DuPont has been poisoning the Ohio River Valley with C8; a chemical used in the manufacturing of Teflon. Ring of Fire’s Mike Papantonio and Cenk Uygur, of The Young Turks, discuss this issue.

Learn more about The Devil We Know.

Transcript:

*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Cenk Uygur:
Uh, but there’s two things I want to talk to you about, Pap, but first one is that you’re featured in a movie, it’s called The Devil We Know and it’s about a case that you brought and part of why probably other lawyers see you in the way that, that I just described. You’ve got a $670 million settlement out of DuPont. What was it for? What have they done wrong?

Mike Papantonio:
DuPont had poisoned the drinking water of 70,000 people, Cenk. They knew that they had been doing it for 50 years and they poisoned it with something called C8, which is a carcinogen, but also causes a whole host of neurological diseases. It causes birth defects, and I think the reason that the case was difficult in so many ways because DuPont had such a strong control over the regulatory agencies all up and down the Ohio River Valley. They had control of the politics all up and down the Ohio River Valley. But a young lawyer came to me with a project he had worked on for about 10 years and had no success, and they asked, would I try the case and see how a jury reacts; and the jury did not react at all well for DuPont and they figured they had to close it out.

Actually the total was a 675 plus about another $300 million over a period of years. So what we’re able to do, we were able to fix the drinking water problem. It doesn’t fix the problem overall. C8 is going to be in that environment, unfortunately, for 1 million years. That’s how long C8 stays in the environment. It’s bio-accumulative every time you’re exposed to it, more builds up in your system, but it was the mentality of DuPont that is let’s make a big profit.

They hid the information from the public, knowingly hid it. They kept a big secret. This movie that you’re talking about, which has been done by some very capable, really talented documentary people who’ve won a couple of Oscars for other documentaries they’ve done, and I guess I was so impressed with their ability to take a very complicated issue and make it into a really entertaining movie called, The Devil We Know.

Cenk Uygur:
Yeah. And if you’re watching this later on, YouTube or Facebook we’ll have the link to the trailer for the movie. It’s incredibly well done. So you can check it out for yourself, but I actually want to ask you a couple more questions about that, Pap, because Mike McCabe, who was a former deputy administrator at the EPA, says something that I’ve found to be even more troubling because it’s one thing, new case against DuPont and I think that trial lawyers, often times, get a bad rap in the country and it’s not an accident, a lot of corporate propaganda to get behind that effort.

And, and because trial lawyers or one of the few folks who hold corporations accountable, but McCabe was saying, unfortunately the EPA often times does not. How does the EPA sometimes help companies like DuPont fast track things that they shouldn’t, that aren’t safe?

Mike Papantonio:
Well, what happens, Cenk, is it’s called corporate capture and the way that works, you see with the FDA, you see with SEC, you see with the EPA have virtually all of the regulatory agencies typically, and it happened in DuPont. It happened in the opioid case I’m working on right now, but what ends up happening is the industry goes to somebody who’s making $100,000 there in mid-level management and they say, we know that you’re working on this project. We know you’re looking at regulating us and we don’t want to interfere with that. But, oh, by the way, you know, when we get done with this, let’s talk about a job with us and then they throw the number of $300,000 out, and unfortunately the system allows them to do that. And so it’s total corporate capture.

Mike Papantonio:
These regulators, you know, they’re human. They’re there saying, look, I’m making 100,000. This company talking to me about $300,000, and so all of a sudden, that regulation that should be protecting consumers ends up protecting the corporation and it’s a very common process, and the way they beef that up, Cenk, is they’ll go to what we call biostitutes. The corporation hires biostitutes in various places around maybe Harvard or Yale, and they’ll hire a scientist that will say anything for the right amount of money. That scientist is then hooked up with that regulator, and they have this relationship where the scientists gives the regulator cover. So that’s a process is very common. It’s not just in environmental cases. We see it in pharmaceutical cases. We see it in regulatory of the SEC. We see it really, really often these days, more so than we saw 10 years ago.

Cenk Uygur:
So it took me a minute to figure out what biostitute was when I was like, oh, I get it. A combination of things. So one more thing about this because you got me nervous about Teflon. So should we not be using those Teflon pans?

Mike Papantonio:
You should not. Well, here’s the problem. C8 is actually used to make Teflon and the company says, well, there’s no off gassing, but the pans that they test typically are older pans where the off gassing from C8, a new pan, for example, will certainly, there’ll be off gas of the C8 with a new pan.

I don’t see any reason to use Teflon. It was a great sales mechanism. It sounded good, but it’s no better than oil in a pan, olive oil or butter or whatever. It’s the safer thing to do and we don’t use it. I mean, we cleaned out our are Teflon pans once we got this information, once I started looking at the scientist talking to the scientists who had worked on this project, it kind of scared the bejesus out of me, but they’ve done such a great job holding back the criticism of Teflon. It’s kind of a one-step-at-a-time. I had to, first of all, talk about C8, the floor carbon C8, and I had to make inroads to show the medical causation between C8 and human injury, and now the next step will be to take a closer look at a have some have some better epidemiology on the relationship of just the Teflon pan.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.