Laura Duncan is passionate about helping clients successfully navigate the rapidly expanding areas of product and environmental regulation. A significant portion of Laura’s practice is focused on restricted chemicals; pesticide regulation; California’s Proposition 65; requirements applicable to consumer, industrial and children’s products; regulation of wood products under the Lacey Act and formaldehyde regulations; and the regulation of ozone depleting substances, electronics, and textiles. Clients give Laura high marks for her responsive and practical advice, dedication to learning their business and cost effectiveness.
Not only is Laura on point in a crisis, she takes the time to educate clients on emerging requirements so they can be proactive in addressing legal issues before they become problems. She defends clients in investigations and environmental enforcement actions, provides strategic advice to help clients reduce product safety and supply chain risks, and helps clients develop tools to achieve consistent product and environmental compliance across jurisdictions. Prior to joining Marten Law, Laura Duncan was a shareholder in the San Francisco office of Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., where she was the leader of that firm’s Global Product Stewardship and Chemicals practice group.
- Defended U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state enforcement actions related to unregistered and/or misbranded pesticide sales, including industrial chemicals, pool chemicals, and consumer products.
- Advised clients regarding exemptions from registration requirements under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) for treated articles, minimum risk pesticides, and research purposes.
- Defended numerous enforcement actions brought by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation related to pesticide registration and labeling and California pesticide mill tax assessments. Successfully argued for multimillion-dollar reductions of assessed sales in California pesticide mill tax audits.
- Prepared pesticide supplemental distribution agreements.
- Advised grocery retailer on corporate ODS management policy for refrigerants, incorporating procedure, reporting, recordkeeping and record retention requirements under EPA regulations and the California Refrigerant Management Program.
- Prepared voluntary self-disclosure of Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) violations discovered by a national telecommunications company for submission under the EPA’s Audit Policy, resulting in a significantly reduced penalty.
- Advised chemical distributors and formulated products manufacturers on U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency regulation of List I and List II chemicals (common chemicals regulated based on their use in the manufacture of controlled substances) and California Controlled Chemical Substance requirements and permitting for controlled substances.
Consumer Product Safety
- Advised multinational consumer products manufacturer on environmental and product safety requirements related to a broad portfolio of sports and outdoor equipment, apparel, and toys/children’s products.
- Performed product safety assessments and reviews of product safety warning labels and product instruction manuals.
- Provided strategic counsel regarding potential consumer product recalls. Prepared a section 15(b) voluntary disclosure submitted to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and obtained CPSC approval to export the safe but technically non-compliant items to the client’s home jurisdiction.
- Provided advice to companies and trade associations related to Proposition 65 warnings for consumer products, including guidance on testing and documentation of decisions not to warn.
- Defended Proposition 65 litigation related to consumer products. Negotiated settlements to minimize expense, business disruption and reputational impacts.
- Advised companies on Proposition 65 requirements related to discharge of listed chemicals into water and occupational exposures to listed chemicals.
- Advised company and trade association clients on the California Air Resources Board’s Air Toxic Control Measure regulation for formaldehyde in composite wood products and prepared guidance regarding the recently finalized EPA rule on formaldehyde in wood, promulgated under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
- Defended CARB enforcement actions related to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in consumer products; advised clients on VOC compliance, testing and CARB VOC surveys.
- Advised Fortune 100 client regarding California Energy Commission Appliance Efficiency Regulations.
- Developed company policies and due diligence protocols, supplier agreements and buyer training to minimize Lacey Act compliance risks for a Fortune 50 company.
- Prepared and updated global material restriction specifications for multinational electronics manufacturer to ensure that suppliers provide materials and components that will result in legally compliant finished products in all jurisdictions where products are sold.
- Assessed and advised a Fortune 100 company on legal and reputational risk related to sourcing of pulp and paper products. Prepared agreements and supplier certifications to minimize risks.
Product Takeback and Recycling Fees
- Advised clients regarding state beverage container deposit and recycling laws and developed comprehensive compliance strategies for same.
- Advised manufacturers and trade associations regarding material restrictions and takeback requirements for covered electronic devices, cellular phones and batteries.
- Advised major retailer regarding advance recycling fees and product take back requirements applicable to paint, carpet, mattresses, tires, automotive batteries, motor oil, and other products.
- Analyzed proposed rules and prepared written comments on behalf of company and trade association clients, achieving modifications to key regulatory language.
- Challenged underground regulations issued or enforced by state agencies in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.
- Prepared strategy and talking points for engagement with legislators and state agencies on proposed laws.