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Prop 65 Defense

At the law firm of Willoughby, Stuart, Bening & Cook (WSBC), companies that are defending themselves against allegations of Proposition 65 violations can find the counsel they need to successfully navigate these challenging cases. Prop 65, the Safe Water Drinking Act of 1986, requires businesses to inform citizens of the presence of chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm in their products or facilities. Attorney George Dowell formerly represented plaintiffs in Prop 65 cases, which lends him a unique and valuable perspective in this highly specialized practice area.  

Determining Liability in Prop 65 Cases

With few exceptions, any business that sells products in the state of California must comply with the provisions of Prop 65. The legal team at WSBC can help your business handle allegations of infractions strategically in order to determine where true liability lies. For example, if you are exempt under a safe-harbor provision, but your products are distributed through a larger retailer, you may have civil liability from indemnity in the sales to that retailer rather than statutory liability directly to the consumers who purchased the product.

Federal statutes such as the Children’s Products Safety Act, as well as heightened international standards, have increased the pressure for every company involved in the chain of commerce, from manufacturer to distributor to retailer, to confirm their products meet specific standards for consumer safety. This added layer of regulation has led to greater plaintiff action because companies are now required to be more knowledgeable than ever about the contents of their products.

Prop 65 Defense in Action: Examining the Process

Before a complaint is filed against a company for an alleged violation of Prop 65, the complainant must first send a 60-day notice to that company or manufacturer, as well as the Attorney General, who then has the option of stepping in and taking over the litigation process. A complaint can then be filed at the end of this 60-day period. Complainants generally seek:

  • Civil penalties – up to $2,500 per violation
  • An injunction to requiring the reformulation of the product or including a warning that the product contains certain chemicals if reformulation is impossible
  • Recovery of the plaintiff’s attorney fees and costs

How WSBC Prop 65 Defense Attorneys Can Help

WSBC attorneys seek to streamline this process in order to mitigate the client’s exposure to exorbitant plaintiff attorney fees, while at the same time properly negotiating the amount of the civil penalty in order to maximize savings to the client. The first step is to use the 60-day period proactively to determine how many units were sold, what the scope of the defendant’s liability may be and whether there are any applicable safe harbor provisions to shield the defendant from liability. It is also important to determine whether there are any additional culpable parties, or downstream exposure in the chain of commerce.

Our attorneys then reach out to plaintiffs to begin discussing resolution early in the process to minimize both the civil liability and the exposure to attorney’s fees which can be substantial.

First-Rate Prop 65 Legal Representation at Reasonable Rates

WSBC offers legal representation from leading attorneys at rates that are lower than those of the large firms – an important distinction in Prop 65 cases, where defendants are likely be held responsible for plaintiff’s legal fees as well as their own.

In addition, WSBC is a boutique law firm where clients receive highly-targeted individual attention, minimizing expense and streamlining the legal process for faster results. Our experienced attorneys handle each case efficiently by focusing on the issues that positively effect resolution, rather than issues that simply generate fees. This understanding of Prop 65 and has allowed us to successfully represent companies nationwide in these cases. For companies in need of top-tier Prop 65 defense, look no further than the law firm of Willoughby, Stuart, Bening & Cook.

Contact George Dowell at 408-494-9207 for more information about Proposition 65 defense services.

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