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Vinyl Chloride: The Overview of the Conspiracy (Ross v. Conoco)

Vinyl Chloride: The Overview of the Conspiracy (Ross v. Conoco)

In this statement, plaintiffs identify, chronologically, the date and location each defendant joined the conspiracy largely through the acts of each defendant’s representative(s) on the various vinyl chloride-related committees identified herein.

On information and belief, all significant matters discussed and voted on at the various vinyl chloride-related committee meetings, were discussed by each company’s “Technical Representative” (i.e., Vinyl Panel member) and approved by an MCA or CMA “Management Contact,” who, like the Technical Representative, was formally designated by his company (there were no “her’s” on MCA Panels in those days). 

When it was necessary to seek further management approval, such approval was sought by the MCA Management Contact presented by said management contact to persons within each defendant-company, authorized by each defendant, to oversee and sanction the acts/omissions of each defendant committed through the activities of said committees in furtherance of the conspiracy. 

Plaintiffs believe that it is accurate and convenient to identify the following four discreet points in time when the various American vinyl manufacturers joined what the evidence was will show was a wide-ranging conspiracy within the vinyl industry to misrepresent the nature and extent of the potential and known hazards of working in the vinyl industry in general and of exposure to vinyl chloride in particular: late 1965 – early 1966; October 6, 1966; November 14, 1966, and early 1974. The activities that occurred on these approximate date are discussed briefly in the following paragraph and in far greater detail in the remainder of the following disclosure. 

Each conspiring defendant identified in the following disclosure significantly participated in the conspiracy set forth in this disclosure by committing concerted acts or omissions coordinated through the MCA/CMA and SPI/VI, their trade associations. However, the original “core conspirators” (BFG, Dow, Monsanto, and Union Carbide) were well underway with concerted misconduct for at least several years prior to the formal involvement of the vinyl industry trade association MCA on approximately October 6, 1966.
At some time between the time of June 6, 1966 meeting of the world’s largest vinyl chloride manufacturers in Cleveland, Ohio (described below) and the time of the October 6, 1966 organizational meeting of major American PVC manufacturers conducted under the auspices of the MCA Occupational Health Committee (or within a short time thereafter) the following American PVC manufacturers voluntarily entered the already ongoing international efforts to conceal and misrepresent the true nature and degree of the potential hazards posed by work in the PVC industry and exposure to vinyl chloride. 

All of these companies participated in the sponsorship of the fraudulent purported study of “Occupational Acroosteolysis” conducted under the auspices of the MCA as well as the other activities set forth with more particularity in those portions of the following disclosure that date between 6/6/66 and 11/6/71: Goodyear; Diamond Shamrock (now Oxy); Firestone; Allied Chemical; Union Carbide;BFG; Dow, Monsanto; Uniroyal; General Tire and Rubber and Diversitech General (now, Gencorp, Inc.); Thompson Apex (a division of Conoco Continental Oil Company, i.e., Conoco); Olin Corporation, Inc; Air Products; Airco; Pantasote; Stauffer Chemical; Gulf Oil (Chevron).

The nature and scope of the vinyl industry’s cover up expanded greatly following the discovery of cancer in laboratory animals as a result of industry sponsored research conducted in Europe in 1969. Several companies not known to have previously been involved in the cover up of vinyl chloride’s non-malignant adverse health effects in the 1960’s had clearly voluntarily engaged themselves in the cover-up of vinyl chloride’s carcinogenicity on or about the time of the organizational meeting coordinated by the MCA on November 14, 1971 and the beginning of the MCA’s fraudulent cancer research program. These activities are described in those portions of the following disclosure identified by dates lying between May 6, 1971 and the beginning of the MCA cancer studies in the early months of 1972. These companies referred to in this paragraph include the following: PPG; Ethyl; Hooker Chemical (Occidental); Shell; Tenneco; Conoco Chemicals; ICI Americas (Zeneca, Inc.); Solvay Americas; Borden Chemicals; Great American Chemical (Whittaker). 

The unexpected public disclosure in early 1974 of angiosarcoma (a rare form of cancer attacking the lining of blood vessels in the liver) in workers at a vinyl plant operated by BF Goodrich (BFG) was a very undesirable circumstance for the entire industry – including even vinyl companies that had not been formal signatories to secrecy agreements the MCA-coordinated vinyl manufacturers had entered with European vinyl producers in 1972. These secrecy agreements had been used as an excuse for the MCA-coordinated vinyl manufacturers to conceal their knowledge of vinyl chloride’s carcinogenicity in animals even at doses far lower than were then considered completely safe by persons who were not privy to the secrets the MCA-coordinated vinyl manufacturers had been keeping for years before the public disclosure of the human angiosarcomas at BFG Louisville. For example, angiosarcoma had been secretly known by the MCA-coordinated vinyl manufacturers to be a signal neoplasm for vinyl chloride exposure in animals for years prior to the time that same tumor was first publicly disclosed to have occurred in humans at BFG’s Louisville facility. 

As a result of the public relations and potential financial crisis implied by the so-called “Louisville incident,” the MCA-coordinated vinyl manufacturers undertook to close ranks and broaden their membership base even further to include companies that for whatever reason had not been formal participants in the MCA research program. As a condition of membership for all of the companies that joined and became active participants in the activities and the misconduct identified in the following disclosure as having occurred after January, 1974, each new member made an explicit agreement to abide by secrecy agreements that were already in effect at the time, as well as any new ones. As is described with greater particularity below, not only did the “new” companies voluntarily subscribe to the already existing secrecy agreements (a fact that was explicitly brought home to them at, for example, the Vinyl Panel’s meeting December, 1974), the new and the old companies joined forces to design and conduct an utterly fraudulent and intentionally compromised and misleading scientific research program under the auspices of the MCA, all as described with more particularity below. 

Before or certainly within a short time after, each of these ”new” companies joined the MCA research and advocacy programs, they voluntarily engaged in concerted activities that were purposefully designed to “defocus” cancer in MCA conducted research and in the public mind. At least by or within a short time after joining the MCA Vinyl Panel, every “new member” of the group was fully apprised of the fact that the studies to which they were contributing both financial support and “study subjects” (i.e., workers) were corrupt and intentionally biased, all as set forth with more detail in the portions of this disclosure designated with dates falling between early 1974 and the present. 

These new companies include the following and the date the companies knowingly began participating in the MCA cover-up was 1974 unless otherwise specified: Georgia Pacific; Certainteed; Occidental (per se); Vista Chemical (after 1982); Georgia Gulf (after approximately 1986); Formosa Plastics; Shintech; Robintech; Geon (after 1980s MBO of BFG’s vinyl chloride related assets).

Ross v. Conoco, 90-4837 (14th Judicial District Louisiana) 

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