Via America’s LawyerMike Papantonio and Trial Lawyer Magazine editor Farron Cousins discuss the ABYSMAL regulation of e-cigarettes. How do we hold both manufacturers as well as mom-and-pop shops accountable for the deaths of over a dozen and the sickening of hundreds linked to vape products? Also, RT correspondent Brigida Santos joins Mike Papantonio to walk us through a lawsuit brought forth by the Massachusetts Attorney General against ExxonMobil, alleging the energy giant has long been aware of its products accelerating climate change, yet chose NOT to disclose relevant studies that might hurt the company’s bottom line.


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

Mike Papantonio:             With more than 500 cases of this mysterious lung illness from vaping, the question over the proposed vaping ban is what’s, where’s that leading us? Where is the vaping ban? And again, every time we do a vaping story, they hate to say this, but I swear to God there is a vaping cult out there as this, it’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. When we talk about vaping, even though we talk about it’s, you know, you got, you got problems with THC, you got problems with E acetate, you’ve got all, you got problems with heavy metals, you got problems with…

Farron Cousins:                  Pesticides.

Mike Papantonio:             Pesticides.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             And it, when you talk about it, this cult mentality says, oh, we can’t talk about that because it’s safer than tobacco. Okay, let’s say it’s safer than tobacco. 500,000 people die every year because of tobacco. It doesn’t move me to say it’s a little bit safer. What’s your take?

Farron Cousins:                  I think the vaping ban is a bad idea and we look, we know, you know, I know everybody knows that, yes, the vaping companies are marketing these flavored products that they’re trying to ban. They’re marketing them to children. There is no question about that and something should be done about that, but outright banning these things is an absolutely bad move. It’s addressing a problem that’s not related to the actual problem. The problem is you have hundreds of people getting ill. We don’t know why. Nine people are dead.

Mike Papantonio:             And we don’t know. We don’t know why.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             That’s the point.

Farron Cousins:                  Because there’s no regulations. That’s the problem. There’s no regulations in this industry whatsoever. We don’t know what people are putting in here. The FDA does not have any kind of set standards as to what can go in a vape. Not to mention the little vape shops that pop up on the corners, they’re putting, God knows what in there because nobody’s looking over their shoulders.

Mike Papantonio:             Is this just another FDA disaster?

Farron Cousins:                  Absolutely.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. We got, you got an, you’ve got an organization that is completely dysfunctional. If you believe the FDA is there to protect you, you are in la la land. So the FDA watches this develop. Even in the early times, people are saying, look, there’s no regulations. People can put whatever they want in here. They can have whatever device they want to deliver it. It can be something that’s leeching lead into the human body, leaching pesticides into the human body. It’s releasing E acetate in the human body.

All these things. Now I’m not suggesting, you know, we handled the tobacco litigation and the, we, we launched that case right at this law firm years ago and we saw all the documents and I can tell you this stuff that’s in tobacco is a lot worse than this. No question about it. But don’t you get to the point where you want to say, look, yeah, we get that it’s a way for people to stop smoking, but we have to at least objectively talk about it. And the FDA has to regulate these mom and pop organizations that are making the delivery system, the pen.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             They need to regulate every part of it.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, and people need to understand too, anytime you’re inhaling something into your lungs, don’t you want know what’s in that? I mean, rather than take some guy behind the counter, his word for it that, oh, no, no, no. I’ve just mixed up this fresh batch of it. No, that that’s what people are getting sick from. That’s why this all happens suddenly. That’s why people are dying. There’s obviously a bad batch of something out there in this country killing people.

Mike Papantonio:             Let, let me tell you where this case goes. This is my prediction. In a couple of weeks we’ll be in Las Vegas where we have our meeting of lawyers that handle complex cases and what we’ll be talking about is this isn’t a case that can be solved in one federal court. Okay. May be brought in one federal court, but there’s so many, there’s so many avenues to go after these companies. Take for example the, the pen itself, it’s got all these component parts. Each one of those component parts are made in different States. You have so many components to it that you can, you can almost pick where you want to bring the case.

And so because of that you’re going to have these companies that are mom and pop organizations, basically, hugely under financed that are going to go under. Even the big companies are going to go under. And what we’re going to find is when all the smoke clears, we’re going to see most of this was financed by big tobacco. So we’ve come a full circle, haven’t we?

Farron Cousins:                  Absolutely.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. Thanks for joining me.

Farron Cousins:                  Thank you.

Mike Papantonio:             The fight to hold the world’s largest polluters accountable is getting more sophisticated. The attorney general of Massachusetts filed a lawsuit against ExxonMobil for violating the state’s consumer investor protection laws by not disclosing the risks of climate change. RT’s Brigida Santos joins me now to, more on that story. It’s a crazy story. Brigida, what can you tell me about this lawsuit to begin with? It’s been common a long time. The, the Massachusetts attorney general is probably one of the most courageous attorney generals we have in this country. Most of them are just useless as far as actually any kind of cultural or social engineering. This woman is far different. What’s your take?

Brigida Santos:                   Yeah, she’s incredible. When you read the text of this lawsuit, it is, it is just astounding. Now, attorney general Maura Healey from Massachusetts, basically outlined the entire case. Now the court documents reveal that for decades, ExxonMobil has intentionally misled state investors about and consumers about climate change to increase its short term profits, stock price, and access to capital. Now the company reportedly withheld information from investors that could have affected decisions about purchasing, selling, and holding ExxonMobil securities. Exxon of course is the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas company. So this is a very important case to keep our eyes on.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay, so all the way back to the 50s the, Exxon’s own experts were telling the company that this is bad and the company ignored it. Instead what the company did is ignored the experts that were working in house that were telling them, yes, green, the climate change is real. Yes, we’re part of the cause with fossil fuels and yes, we may be on a course that if we don’t interrupt right now, might be irreversible. Their own scientists were telling them that as early as the 1950s. Then the, then they go out and hire biostitutes to say what they want them to say. Give me your, give me your understanding of that please.

Brigida Santos:                   Yes. Let’s run through some of the evidence here now. Since the late 1970s Exxon scientists and management reportedly knew that Exxon’s oil products were the leading cause of climate change and that if nothing was done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, climate change would have potentially catastrophic impacts on the global environment and a substantial fraction of the Earth’s population. 37 years ago, Exxon scientists even predicted that in 2019 carbon dioxide levels would reach 415 parts per million, and that average temperatures would increase by 1.15 degrees as a result, and my God, they were right.

In may of 2019 this year, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere not only reached 415 parts per million, but they surpassed that level reaching the highest point in human history. And the company also confirmed there was a general scientific agreement that humans influence the climate through carbon dioxide released from burning fossil fuels. And that dramatic changes in global energy use may be necessary to prevent significant climate change, including the use of its own products.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, what they did is they, they had shareholders as early as 20 years ago that were saying, look, we’re very fearful that all this money we have invested in Exxon can go bad when all the lawsuits begin. When we have catastrophic climate changes along the coast. When we have insurance policies that will never pay for the damage that’s done, we’re going to be the next target. Their shareholders were telling them that and what the company then did, they went out and they hired scientists that would sign off on documents that were actually written by Exxon. Exxon would write the story. The scientist, they’d pay the scientist $1 million and they’d sign off and say, climate change is not real. That’s where we are right now. We know Exxon knew and that it didn’t take action to sharply reduce fossil fuel, and now we’re living with that, aren’t we?

Brigida Santos:                   Yeah, and look, they had a multimillion dollar consumer deception campaign that’s been in full swing since the 1980s. The goal is to strategically magnify uncertainty in climate science to curb fossil fuel reduction efforts. Now that campaign included publicly contradicting Exxon’s own climate scientists and tricking the public into believing that the role of greenhouse gas in climate change is not understood, even though it is. Exxon also funds front groups to publicly attack climate science and lobbies heavily to influence energy rules and regulations. And it may soon even be rewarded a new government contract because president Trump recently said he wants to make a deal with ExxonMobil to tap Syria’s oil reserves. So this is a very powerful company.

It’s not a victimless crime. All the people out there who do not believe that humans play a role in climate change are the victims of it. Not to mention all the people who have had their houses destroyed due to fires, you know, that are increasing, especially in California due to climate change. The list goes on.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, let me just tell you, this attorney general Maura Healey is she, she’s the leader in, in in cases that we should be interested in. Here’s what she knows. She has watched cases being brought in federal court throughout the country. Federal judges rather than being, whether it being hands on are always saying, well, we can’t really do anything. This is too big for the courts. We have to worry about congressional, we have to wait for congressional mandate to do something about this. And the truth is, Maura Healey has said, no, you know what? I’m through listening to that up here in New Hampshire, I’m going to do something as an attorney general.

Because the judges, the federal judges that time after time have, have, have dismissed these cases where I, I’ve read the pleadings there, there, there were a hundred ways to keep these cases in court, but the, the, the, the mantra from these federal court judges is no, we have to wait for Congress to do something. She saying, no, we don’t have to wait for Congress to do something. We’re going to bring this in state court up here. We’re going to get judges that aren’t so tied down to these notions that their hands are tied. Brigida, thank you for joining me. Okay.

Brigida Santos:                   Anytime, Mike.

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.