SlimeGate is a multi-series exposé into how American toxic tort law firms are using a network of scientists tied to the International Agency for Research on Cancer and activist NGOs to create causal relationships between cancers and certain chemical exposures designed for frightened juries. With large amounts of money secretly being channeled to promote politically-motivated networks with interests in attacking industry, the law firms have been able to fabricate public fear of cancers, generate outrage toward corporations and profit handsomely. Their slimeball greed has done irreparable damage to the reputation and public trust in science, hurt innovative industries, consumers and sound policymaking.
The introduction looks back at the Portier Papers and shows how the image of scientific integrity was smashed by the greed of the tort law firms, activists and scientists.
2.1 Predatorts: The Honeypot Crisis
This first section of Chapter 2 looks at how US tort law firms faced a crisis when the Tobacco Agreement and the bankruptcy of most asbestos companies caused their decades-long honeypot of litigation fees to dry up. The La Jolla Playbook is assessed (where law firms would work with NGOs and scientists to apply a Tobacconisation Strategy to sue industries out of existence). Case studies on how this strategy was being implemented sets the scene for the type of slime going on in the tort industry.
2.2 Predatorts: Applying the Plaintiff Playbook
The 12 steps of the Plaintiff Playbook are presented showing how easy it has become for Predatort law firms to get a scientist to identify a causal link to a cancer, identify an industry using the chemical, recruit some NGOs to attack the reputation of one company and let an outraged jury pay for the lawyers’ private jet. Two examples of the illegitimate greed of these Predatorts are presented (atrazine and silicone breast implants) where bogus science and relentless activist smear campaigns created rich dividends for the slimeball lawyers who lined their pockets and left nothing for their plaintiffs.
2.2.1 Predatorts: The Glyphosate Extortion Racket
The Roundup Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee has managed a tight gameplan: make the case only against Monsanto/Bayer; make the cancer link only with glyphosate; concentrate on moral outrage against Monsanto rather than evidence of cancer; and overwhelm the defence with thousands of cases hoping to force Bayer into seeking a settlement. This is extortion. When one tort lawyer chose to attack another company making another substance used in certain Roundup formulations that was likely to be more hazardous, he had to be stopped. This section looks at how vicious of a game the Predatorts play.
2.3 Predatorts: Take the Money and Run
This is a technical text and probably the most important in understanding how and why law firms take the lions share of jury payouts. A demonstration of the corrupt world of litigation finance will help show how law firms can live well and pay off their scientists, NGOs and anonymous investors while lawsuits drag on and the alleged victims receive nothing. A breakdown of all of the payouts to politicians, journalists, judges and ageing rock stars (I kid you not) shows how millions can simply vanish before the Predatorts even get to the ad spend and victim trawling costs. In the Predatort world, everybody needs to be paid (except the alleged victim).
2.3.1 Predatorts: Is Litigation Finance a Ponzi Scheme
Litigation Finance tools are providing easy money for tort law firms to expand their portfolios but as the number of mass tort lawsuits explode (more than 30,000 in the US on glyphosate and talcum powder) the risk of poor returns and lost cases could wipe out these businesses. Litigation finance is unregulated, not transparent and conducts little to no scrutiny. This house of cards is built on shaky foundations.
2.3.2 Predatorts: The Predatort Victim Exchange
There is an entire ecosystem of advertisers, lawyers, doctors and marketing managers working to produce a plaintiff pool they then pawn off on tort law firms in a sort of victim exchange. As these thousands of packets are sold and resold, there is no objective in serving the client or actually going to court. Predatorts amassing thousands of plaintiffs are going deep into debt with litigation finance firms, promising to pay off the loans once the company agrees to (is forced into) a settlement. One thing is certain: it was never about the victims.
2.4 Predatorts: The Hypocrisy of the Honeypot
Probably the darkest part of SlimeGate. The moral decay of activists like Martin Pigeon knowingly working with these slimeballs, IARC’s relationship with hateful NGOs like GMWatch, the regulators pandering to the public outrage stirred up for the courtroom, the costs shouldered ultimately by the consumer, the loss of innovative technologies, the open corruption justified by moral vengeance all setting the scene for the Predatort to pretend to be the saviour in waiting (with the alms paid to them surely justified) … Do not read this section unless you are prepared to get angry.
3.1 The Tort-Tort Scam: Scientists who Slime
The verb “to slime” is introduced to show the various ways scientists lie, withhold evidence and attack opponents when fabricating a correlation between a carcinogen and a chemical. Three case studies of three scientists who have been bought by Predatorts will help present a portrait of the scientists who slime.
3.2 The Tort-Tort Scam: The Benzene Bastards
This section reveals four dreadful scandals at the heart of IARC. A group of scientists working with Predatorts demand that IARC does a further monograph on benzene because they have insufficient evidence for a large number of potential lawsuits to be successful (and IARC duly complied). IARC knowingly allowed scientists working with Predatorts to sue benzene manufacturers to serve as full members on the second IARC benzene monograph panel. IARC then quietly edited out these conflict of interest affiliations after the benzene monograph was published. Finally, IARC engaged a tort-tort making millions in tort litigation fees to personally attack a journalist and scientists alleging, without evidence, that they received money from Monsanto. One of the Benzene Bastards engaged in a colourful discussion in the Comments section.
3.2.1 The Corruption of IARC
Given the length and importance of the Benzene Bastards article, in August 2019 it was re-written into a four-part series outside of the SlimeGate vocabulary as “The Corruption of IARC”. In the process, new research and information was released (about 65% new content). It revealed 30 cases of corruption within IARC just on the glyphosate and benzene monographs.
Part 1: IARC Monographs Produced for US Tort Law Firms
Part 2: IARC Hiding Conflicts of Interest
Part 3: The Glyphosate Gameplan
Part 4: IARC’s Ruthless Mercenaries
3.3 The Tort-Tort Scam: The True Believers
While much of this series looks at how Predatort money corrupted scientists and the scientific process, this section looks at the motivation of scientists who have a “higher calling”. Disillusioned by the compromises in the regulatory risk management process, many scientists in the US have decided that “adversarial regulation” is more efficient to ban substances, products or practices. While “suing the hell out of an industry” until it changes (or goes bankrupt) is indeed successful in effecting change, it is neither democratic nor scientific.
3.4 The Tort-Tort Scam: Leaving the Lab for the Lawyer
The Predatort temptation to corrupt scientists to abandon their profession is partly due to the weakness of the institutions. Decades of tobacco industry lobbying has deeply affected how regulatory scientists perceive their profession. Tort-tort involvement in lawsuits, however, undermines public trust in research and technology and is contributing to the shift away from evidence-based policymaking and towards policy-based science. This section also presents the Tort-Tort Playbook: Ten steps for scientists with flexible morals to make a million dollars.