have defended products that run the gamut – health supplements and baby foods, personal care products and cosmetics, apparel and accessories, home goods, and automotive and heavy machinery.
The strength of a Prop 65 defense usually rises or falls on the amount of chemicals in a product. Is it at a level that triggers a duty to warn? To prove warnings are not required often necessitates product testing and sometimes hiring experts. This is where our team excels. Strengthened by both a partner with an engineering background and multiple scientists on staff, our team can often give clients a back-of-the-envelope assessment before having to involve outside experts – and more expense. When needed, we work with renown experts in the field to evaluate the case early.
It is often difficult for companies to understand how a product can be in "violation" and what that means. And, once on "the radar," is a company and the products it makes, sells, or ships to California ripe for more violation claims? Whether a company needs advice on how to avoid additional Prop 65 notices, or to discuss best practices for avoiding these claims altogether, we can help. We have experience working with clients to minimize the potential for Prop 65 violations, including reviewing and proposing changes in manufacturing and distribution processes, discussing the benefits of new ingredient sourcing, ideas on robust chemical testing, and showing the benefit of strengthening protections in supplier agreements. Steptoe works with each client to craft a defense that fits its unique needs.
- Environmental Research Center v. Aloe Vera, et al. - Obtained verdict after trial that foods and dietary supplements do not require Proposition 65 warnings. The verdict included an award of defense costs of $566,212, which is the largest and most significant defense cost award in the history of Proposition 65.
- Convinced the state to delist the chemical Diaminotoluene from the Proposition 65 list of carcinogenic chemicals. Steptoe’s lawyers petitioned and persuaded the state that the chemical did not meet the requirements for staying on the chemical 65 list.
- Consumer Advocacy Group v. Big Lots, et al. - Obtained and adjudicated dismissal with prejudice prior to trial, with award of costs. The plaintiff dismissed after the chemical at issue—Diaminotoluene used in cosmetics—was removed from the Proposition 65 list of chemicals.
- Achieved dismissal for manufacturer of generic over-the-counter medication on grounds of federal preemption.
- Obtained an adjudicated dismissal with prejudice of Proposition 65 claims that consumers were exposed to the phthalate DINP in protective gloves.
- Persuaded plaintiff to dismiss national manufacturing and retail clients in a case involving cadmium in over-the-counter antacids.
- Secured dismissal involving the chemicals lead and DEHP exposure in various consumer products after developing dispositive expert and testing showing chemicals were present in levels below the amount triggering warnings.
- Negotiated favorable resolution and judgment involving lead in supplement manufacturer's best-selling products worth millions in revenue.
- Convinced private enforcer to abandon case against national food manufacturer involving acrylamide in children's food based on federal preemption.
News & Publications
May 25, 2021
By: Dennis Raglin
April 6, 2021
February 10, 2021
January 19, 2021
June 25, 2020
January 7, 2020
Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute