About Melissa

Melissa Jones is a trial lawyer who provides experienced and practical counsel in complex business disputes, appellate matters and internal investigations. She has represented clients from a broad range of industries in complex civil litigation matters in both state and federal court, including the agribusiness, and oil and gas industries. Her practice includes an emphasis on Proposition 65 defense as well. Additionally, Melissa has held various leadership roles at the firm. She is the Firm Managing Partner and serves on the firm’s Executive Committee. Melissa is a former office managing partner for the firm’s three California offices and also recently served as the chair of the Partner Compensation Committee.

Melissa’s experience includes litigating claims for breach of contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, misappropriation of trade secrets, products liability, false advertising and unfair competition. She has worked on internal investigations for both publicly traded and private companies on complex compliance and accounting issues and has represented companies in government enforcement actions, including matters involving the California Attorney General’s office and the Air Resources Board.

Melissa regularly defends companies in litigation claims related to California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Proposition 65) and Unfair Competition Law (17200) and advises companies on Prop 65 compliance. She leads the Firm’s Prop 65 defense and compliance team. Her Prop 65 clients range from large retailers to vendors and manufacturers, in industries including apparel, footwear, handbags, eyewear, fitness products, children’s products, furniture, electronics, hobby and crafts, automotive, personal care products and accessories, food and dietary supplements and natural foods. She has defended Prop 65 actions and advised clients in matters regarding listed chemicals including lead, Bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates (BBP, DBP, DINP, DIDP, and DEHP), carbon monoxide, cadmium, 4-MEI, crystalline silica, acrylamide, arsenic, tris phosphate (TDCPP, TCEP), Diethanolamine and Cocomide-DEA. She also advises clients on other California regulations.

Before joining Stoel Rives, Melissa was a litigation partner at Morrison & Foerster LLP, where she worked for 10 years. After law school, she clerked for the Honorable Harry Pregerson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

She has been an active member of the legal community, serving as President to the Sacramento Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, as a Lawyer Representative to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, the Chair of the Eastern District Conference, a Board Member for Women Lawyers of Sacramento, and as a member of the Eastern District’s Judicial Advisory Committee.

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Complex Commercial Litigation, Class Action and Appellate Experience

  • Obtained favorable resolution for food manufacturer in federal class action involving unfair competition (UCL) and CLRA claims regarding “All Natural” labeling.
  • Obtained summary judgment in California state court for large agribusiness company in complex products liability action.
  • Obtained dismissal in federal court for international supplier of cell culture products on jurisdictional grounds.
  • Successfully defended large agricultural cooperative in federal class action involving false advertising, UCL and CLRA claims; motion to transfer granted (see 2014 WL 4063002 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 14, 2014) and motion to dismiss granted. See 2014 WL 5599989 (W.D. Wash. Nov. 3, 2014).
  • Representing large agribusiness cooperative in business dispute involving breach of contract claims in federal court; matter ongoing.
  • Representing manufacturer in business dispute with supplier in litigation involving UCL, fraud, and intentional interference claims; matter ongoing.
  • Defended Fortune 500 bank holding company in consumer class action involving allegation that defendant’s credit card member agreements violate California consumer protection statutes, including the Unfair Competition Law (§ 17200); motion to dismiss granted. See 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17113; 2008 WL 648177 (N.D. Cal. 2008).
  • Represented large nonprofit organization in action against California state agency in federal court and obtained preliminary injunction based on Supremacy Clause claims.
  • Defended international accounting firm in fraud, professional malpractice and breach of contract action in San Francisco Superior Court; case settled on favorable terms on the eve of trial.
  • Defended corporate executive in Sacramento Superior Court in matter involving claims of breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, negligence and breach of contract relating to partnership dispute; resolved through mediation on favorable terms.
  • Defended Fortune 500 insurance company in cases throughout the U.S. alleging fraud, breach of contract and unfair competition (including § 17200 claims) regarding 412(i) defined benefits plans; cases resolved successfully through settlements and dismissals.
  • Represented software developer in contract dispute with importer/distributor; settled on favorable terms on eve of arbitration.
  • Defended Board member and Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in fraud and breach of contract action against the Oakland Raiders in five-month jury trial and subsequent appeal; verdict and appeal resulted in total victory for both clients. See OACC, Inc. v. Oakland Raiders, 144 Cal. App. 4th 1175 (2006).
  • Represented e-discovery software provider in contract dispute with client; settled on favorable terms after mediation.
  • Defended Fortune 500 company in employment litigation matters including claims of sexual harassment, failure to accommodate disability and wrongful termination; successfully resolved via settlement after filing motion for summary judgment.
  • Argued three pro bono matters before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, including matter creating new law on the imminent danger exception. See, e.g., Andrews v. Cervantes, 493 F.3d 1047 (9th Cir. 2007); Huftile v. Miccio-Fonseca, 410 F.3d 1136 (9th Cir. 2005).

Proposition 65 Defense and Compliance

  • Defended large and small companies regarding alleged Prop 65 violations concerning: food, spices, nutritional and dietary supplements, juice, coffee, handbags, apparel, footwear, belts, personal care products, exercise equipment, sporting goods, tools, eyewear and sunglasses, hair-care items and accessories, luggage and travel goods, cell phone accessories, steering wheel covers and automotive accessories, children’s clothing, mattress and foam pads, car-seats, furniture, footwear and costumes, and hobby and craft items.
  • Regularly assists companies with Prop 65 advice and compliance issues, including development of testing protocol and comprehensive product safety compliance programs.

Internal Investigations, Government Enforcement Proceedings and Federal Criminal Defense

  • Defended fueling systems manufacturer at trial against California’s Air Resources Board (“CARB”) and South Coast Air Quality Management District in Los Angeles Superior Court in which plaintiffs sought $25 million in penalties and fees; obtained complete defense verdict after trial.
  • Successfully obtained dismissal of action for Fortune 100 oil and gas company and co-defendants in $80 million breach of contract and fraud action filed by the California Attorney General’s Office in Sacramento Superior Court.
  • Represented cardiologist in defense of high-profile federal fraud investigation. Government declined to prosecute after years of pre-indictment advocacy.
  • Defended large food manufacturer in enforcement action in California concerning alleged nonfunctional slack fill in packaging; obtained a favorable settlement.
  • Defended Col. Youa True Vang in federal prosecution involving allegations that Col. Vang and other defendants attempted to overthrow the government of Laos, as well as related weapons charges; government ultimately dismissed all charges against all defendants.
  • Defended former CEO of publicly traded company in criminal matter involving allegations of narcotics use and distribution; government declined prosecution.
  • Conducted internal investigation for Audit Committee of publicly traded company in first case involving stock options backdating allegations.
  • Conducted internal investigation for Audit Committee of publicly traded company in action involving allegations of accounting fraud.
  • Conducted internal investigation for large trade association regarding allegations of conflict of interest and fraud by executive.
  • Provided pre-indictment advocacy for executive of pharmaceutical company accused of off-label marketing.
  • Conducted multiple internal investigations for university system regarding alleged violations of university policies and state and federal laws.
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Honors & Activities

  • Selected by the Sacramento Business Journal as one of its “Women Who Mean Business,” 2020
  • Selected by the Sacramento Business Journal as “Best of the Bar,” 2014–2019
  • Selected by the Sacramento Business Journal as a “40 Under 40” leader, 2012
  • Listed in Sacramento Magazine’s Top Lawyers, 2016–2019
  • Selected by the Los Angeles Daily Journal and San Francisco Daily Journal as one of the “Top 100 Women Lawyers” in California, 2011
  • Listed among Northern California Super Lawyers® (Business Litigation, Environmental Litigation, General Litigation), 2014–2021
  • Listed in Northern California Super Lawyers® in Top 50 Women Lawyers, 2016–2017, 2019–2020
  • Listed in Northern California Super Lawyers® in Top 25 Sacramento Lawyers, 2016–2017, 2019–2021
  • Listed among Rising Stars (Business Litigation, General Litigation, Environmental Litigation), Northern California Super Lawyers®, 2009–2013
  • Selected, “Bar Register of Women Lawyers,” Martindale-Hubbell® Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers, 2011
  • Wiley W. Manuel California State Bar award for pro bono service, 2005, 2007–2009
  • Board Member, U.C. Davis Law School Alumni Board of Directors, 2011–2017
  • Co-Chair, Sacramento Region Innovation Awards, 2016–2018 
  • Federal Bar Association, Sacramento Chapter: President, 2011; Vice President/President Elect, 2010; Secretary, 2009; Programs Co-Chair, 2008; Programs Committee, 2007; Member, 2007–present
  • Ninth Circuit Lawyer Representative, 2007–2010
  • Ninth Circuit Lawyer Representative Coordinating Committee, 2008–2010
  • Co-Chair, Planning Committee for the Eastern District Conference, 2009–2010
  • Member, Judicial Advisory Committee for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, 2009–2011
  • Board Member and Co-Chair, Women Lawyers of Sacramento, Career Advancement and Retention Committee, 2012–2013; Vice Chair, Career Advancement and Retention Committee, 2014 
  • Advisory Board, Prop 65 Clearinghouse, 2011
  • Open Doors to the Federal Courts, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California: Organizer, 2009–2010; Volunteer, 2008
  • Member, American Bar Association, Women Rainmakers Committee
  • Sacramento County Bar Association: Affiliate Board Member, 2010; Member, Appellate Section, 2008–present
  • Instructor, Appellate Advocacy, McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific, 2004–2005
  • Barrister, Milton L. Schwartz Inn of Court, 2001–2004
  • Coach, Jessup International Moot Court Team, U.C. Davis School of Law, 2001–2003
  • Rated, Martindale-Hubbell® 4.7 out of 5* for Litigation
  • National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) Outstanding Law Student Award, 1999
  • Wall Street Journal Achievement Award, Business Law, 1999
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Insights & Presentations

Insights & Presentations

  • Prop 65 Changes Coming That Could Cause Headaches For Businesses,” Stoel Rives Legal Alert, April 14, 2021
  • What Your Company Needs to Know About Social Media Influencers” (co-authored with Bao Vu), The Legal Intelligencer, Aug. 29, 2019
  • Key Changes for California’s Proposition 65 Effective August 30, 2018,” Stoel Rives Legal Alert, June 29, 2018
  • “New Prop 65 Warning Label Requirements Take Effect This August – Is Your Company Ready?,” Footwear Retailers and Distributors of America, Webinar, June 28, 2018
  • “What You Need to Know About California’s Proposition 65,” 2017 RVCF Annual Fall Conference, Phoenix, Arizona, Nov. 6, 2017
  • “Navigating the Complex Patchwork of State Chemical Safety Laws: Proposition 65,” Footwear Innovation, Trade & Compliance in the Age of Enforcement, Long Beach, California, Oct. 24, 2017
  • “Environmental Hazard Compliance in Sale of Goods: California’s Prop 65 and Safer Consumer Products Act,” Strafford Webinar, Jan. 19, 2016
  • “Air & Toxics: Forthcoming Changes and Developments Impacting Environmental Law in California,” Los Angeles County Bar Association, 14th Annual Environmental Law Fall Symposium, Los Angeles, California, Nov. 6, 2015
  • Power To The Plaintiffs in Prop 65 Proposals,” Law360, Sept. 11, 2015
  • “The Essential Elements of Internal Investigations,” California Construction and Industrial Materials Association, 2014 Annual Education Conference, San Diego, California, Nov. 4, 2014
  • Moderator, “Supply Chain Transformation in Response to Chemicals & Safer Products Regulations,” 5th Safer Consumer Products Summit, San Francisco, California, Oct. 24, 2014
  • “Product Safety Regulatory Tour,” Footwear Traffic and Distribution Customs Conference, Long Beach, California, Oct. 20, 2014
  • “Prop. 65 Update,” Tenth Annual Nutritional Law Symposium, Utah, Sept. 12, 2014
  • “Product Safety Regulatory Tour: New Laws, Trends, and Updates,” FDRA Product Safety & Environment Workshop, Seattle, Washington, July 17, 2014
  • Panelist, “Complying with California’s Safer Consumer Products Regulations—Immediate Changes,” Safer Consumer Products Summit, Santa Clara, California, May 7, 2014
  • “Product Safety Regulatory World Tour,” FDRA Product Safety & Environment Workshop, Boston, Massachusetts, April 10, 2014
  • “Legislation and Rulemaking of Food and Beverages: Lots of Noise but Slow Progress,” Challenges Facing the Food and Beverage Industries in Complex Consumer Litigations, Perrin Conferences, Chicago, Illinois, April 8, 2014
  • “What Natural Products Manufacturers Need to Know About Proposition 65,” March 8, 2014, Anaheim, California
  • Getting Ready for SB 4: California’s New Well Stimulation Permitting LawDisclosures and Trade Secrets,” Stoel Rives Seminar, Bakersfield, California, Dec. 11 2013
  • “ ‘All Natural’ Label Making in California: Are You a Class Action Target?” Stoel Rives Business Advisory, Nov. 14, 2013
  • “California’s Proposition 65 and Green Chemistry: Reform Efforts, Litigation Trends and Regulatory Update,” Footwear Traffic and Distribution Conference, Long Beach, California, Oct. 21, 2013
  • “Ethical Issues in Multi-Party Litigation,” Sacramento Chapter-Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), Sept. 19, 2013
  • Quoted in “Will Prop 65 Proposed Reforms Benefit Foods, Supplements?” Natural Products Insider, May 9, 2013
  • Quoted in “Companies Face Wave of Lawsuits Over Flame Retardants in Products; lawyers say companies failed to warn public about Tris,” S.F. Daily Journal, Feb. 13, 2013
  • “Working with Outside Counsel to Save Time and Money on Litigation Case Management,” Sacramento Chapter-Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), Nov. 15, 2012
  • “Don’t Get Caught California Dreaming: The Proposition 65 Trap,” Stoel Rives Webinar, Oct. 10, 2012
  • “Hanging Tough in California: The Future of Prop 65 Defenses, Challenges and Compliance,” Eighth Annual Nutritional Law Symposium, Utah, Sept. 14, 2012
  • “Proposition 65,” The Law of Outdoor Industries: A Guide to Business and Legal Issues, Stoel Rives LLP (2d ed. 2012)
  • California’s Proposition 65 Applies to All Food Processors,” FoodProcessing.com, April 9, 2012  
  • “FSMA and Proposition 65 Litigation Issues,” GMA 2012 Food Claims and Litigation Conference: Navigating Change in Food-Related Litigation, Dana Point, Feb. 22, 2012
  • “‘All Natural’ Class Action Litigation in California—Trend Will Continue in 2012,” co-author, Guide to U.S. Food Labeling Law, Feb. 2012
  • “Labels Matter in Calif. ‘All Natural’ Claims,” Law 360, Jan. 24, 2012
  • ‘All Natural’ Class Action Litigation in California: What’s in Store for 2012?Legal Alert, Dec. 20, 2011
  • Quoted in “Roasting in California: Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee Fans Can’t Order Online,” TechNewsWorld, Oct. 21, 2011
  • Quoted in “What to Consider When Labeling Products for California Proposition 65,” Industrial Safety & Hygiene News (www.ishn.com), Aug. 17, 2011
  • “OEHHA Identifies 39 New Chemicals for Evaluation Under Proposition 65,” Legal Alert, July 2011
  • “Product Safety Briefing: Update on Proposition 65,” Craft & Hobby Association Webinar, May 18, 2011
  • Quoted in “Lawyer: Tidal Wave of Proposition 65 Claims Should Serve as ‘Wake up Call’ to Industry,” Nutraingredients-usa.com, April 15, 2011
  • “Product Safety Briefing: Update on Proposition 65,” Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America’s Annual Product Safety & Environment Workshop, Washington, D.C., April 12, 2011
  • “Latest Opt-in Opportunity for Proposition 65 in California: Lead in Fashion Accessories,” Legal Alert, March 11, 2011
  • “25 Years of Proposition 65: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going?” Consumer Product Safety: What’s Around the Next Curve?, New York, March 9, 2011
  • “Proposition 65,” Navigating New Requirements: Consumer Product Safety and Customs Requirements, Los Angeles Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association, Long Beach, Nov. 16, 2010
  • Quoted in “Industry Seeks Sharp Uptick in Prop 65 Notices, AHPA Warns,” NutritionalOutlook.com, Nov. 11, 2010
  • “Living with Proposition 65: Preventative Measures & Defending Against a 60-Day Notice,” co-presenter, American Herbal Products Association Webinar, Oct. 18, 2010
  • “Proposition 65 and the Footwear Industry: Protect Your Company,” Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, Portland, Oct. 5, 2010
  • “Available Opt-in for Proposition 65 Settlement in California: DEHP in Adult Fashion Accessories,” Legal Alert, Sept. 29, 2010
  • “Prop 65 – You Thought This Only Involved the CPSC and Customs?” Navigating New Requirements: Consumer Product Safety and Customs Requirements, San Diego Customs Broker Association, San Diego, Sept. 24, 2010
  • “Prop 65 – You Thought This Only Involved the CPSC and Customs?” Navigating New Requirements: Consumer Product Safety and Customs Requirements, Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of Northern California, San Francisco, Sept. 23, 2010
  • “Prop 65 – You Thought This Only Involved the CPSC and Customs?” Navigating New Requirements: Consumer Product Safety and Customs Requirements, Columbia River Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association, Portland, Sept. 22, 2010
  • “When Is a Proposition 65 Safe Harbor Warning ‘Safe’?’” The Daily Journal, Aug. 31, 2010
  • “The Qualcomm Decision – Understanding E-Discovery Obligations,” Moderator, Sutter Club, Sacramento, April 3, 2008
  • “The Ins and Outs of Internal Investigations,” The Daily Recorder, May 10, 2007
  • “Contract Litigation from A to Z in California,” Lorman Education Services, Sacramento, June 28, 2006

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