How It Started / The Long Road to Justice / Opening the World’s Eyes to PFAS Contamination / Leading Nationwide PFAS Litigation / Helping Clients Navigate Evolving PFAS Laws and Regulations / Taft PFAS Timeline
Beginning with his first letter to governmental officials in March of 2001, Bilott has been working for over two decades to elevate awareness of the nature and scope of the threat to human health and the environment posed by PFAS “forever chemicals.” These efforts have been chronicled in an expanding array of media coverage and publications, including a story that appeared on the cover of the New York Times Magazine in January of 2016, titled “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare,” which generated unprecedented new interest, worldwide, in the PFAS issue. This increased attention led to a feature-length documentary, titled The Devil We Know, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018 (and later ran on Netflix), and a Hollywood feature film that premiered in 2019, titled “Dark Waters,” starring Mark Ruffalo as Bilott.
That same year, Bilott also published Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed, and One Lawyer’s Twenty-Year Battle Against DuPont,” which tells the story of his personal and professional journey through the litigation that uncovered the global PFAS contamination crisis, and has been translated and reprinted in Chinese and Japanese.
Bilott’s work, including the documentary, film, and book, helped spur significantly increased attention on the PFAS problem worldwide, including, for example:
Feature Print Articles:
Radio and Podcasts:
Films and Documentaries:
In 2017, Bilott received the international “Right Livelihood Award” (also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”) from the Right Livelihood Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden, for his decades of work on PFAS issues. Because of this experience and knowledge on PFAS issues, Bilott is frequently invited to provide keynote lectures and talks at law schools, universities, colleges, communities, and other organizations all over the world, including testimony before federal and state Congressional subcommittees, parliaments of the European Union, individual member states, and the United Kingdom, and committees of the United Nations. This heightened public awareness has led to increased attention by regulatory officials and lawmakers across the country and internationally, including efforts to better understand how PFAS exposures have been occurring and through which products and processes.
Leading Nationwide PFAS Litigation
Helping Clients Navigate Evolving PFAS Laws and Regulations
As information regarding the true nature and extent of the PFAS contamination problem has emerged, regulators and lawmakers across the planet have responded with an ever-increasing number of new proposed rules, laws, and policies or modifications to existing legal standards. This includes new drinking water standards and guidelines at the state level and changes in both the federal and international arenas. For example, the U.S. EPA has announced that it plans to adopt federally enforceable maximum contaminant levels for certain PFAS in drinking water and intends to designate several of these same PFAS as “hazardous substances” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), raising new potential “Superfund” liabilities with respect to those PFAS. Based on their decades of work on these PFAS issues dating back to 1998, Taft attorneys have developed unparalleled experience and insight on these substances and have gained a broad and unique understanding of the multifaceted impacts this family of “forever chemicals” can have on the regulated community. Taft’s deep bench of experienced PFAS practitioners use this knowledge and expertise on a daily basis to advise clients on a wide array of issues across industrial sectors. These matters range from advising businesses regarding PFAS in packaging and products, representing and advising landfills, wastewater treatment facilities, airports, governmental entities, and drinking water utilities in civil and regulatory actions, investigating and remediating PFAS impacts (including at closed CERCLA and RCRA sites), addressing PFAS liability considerations in business transactions, and prosecuting PFAS claims. Taft attorneys regularly contribute to the PFAS Insights blog, providing insight and analysis on important PFAS news and developments.
Taft PFAS Timeline
1998 – Wilbur Tennant meets Rob Bilott.
1999 – Tennant v. DuPont case is filed.
2001 – Tennant v. DuPont case is settled, and a new class action lawsuit is filed in Leach v. DuPont case for approximately 70,000 people in West Virginia and Ohio with PFOA (C8) in their water, and Bilott begins outreach to governmental entities to warn of PFAS dangers.
2004 – Leach v. DuPont class action settled (DuPont to pay class benefits valued at over $300 million, including water filtration systems, class member blood and health data collection, class member health studies, and process for class member medical monitoring).
2005-2006 – PFAS litigation initiated against 3M in Minnesota and against DuPont in New Jersey for residents with PFAS in drinking water, and blood and health data collected from approximately 69,000 class members under Leach v. DuPont class settlement.
2011 – New class settlement valued at over $8 million announced in New Jersey PFAS case to provide drinking water filtration benefits to class members.
2012 – C8 Science Panel created under Leach v. DuPont class settlement confirms “probable links” between PFOA and six serious human diseases, including two types of cancer.
2013 – C8 Medial Panel created under Leach v. DuPont class settlement releases the first community-wide PFAS medical monitoring program for thousands of people, and C8 MDL was created to handle claims of thousands of Leach class members with diseases linked to PFOA.
2015 – First C8 MDL trial results in a jury verdict that DuPont caused cancer in Leach class member who drank PFOA.
2016 – New York Times Magazine article, “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare,” published.
2017 – Bilott receives the International Right Livelihood Award (also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”) for his decades of work on PFAS “forever chemicals,” and settlement announced in C8 MDL to resolve approximately 3,500 then-pending linked disease cases of Leach class members in exchange for DuPont’s payment of $670.7 million.
2018 – Documentary, “The Devil We Know,” premieres at Sundance Film Festival, Minnesota settles nation’s first PFAS natural resource damage case against 3M for $850 million, AFFF MDL is formed, and Bilott files new case seeking nationwide PFAS medical monitoring, studies, and testing in Hardwick v. 3M.
2019 – Bilott’s book, “Exposure,” is published, and the Hollywood film, “Dark Waters” is released.
2021 – An additional settlement of $83 million is announced in the C8 MDL to resolve dozens of additional Leach class member linked disease claims, and a $15 million class settlement is announced in the AFFF MDL with Tyco for damages related to PFAS in certain private wells in Wisconsin.
2022 – Court issues order allowing Hardwick v. 3M case to proceed as a class action seeking medical monitoring, studies, and testing on behalf of millions of class members.
2023 – Two settlements announced in the AFFF MDL with 3M and DuPont-related companies valued collectively at over $13.5 billion for public water provider claims.