Julia Hatcher helps clients navigate laws that control chemicals and products at every life cycle stage, including the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Superfund law (CERCLA), the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, federal transportation statutes, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and related state laws, as well as the intersection of these laws with toxic tort liability. Her chemicals knowledge also extends to consumer products-related requirements for labeling, reporting, “green” and “health” claims, and recalls administered by the Consumer Products Safety Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and state counterpart agencies.
Ms. Hatcher’s experience includes international chemical control requirements, such as the European Union Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH); the Stockholm Convention; and the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP).
Ms. Hatcher helps client navigate multiple federal agencies, including the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), and the Department of Transportation (DOT); agency sub-units, including the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC); and state counterpart agencies.
She assists clients addressing a wide array of chemicals and products regulatory requirements, such as to obtain new chemical and product approvals; to comply with requirements governing emissions, disposal, and claims pertaining to chemical content, hazards, health benefits, and “green” attributes; to determine whether and when reporting has been triggered as to a “defect”, “substantial hazard,” or “substantial risk”; and to perform specialized due diligence for transactions involving chemicals and products manufacturers.
Ms. Hatcher’s practice also includes strategic legal risk management and product defense. She helps clients with reference not only to current legal requirements, but also to emerging areas, such as the measurement of chemicals in the body, nanotechnology, and climate change. In this aspect of her practice, Ms. Hatcher works with clients to anticipate potential future business-threatening regulatory requirements and activist tactics and assists them to manage these challenges through various measures, such as, for example, product substitution and product defense based on marshalling data to show absence of risk, the criticality of the product due to the lack of substitutes, and/or the environmental and societal benefits of the product.
Ms. Hatcher also relies on her experience to recognize the potential for litigation liability that can stem from regulatory approvals, compliance decisions/actions, product substitution, and product defense, and to assist in managing these legal risks.
Ms. Hatcher has particular experience in the chemical, automotive, semiconductor, electronics, and personal care products industries. She also has deep knowledge of various “emerging contaminant” chemistries, including in particular, per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemistries, such as perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
Prior to practicing law, Ms. Hatcher served as a law clerk intern for Chief Judge Harry T. Edwards of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Ms. Hatcher’s representative experience includes:
- She has advised chemical manufacturers and processors on various regulatory and litigation matters involving the detection of chemicals in the human body, including numerous matters involving long-chain perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) and substances that may degrade to form them, such as PFOS and PFOA
- She advised a major automobile manufacturer in connection with its vehicle service and recall campaigns. Recent work entailed leading a large, multi-disciplinary team to obtain approvals and assure compliance at the dealer-level with a complex web of air, waste, zoning, building, and fire code regulatory compliance issues across more than 20 states and addressing waste issues raised by a separate component part recall.
- She advised an aircraft industry company in connection with an investigation by the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board and related enforcement matters before the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration stemming from the company’s disposal of unspent oxygen generators as hazardous waste that were alleged to have contributed to a fire and evacuation situation.
- She advised a major automobile manufacturer in addressing federal, state, and local regulatory impediments to the introduction of its new mobility technologies.
- She has advised chemical and consumer product companies on litigation matters that implicate regulatory requirements. Recent examples include on a False Claims Act case alleging TSCA violations on which she and the team prevailed in the D.C. Circuit upholding dismissal and construction product liability cases involving formaldehyde exposure for which Ms. Hatcher managed advocacy with the CPSC to recognize that the client’s product is not a “consumer product” and to respond to complaints filed on the CPSC’s saferproducts.gov portal through plaintiffs’ law firm.
- She has advised various individual companies by leading special investigations into product- and manufacturing-related risks pertaining to the intersection between regulatory, public policy, and litigation. For example, Ms. Hatcher led a multi-year TSCA auditing effort for 3M Company that resulted an innovative settlement with US EPA involving pre-negotiated penalties. As another example, she is currently representing a major automotive manufacturer in connection with a TSCA Inventory enforcement matter involving issues of first impression pertaining to the knowledge requirement for a chemical “user” and the appropriate circumstances for enhancement of gravity-based penalties.
- She has advised various investment banks on private equity and M&A transactions in which the circumstances warrant performing specialized chemical-related diligence, with a particular focus on future material obligations that may arise under, for example, new chemical laws, such as the EU’s REACH regulation and Biocides Product Directive, as well as the potential for significant business impacts if these laws end up either banning a chemical that is critical to the target company or stigmatizing that chemical in a manner which may force deselection in the marketplace.
- She has advised numerous clients seeking to defend their products in a variety of venues, including new product reviews/approvals by regulators, recall actions by governments, scientific review processes by United Nations organizations and under international treaties, and attacks by environmental and other non-governmental organizations. As one example, Ms. Hatcher is currently representing a major vaccine manufacturer seeking to defend its product after a scientifically questionable World Health Organization review process led to recommendation of another vaccine. As another example, Ms. Hatcher recently concluded a successful defense of a consumer products company on two separate matters: (1) a US EPA enforcement matter arising from the company’s importation of products containing prohibited ozone depleting substances and (2) a threatened citizen’s suit by a national environmental group for the company’s failure to submit TSCA 8(e) risk reports for data that resulted in the company’s decision to recall various lead-containing children’s products.
- Chemicals Legislation Faces New Reforms in the UK, Europe, and US post Brexit, Latham London blog
- After Years of Failure, The Toxic Substances Control Act Is Finally Amended, ALM Corporate Counsel, June 8, 2016
- Co-author, TSCA Deskbook (2nd edition), Environmental Law Institute