The DOJ has launched an investigation into Abbott over contaminated baby formula that killed two infants. And, cities in Puerto Rico have filed a major racketeering lawsuit against fossil fuel companies for covering up the dangers of climate change. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss more.


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

Mike Papantonio: The DOJ was launched, they, they’ve launched this investigation into Abbott over contaminated baby formula that killed two infants. But this story’s much bigger than that. It’s also the NEC story that you’ve covered. You did a story on NEC. Matter of fact, my daughter in this law firm is handling that case. It’s a huge case against Abbott. Let’s talk about this one.

Farron Cousins: Yeah. Right now, and it’s, you know, 12 months after the fact, the DOJ finally says, okay, we’re gonna look into what happened. But last February, of course, we had Abbott industries pull their baby formula off the market after two infants died after ingesting it because it was contaminated with bacteria.

Mike Papantonio: Mm-hmm.

Farron Cousins: And a year before those deaths happened, you had a whistleblower at the company come forward and say, there is bacteria all over this. These are unsafe conditions. We’re putting out a dangerous product. So 24 months after the whistleblower came forward, our DOJ finally says, all right, I guess we gotta do something here. And they’ll do nothing in the end.

Mike Papantonio: Well, yeah. It’s, it’s the same story. I, I sometimes I get tired of talking about how dysfunctional the DOJ is. It’s just a joke. It’s just like the regulatory SEC, it’s just like the reg. I mean, go, go watch the Bernie Maddow, this last movie they made on Bernie Maddow to understand how dysfunctional these folks that we believe are looking over everybody’s shoulder and doing the right thing. It, the SEC, you may as well not even have it. FDA, it’s a joke. EPA, my God. Really? What it’s become. So this is one of those stories where all this is avoidable, wasn’t it?

Farron Cousins: It, it really was. And here’s the thing too, and this is, I kind of, I’m, you know, gonna give you a hell of a lot of praise here and, and all the other attorneys, the DOJ will look at the same cases you look at, and the DOJ will say, oh, well, uh, we’re not gonna end up doing anything about this. We don’t really think there was anything super bad with it. They’ve learned their lesson, whatever it is. But then you can go to court, you’ll beat the hell out of these people and you’ll win hundreds of millions.

Mike Papantonio: And then they’ll do something, maybe.

Farron Cousins: Yeah. But it takes you, it takes these other lawyers from across the country to actually hold these people accountable for the DOJ to finally say, okay, I guess we have to, because now we look like idiots.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah.

Farron Cousins: Because all these other great lawyers were able to hold these people accountable.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. I think what it is, is the DOJ has a tendency to go after low hanging fruit. If it’s not easy, they’re not gonna do it. The other part of this story, maybe they’ll take this more seriously, is that the Abbott and some other folks that make baby formula understand that you cannot give preemie babies cow’s milk. Because what, what it’ll do is has, it will, it can shut down their entire gastrointestinal system. It dries it up.

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: To where it’s like paper and these kids die. And these cases are so bad, as we’ve talked about on another show, is that the nurses who are working in these pediatric settings with preemies, they end up quitting because they can’t stand to, to hear the cries and the suffering of these children.

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: It’s, it’s so excruciating. It’s such excruciating pain they almost have to put ’em into a coma.

Farron Cousins: Yeah. And, and, and it is, it is a painful death that takes a long time to happen. These nurses are emerging almost with PTSD.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah.

Farron Cousins: From their experience with these infants who they’re watching die and they can do nothing about it. And it, it, you know, based on what we know, it, it sure as hell looks like these companies knew.

Mike Papantonio: Oh, they did.

Farron Cousins: This was happening.

Mike Papantonio: There’s zero, Farron, there’s zero questions. The documents are always coming, they knew. They had every reason, the literature showed them. Epidemiology showed them. Their in-house documents show it. They had every reason to know it. But what they were doing is they were trying to build brand loyalties, crazy, crazy angle. But they understood that if you can build brand loyalty with a formula at a very young age, that that goes on for about six or seven years.

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: With, with the, with the baby foods that you sell. And that’s what this was about. So they were telling these nurses, yeah, give them this stuff. The nurses saying, you know, I don’t, I don’t want to. And the doctors were ordering them to do it.

Farron Cousins: Yeah. They’d make the deals with the hospitals to pretty much be the exclusive.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. To buy exclusive in big, in big amounts. So this Abbott story, we’re, we’re gonna be, we’re, we’re going after Abbott in a really big way. More on the NEC story.

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: With, it’s an awful story.

Mike Papantonio: Cities in Puerto Rico have filed a major racketeering lawsuit against fossil fuel companies for covering up the dangers of climate change. Well, there’s been several attempts to make this happen. Right? And none of them have been successful so far. I think it’s, it’s, you know, basically you’re batting zero, which is a shame because there’s some really, really good material. It’s worth it to read the lawsuit and understand how much these companies, Exxon, for example, that they absolutely knew 50 years ago what was coming. Right?

Farron Cousins: Yeah, absolutely. You know, the documents go back to definitely the seventies. There’s actually a couple from the fifties where they said, wait a minute now we think this is messing up. There’s newspaper reports from the 1910s, I think 1918, where, hey, the burning of coal seems to be changing the climate. So over a hundred years ago, even the media was still talking about climate change. But either way, the documents in these companies, you know, they’re all colluding together, basically. We’re gonna pool our money. We’re gonna fund this think tank. We’re gonna create a think tank here. And we’re gonna tell people that climate change is just the weather changing every day.

Mike Papantonio: Right.

Farron Cousins: And, and, and basically, cast doubt on the whole thing.

Mike Papantonio: Well, you saw the documents. Actually, I, I saw where you actually did show after show where this isn’t me talking.

Farron Cousins: Right.

Mike Papantonio: Let me show you the documents.

Farron Cousins: We’ve seen the documents.

Mike Papantonio: This is where they wrote that. This is how we take the scare out of climate change. Those were the documents.

Farron Cousins: Right. And, and paying off the scientists, which Exxon did.

Mike Papantonio: Key, what they call key opinion leaders. Talk about it.

Farron Cousins: Yeah. They would offer, and there’s even a database now where they can go and just find a list of who can sign their name on what. But they would offer scientists tens of thousands of dollars. They had the report already written saying, climate change is fake, oil is great. Just saying, hey scientists, you’re reputable. Put your signature on this. We’ll give you $25,000. And they did it.

Mike Papantonio: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Duke, you name it. There was always some blood sucking bottom feeder scientist or doctor, or whatever, that was willing to say, yeah, I’ll sign off on that. They didn’t even write it most of the time. The industry, Exxon would write the, the article. They would say why climate change isn’t real. Doc, you mind, we’re gonna give you $50,000 to sign. No problem. They’d sign off on it.

Farron Cousins: Yeah. And so that’s why this particular lawsuit is different from some of those other ones, because this one’s going after the racketeering angle.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah.

Farron Cousins: So that could be something that maybe gives a little oomph. But at the end of the day, the liability for it, you just can’t hit that standard, unfortunately. You can’t prove that the gasoline I burned that I bought from Exxon.

Mike Papantonio: Causation connection.

Farron Cousins: So it’s just, we know it did, but linking it to the exact companies is near impossible.

Mike Papantonio: Well, there’s market share kinds of arguments. And once a court will go ahead and assume a market share kind of analysis, that is, we know for the last 20 years, Exxon, what your market share was. And we know that all of you had a specific market share. That’s always been the way I’ve approached multiple defendants. Early on this one, I’m calling, probably not gonna make it, but I love to see that these people are trying.

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

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.