Dark Waters is the perfect name for the latest anti-corporate film released by the Hollywood Left. Designed by intertwined, agenda-driven interest groups to brainwash an unsuspecting public, truth that should be revealed in this propaganda reel is cloaked in darkness.
In theaters now, Dark Waters purports to tell the story of how a family of chemicals produced by a successful American company has ruined the environment and caused human disease.
Except neither premise is true.
Reality is the deceit behind it: a ring of greedy trial lawyers, radical progressive groups, and politicians paid well for supporting both.
Dark Waters’ villains are chemicals called PFAS (per/polyfluoroalkyl substances) commonly used since the 1940s in products like rugs, medical devices, and non-stick pans. They are a critical component of firefighting foam designed for fuel-based fires.
Dark Waters is Hollywood’s spin on Ohio attorney Robert Bilott’s 2011 class action against PFAS manufacturer DuPont. It is referred to by press and its executives as “based on” and “inspired by real events.” Key characters are composites. But we are to trust its accuracy nonetheless.
Bilott’s suit was based on exposure to the manufacture of PFAS, and it resulted in a $671 million settlement subsequently borne by consumers of DuPont-related products.
It takes a village to keep this gravy train going. As far back as 2000, the New York Times reported enormous donations from the trial bar to Democrats who opposed Republican attempts to curtail lawsuit abuse. In that cycle, trial lawyers gave $53 million to Democrats and $3,000 to Republicans.
They donated $160 million for the 2018 midterms, favoring Democrats 80 to 20. When class action attorneys win frivolous lawsuits, much of that bounty is funneled to Democrats who protect trial lawyers from reforms.
Dark Waters telegraphs the hope that in PFAS, trial lawyers and recipient politicians have found their next big thing. The problem the movie is designed to cover up is that the science on PFAS does not fit their lucrative doomsday narrative.
In 2014, a group of researchers reviewed 24 studies that had examined potential relationships between PFAS and disease. They found no association between PFAS and cancer in humans or animals, but they did discover other studies suggesting association were “weak, inconsistent and not coherent.” Scientists also found that in Parkersburg, West Virginia — ground zero for Bilott’s lawsuit — there was no increased cancer risk in the 6,000 PFAS-exposed DuPont workers studied for 26 years.
In near lockstep with Dark Waters science notwithstanding, many jurisdictions are launching new PFAS lawsuits. Progressive advocacy groups and U.S. House Democrats are helping.
The main law firms involved in these lawsuits are Taft Law (Bilott’s firm), Kelley Drye & Warren, and Sher Edling. Taft and Bilott are currently representing an Ohio firefighter suing fire-retardant foam manufacturers who hasn’t even bothered to pretend he has PFAS-related illness.
Trial lawyers use well-known progressive groups funded by George Soros and the anti-corporate Tides Foundation, such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to bolster their narrative and their lawsuits by scaring the public.
When New Jersey, New Hampshire, and other states hired Kelley Drye and Taft to sue PFAS companies on a lucrative contingency basis, NRDC issued policy suggestions to states on PFAS standards. EWG devotes much of its website to terrifying people about PFAS. It publicly applauded a Clinton judge’s ruling that the Ohio firefighter’s case of no ascertainable damage could proceed.
A Hollywood agent who represents Dark Waters talent is on the EWG board. Tides-funded Resource Media handles public relations both for Sher Edling and Dark Waters producer Participant Media. In some venues, buying a Dark Waters ticket comes with an opportunity to donate to EWG.
Actor Mark Ruffalo, who plays Bilott in the movie and has a net worth of over $30 million, recently proclaimed his intent to end capitalism. Ruffalo is an active member of a radical environmental group funded by Tides.
Led by Michigan Democrat Debbie Dingell, House Democrats have been pushing a provision to designate PFAS a hazardous substance so their trial bar supporters can pursue lucrative continency fees unencumbered. Michigan initiated a PFAS lawsuit.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in 2016, lawsuits drained the American economy of $429 billion — $3,329 per household. Analysts estimate plaintiffs receive between 30 and 0 percent of settlement proceeds. Bilott’s firm made hundreds of millions from the first suit and is poised to make hundreds of millions more while plaintiffs receive crumbs after expenses and fees.
There is nothing paranoid about identifying a conspiracy when it is demonstrably real. Dark Waters’ self-serving narrative is a visual metaphor for deceit, fearmongering, and withholding facts to ensure political power and cash payouts.
That Dark Waters could become courtroom evidence seems absurd, but for a cabal that invents its own truth, nothing is impossible.
Kerri Toloczko is a Senior Policy Fellow at Institute for Liberty, a public policy organization dedicated to limited government, free enterprise, and individual pursuit of the American dream.