SlimeGate 2/7: Predatorts 2.1/4: The Glyphosate Extortion Racket

This is a story of deceit. I will show how a collection of US tort law firms knew that glyphosate was not a carcinogen, but given how hard it would be to win cases on synergistic effects from multiple chemicals made by different companies, they chose to spread the Big Lie that glyphosate, pure and simple, caused cancer. When lawyer Timothy Litzenburg started to challenge this Big Lie publicly, he had to be stopped. This is not a defence of Tim’s outrageous extortionary actions (like most Predatorts, he deserves his jail-time), but he is by far the least slimy serpent in the cesspool. This is also a story about how the chemophobic lobbyist, Carey Gillam, cooked her ambitious Christmas goose at far too high of a flame setting.

Those concerned with respect for science and reforming the US tort legal system celebrated the recent arrest of the glyphosate gangster, Timothy Litzenburg. This self-proclaimed “punk-tort” lawyer was hauled before the courts on 17 December 2019 for trying to extort $200 million from an unnamed company (which produces an ingredient found in a popular weedkiller).

Litzenburg’s plan was simple: If the anonymous company didn’t pay him $200 million (as a “consulting fee”), then he would unleash thousands of cancer victim plaintiffs against it (that he colourfully referred to as a “parade of the horribles“). If he got his money, he would “take a dive” arranging it so the company would no longer be bothered by litigation.

Rumour has it (according to US Right to Know’s Carey Gillam who also unethically leaked the name of the company on twitter) that the product of concern is polyethoxylated tallow amine (POEA), an organic farming approved surfactant that is no longer used in most herbicide formulations (although it is still approved for organic farming applications as tallow is found in nature derived from animal fats).

Victims: “Parade of the Horribles” or “Hounds of Hell”?

Earlier in this chapter, I demonstrated how Stephen Tillery had tried to blackmail Syngenta into paying up on atrazine. If not, he threatened to release the “hounds of hell” on the company. In the end Syngenta did settle enough to satisfy Tillery (but his clients got next to squat: 0.005% of the payout). Perhaps that is a more frightening image than a parade of the horribles, but this shows what toxic tort lawyers actually think of their plaintiffs (who should be presumed to be the victims … before the lawyers use them).

This is merely one more example of how far these Predatort hyenas are willing to go to line their pockets of privilege. I feel vindicated in having spent much of the last two years trying to paint a picture of how these low-lifes have undermined science, sustainable farming and public trust in the food chain and the regulatory system. They have bought NGOs and scientists to feed their greed and I hope this arrest marks a turning point in the present glyphobic madness. Litzenburg truly deserves serious jail-time for this, but surely his money will help “fix things”.

But wait … Overlooking Litzenburg’s lizard-like behaviour, maybe Tim was right. Maybe POEA was the cause of the issues and not glyphosate. This would make all cases against glyphosate as a carcinogen moot and academic. All 42,700 cases … gone. Maybe Litzenburg was set up by those more experienced in this slimepit that glyphosate has garnered.

Before we get there, some questions need to be asked.

Unanswered Questions

There are many questions that the recent slew of glyphosate lawsuits raises (if any journalists were actually interested in investigating).

Why only Monsanto?

As of October, 2019, there are reportedly over 42,700 cases alleging cancer (assumedly non-Hodgkin Lymphoma) and all of them are against Bayer (owner of the Monsanto legacy name) and Roundup. The product has been off patent since 2001 and there are at least twelve other glyphosate-based herbicide manufacturers that could be sued. Why only Monsanto?

Why only Glyphosate?

The main Monsanto Papers email that the campaigners at US Right to Know kept pushing into the media was Donna Farmer’s reservations that Monsanto could not say that all of the substances in Roundup were not carcinogenic (they were fairly certain glyphosate was not an issue). In any product there are thousands of chemicals (in the average meal we ingest over 10,000 chemicals) so this is a reasonable reservation. Why has the focus been only on the IARC monograph and glyphosate (if the science there was so weak)?

How Closely are the Tort Law Firms Working Together?

With more than 42,700 cases, you could imagine hundreds of law firms falling over themselves to have their cases heard sooner (before Bayer inevitably settles) and yet if one sees the number of law firms sharing resources on the early cases, it seems there has emerged a sort of “Predatort Glyphosate Complex” working behind the scenes to manage the roll-out, experts and strategy. Many of these firms make up the Roundup Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (in Chapter 2.3 we saw how the first movers take 6% off the top of any settlement) but it is unique to see how closely these firms are working together in laying out the strategy.

Time for a conspiracy theory.

The Glyphosate Gameplan

It would appear that the Roundup Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee includes firms like BaumHedlund, The Miller Group, Weitz & Luxenberg and Andrus Wagstaff. This group provides a place where Monsanto litigation strategies are coordinated. In this case, the “Glyphosate Gameplan” was well delineated and meticulously implemented:

  • Only Monsanto: All litigation cases would focus on the much maligned Monsanto/Bayer brand and its product Roundup;
  • Only glyphosate: It would only focus on the active ingredient, glyphosate, even though following the precedent set in cases like talc, the scientific evidence would never hold up in the appellant process;
  • Concentrate on moral outrage: Focus on public outrage, not on the science; juries will demand blood when they hear how Monsanto/Bayer knew about the cancer risk and tried to cover it up, manipulate regulators and public opinion;
  • Play for a mass out-of-court settlement: As most cases were very weak, the gameplan’s key objective was to flood the legal system with tens of thousands of cases and force Bayer to settle out of court. The law firms would be threatening the existence of Bayer and compelling the company’s shareholders to push for a settlement at any cost.

Now just imagine if some rogue “punk-tort” lawyer were to break away from this coordinated strategy and start a series of cases not on glyphosate but an adjuvant like POEA and not against Bayer/Monsanto but another company. If another substance in the weedkiller, Roundup, were deemed more dangerous and liability claimed against another company than the one which had become the Predatort focus of evil, then the Glyphosate Gameplan and the 42,700 cases would collapse.

So Litzenburg had to be stopped before his actions undermined the Roundup Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee investment. He was deftly set up by a group of law firms with no moral fibre and a willingness to play dirty. They engaged Carey Gillam from the anti-pesticides lobby group, US Right to Know, to smear Litzenburg’s reputation with leaked documents emerging from previous counter-suits.

The story unfolds.

Fair Game

In another SlimeGate article to be released early next week, I will look at how these Predatorts represent merely themselves and treat their plaintiffs (the alleged victims) as mere commodities exchanged (paraded?) in a market of misery. A lot of money has been invested in acquiring assets for the Glyphosate Gameplan, perhaps more than a billion dollars. So Litzenburg’s attempts to go off-playbook by focusing on the health risks of a weedkiller adjuvant would have upended their strategy and seriously affected the expected profits. He became, in Scientology terms, “fair game” and needed to be removed via a ruthless personal onslaught.

After Litzenburg started to float his plans to focus on POEA, his employer, The Miller Firm, had to cut him out. He was fired. The ever eager and reliable “journalist”, Carey Gillam, was called in to publicly disgrace Litzenburg and help The Miller Firm (although the article was published in Gary Ruskin’s name, Carey boasted to me on twitter she had written the article). So in releasing court documents, she painted him as a drug-addicted, irresponsible lawyer who was incoherent and corrupt until he was taken off of the Dwayne Johnson case and shortly after fired by his law firm.

Carey claims Tim was sidelined and not at the trial close or verdict. This photo was taken just after the verdict.

Carey has some problems with the facts in her personal smear. She tried to portray Litzenburg as sidelined during the trial but the key photo of the winning lawyers positions Tim smack in the middle next to the victorious plaintiff, Dwayne Johnson. Drug use, particularly cocaine, is quite common with many young lawyers, under a lot of pressure, exposed to large amounts of money and public adulation … so Carey’s sanctimonious condescension here is a bit of a stretch. Moreover, her documents meant to humiliate this Predatort patsy actually showed emails from Litzenburg acquiring more cancer victims from freelance misery merchants well after the Johnson verdict on behalf of … The Miller Firm. At the time of the case decision, Litzenburg’s involvement was feted.

Following his being fired, Litzenburg and The Miller Firm sued each other. But the month after they amicably settled their counter-suits out of court, Timothy was then arrested for extortion. Hmm. The story was broken by none other than the indefatigable Carey Gillam, who once again made sure the stink would stick to the threat. She even pounded harder on Timothy repeating her claims of drug abuse on behalf of The Miller Firm’s case (even though it had been settled out of court and on the surface had nothing to do with this extortion case). Her vicious performance belies all notions of integrity since Carey, on frequent occasions, supported or worked with Litzenburg just six months earlier. Some of Carey’s work with Litzenburg was scrubbed off the web in the last few weeks. Wither transparency?

But it gets better.

“None of the plaintiffs are alleging glyphosate gave them cancer”

Somehow I had been under the impression that the whole Roundup lawsuit dog and pony show (and the defence of IARC) had been built on the claim that glyphosate caused cancer. … Stupid Mr Monger!

US Right to Know lobbyist and faux-journalist, Carey Gillam, fast becoming the indirect spokesperson of the Predatort Glyphosate Complex, recently admitted (in what could only be presumed to be another one of her wine-induced social media taunts) that none of the 42,700 cases were ever about glyphosate being a carcinogen.

None! Not one case claimed glyphosate was the problem! Carey Gillam authoritatively declared (see screenshot) that:

“None of the plaintiffs are alleging glyphosate gave them cancer; they’re alleging specific formulated products using POEA combined with glyphosate gave them cancer.”

Carey Gillam

This was Litzenburg’s argument and Carey had admitted working with Litzenburg earlier on this approach. She then went on to school her social media followers on how “POEA has been banned in Europe and is known by scientists around the world to be problematic for human health.

Oops, Carey, that was a secret. All of the cases ARE about glyphosate! Please stick to the song-sheet.

So glyphosate does not cause cancer?

Carey Gillam just cleared up something I had thought only credible scientists and a few bloggers had known: that glyphosate was not an issue. Except she was not supposed to let the Big Lie out.

Carey was fully aware of the Glyphosate Gameplan (only attack Roundup, only mention glyphosate and the IARC cancer conclusion, use the “Monsanto is evil” mantra and since we have no evidence, try to overwhelm Bayer into negotiating a settlement). She has surely had these conversations with the main Roundup Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee law firms she has been regularly interacting with while writing on their behalf. She had even worked on this strategy with Tim Litzenburg, whom she was simultaneously charged with disgracing.

What poor Carey had forgotten was that the judges, juries and media were unaware of the Big Lie. They believed that it was glyphosate and not POEA that caused the cancer and the only source the Predatorts and the activist scientists were relying on as evidence in 42,700 cases was IARC’s Monograph 112 (and that did not draw a connection between POEA and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma). And Monsanto didn’t manufacture POEA … worse, it was only used in one formulation of Roundup (disqualifying a large majority of the 42,700 cases presently being brought to court) and can easily be replaced.

Carey’s loose lips and sudden flirtation with the truth have just cost her toxic tort buddies billions in Bayer settlement fees.

Such a shame that Ms Gillam just destroyed the long-term Glyphosate Gameplan:

  • Years of activist efforts to smear Monsanto’s reputation from the annual Marches Against Monsanto to their $500,000 organic-industry-funded Monsanto Tribunal
  • Years of scientists like Chris Portier, Aaron Blair and Martyn T Smith compromising their reputations to preserve the IARC decision on glyphosate against a barrage of evidence from a wide range of government agencies
  • Years of investment by Predatorts to fund these Ramazzini Rascals and activist agitators to make glyphosate the perfect carcinogen for the next generation of private jets

All of these years of meticulous plotting, reputation destruction and cunning narrative manufacturing, with heavy investment from the American tort law firms, was wasted by Carey’s enlarged ego and her love of a fine Shiraz. No Predatort will ever trust her now.

Worse, Carey’s “Oopsie” undermined the strategy of her employer, US Right to Know, which was founded after Gary Ruskin’s “Just Label It” campaign failure. Ruskin and the organic lobby positioned the global fight against glyphosate as a long-term strategy to ban GMOs (by making herbicide-resistant seeds unmarketable). How would Carey’s last remaining paymaster, the Organic Consumers Association, be able to justify continued funding of a rag-tag activist lobby group that just got an important organic-approved pesticide surfactant, POEA, added to the Predatort hit-list? Ouch!

And poor Carey actually believed she was on the road to positioning herself as a modern-day Rachel Carson. I wouldn’t be surprised if she gets fired (again).

All eggs, one basket … gaping hole

What amazes me (from my external perch in a dusty basement in a far-away little kingdom) was how thin the Glyphosate Gameplan actually was. Every judgement from every scientific institution rejected the corrupted IARC monograph on glyphosate’s potential carcinogenicity. The science remains defiant; IARC thoroughly discredited. Still they put all of their eggs into the “Glyphosate causes cancer” Big Lie.

The Predatorts knew the science on glyphosate as a carcinogen was, simply put, not there and would never get past the appellant courts. And yet every tort law firm, big and small, has continued to invest massively in advertising and plaintiff management based on this Big Lie (running up serious debts with litigation finance loan sharks). If lawyers tried to argue that there is a synergistic effect when glyphosate is mixed with POEA, they would not be able to establish a clear causal link directly with Monsanto. They would not be able to win, so they chose the Big Lie (that glyphosate causes cancer).

If the Predatorts could not win with facts, they would need to massively leverage the poor reputation and public outrage against Monsanto. Investing heavily in negative PR campaigns to create a source of evil upon which to monetise public outrage may generate knee-jerk payouts (that would melt away on appeal), but now that the Monsanto name no longer exists, the impact has diminished.

And if the Predatorts knew glyphosate was not the issue and still they invested hundreds of millions in this strategy, they must have a reason. Why? Essentially their last hope (before Litzenburg’s ambush of the Glyphosate Gameplan) was to put so much pressure on Bayer that the company would settle 42,700 cases out of court. In other words, this cabal of greedy slimeballs were assuming that Bayer’s greedy shareholders would think just like them and not bother with the science.

How is this not, simply put, a “ten-billion-dollar extortion racket”?

Please Define “Extortion”

So the Risk-Monger is not terribly alarmed at a misguided Predatort’s attempt to extort $200 million from a company making an ingredient in a popular weedkiller. That is because he is sickened by the Predatort Glyphosate Complex’s attempt to extort $10 billion from Bayer for a substance they knew was NOT a carcinogen. At least Litzenburg believed POEA was a carcinogen … giving him more integrity than all of the other feisty Predatorts combined who knew the truth but still continued to push the Big Lie that it was glyphosate.

When winning trumps truth, greed guides the decision process.

Which leads to my last question: How should we define “extortion”?

Wikipedia defines extortion as “obtaining benefit through coercion”. Litzenburg’s action was clearly extortion and he will pay the price. But how has this Predatort Glyphosate Complex not themselves committed a similar crime? After the first few Roundup cases delivered sympathetic verdicts, the mad dash for victims went into high gear. The strategy of overwhelming Bayer with thousands of plaintiffs moved lawyers from the messy business of evidence and witnesses to mediators and settlement negotiations. The hyenas were surrounding Bayer and suddenly 15,000 cases became 42,700 when everyone and their uncle were trying to get in on the action.

By throwing so many cases at Bayer, the strategy was to go around the defence lawyers, Bayer directors and their scientists and speak to the company’s shareholders. A company overwhelmed by the dark cloud of endless litigation would face an existential threat no fund manager or shareholder would find acceptable. The Bayer top management barely survived a shareholder revolt in 2019 when there were 8000 Roundup lawsuits; how could they possibly survive 42,700 in 2020?

This is coercion in order to obtain benefit – the very definition of extortion. But when it is done at such a massive scale, for $10 billion, it is called “cunning”. When the extortionists are fully aware their threats are unfounded, it is called “audacity”.

… and when the activist media will celebrate this injustice to farmers and consumers, and no one else except the Risk-Monger is questioning this, it is called “pathetic”.

To succeed, the Glyphosate Gameplan was built on one thing: extortion!

The Predatort Glyphosate Complex coordinated this assault but one does not resort to extortion unless there is a stench of desperation. If the Predatorts had clear evidence that glyphosate was a carcinogen, they would not need to try to compel Bayer into a settlement – they would fight each case on its own merit and protect their clients’ calls for justice. I think many law firms have chased this skunk too far down the rabbit hole and have leveraged themselves too thinly. Word from an insider is that BaumHedlund may be facing serious financial difficulties. As litigation finance debts increase and appeals delay their payouts, if Bayer doesn’t settle, the Scientologists may be facing their own “wall of fire”.

I, for one, wouldn’t be sorry to see those anti-vaxx, chemophobes go under.

And what is to become of poor Carey Gillam? After showing how she was the Predatort mouthpiece to discredit a lawyer who threatened the Glyphosate Gameplan; after showing how she could not keep the Big Lie about glyphosate not being a carcinogen secret; after undermining the five-year strategy of the organic lobby to make GMOs unmarketable … it looks like her relentless goose is cooked. No doubt, she will probably come back and redefine herself (again). Carey Gillam excels at being Carey Gillam and no truth or reality would ever be allowed to stand in her way.

I, for one, wouldn’t trust her.

Image source: Timothy Litzenburg

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