Monday, February 16, 2015

The Four Dog Defense

4 Dog Defense

By this time, the petrochemical industry had perfected its 4 dog defense. It worked so well in these toxic legacy cases that they are still using it with predictable regularity in spill events. It works like this:
  1. My Dog Does Not Bite.
  2. My Dog Bites, But It Didn't Bite You.
  3. My Dog Bit You. But It Didn't Hurt You.
  4. My Dog Bit You And Hurt You, But It Wasn't My Fault
Here is the counter strategy to the 4 dog defense. If all victims and their lawyers used this approach then the companies would have to change their behavior and policies while dealing with the real issues.

1. Know the breed of dog - learn all of the unique toxic characteristics and potential risks. Determine ways to fingerprint the toxic substance such as the wavelengths of fluorescence of the crude oil. Know the statistics about how often it has caused harm.  
2. Prove you were bitten - Prepare your health history and be prepared to show your "before and after" condition with pictures, if possible. Determine the exact nature of exposure and use techniques to date the time of exposure even if you have to dig up the waste pits and measure the radiation levels from nuclear tests to nail down the time frame. 

3. Proof of harm. Go to the doctor immediately.  Prepare your acute and chronic symptoms. Determine your level of maximum exposure. Compare your symptoms with those in this country and globally.    
4. Risk / reward - Show the chances of being injured. Compare damage with costs to avoid similar injury. Prepare lists of all previous fines and violations for problems of a similar nature. 

While Big Oil is watching you waste all your time and money in the usual ways, they always attack the messenger. This means that before addressing the arguments, they attack the credibility of witnesses (regardless of qualifications) to introduce doubt. They know time is on their side and you will soon run out of money.

The most important lessons are do not be afraid, prepare a defense for every offensive tactic, and always claim the moral high ground. Do not break the law to make your point because then you will be viewed as just another criminal in a never-ending parade of criminals. 

Now that we have seen how the petrochemical industry valued human life and how they responded to the risk of cancer following years of toxic exposure, let’s look at how Big Oil developed their ideas on short term exposure to massive pollution events and what could have been done to counter their defense.