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Posted on: Nov 8, 2019

Environmental Law on the Big Screen

By Colin Connor, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP

“Dark Waters,” a film based on Robert Bilott’s case against DuPont, will be released in theaters on November 22. Mark Ruffalo will play Bilott. Anne Hathaway and Tim Robbins also star in the film.

In November 2017, Bilott, an attorney at Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP in Cincinnati, presented about this case at a CLE sponsored by the IndyBar Environmental Law Section and the Air and Waste Management Association. Bilott engaged in decades-long litigation over the chemical contamination of drinking water near a DuPont plant in West Virginia. After his original client settled with DuPont over contamination by perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), Bilott decided to push ahead to expose that PFOA is a risk to human health. 

In 2001, Bilott filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of approximately 70,000 people in six water districts in West Virginia and Ohio that contained high levels of PFOA. A scientific panel formed as part of the class action settlement determined that PFOA contamination is linked to six different diseases.  

Approximately 3,500 community members brought personal injury claims alleging that PFOA in their drinking water led to one or more of these six diseases. These claims were consolidated, and in 2017 the personal injury plaintiffs and DuPont settled for $670 million.

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