Martyn T. Smith PhD is a Professor of Toxicology and the Kenneth Howard and Marjorie Witherspoon Kaiser Endowed Chair in Cancer Epidemiology at University of California, Berkeley.
He has the kind of resume environmental activists love – Director, NIEHS Center for Environmental Health Sciences, Superfund Research Program and one of the chief architects of a movement called “exposomics”, which basically says if you have a disease they can find an environmental cause. Because he is a statistician, he can.
He is most famous as being the go-to expert witness for the infamous Metzger Law Group, trial lawyers who have made their careers filing nuisance lawsuits claiming environmental harm. In 2002, they brought Smith in as the front man for their newest trial lawyer NGO: Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT).
The strategy is the same as they had previously employed: Create an NGO to file a lawsuit, represent the NGO, get a settlement, keep most of the money and make it look like it is about helping environmentalists.
Smith offered them something far meatier – he got himself into the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which evaluates compounds and if IARC declares a chemical to be hazardous, it is automatically included on California’s Prop 65 list, which then must carry a warning label. From 2010 to 2014 he was involved in IARC. Like his friend Chris Portier, also from NIEHS, he tackled getting acrylamide evaluated. And he succeeded.
Once IARC declared acrylamide a carcinogen, CERT asked Metzger to sue (the address for CERT is the Metzger office) companies like Burger King and Starbucks and Metzger hired an expert witness named Martyn Smith.
CERT, founded by Smith, hired Metzger to fire a lawsuit against companies based on an IARC result Smith helped deliver. Then Metzger hired Smith, the founder of their “client”, as the expert witness because he was at IARC.
In 2013, those nuisance lawsuits led to $17 million in higher costs for Californians. Non-profits like CERT took home a cool $2.5 million, even though they are just fake NGOs created by trial lawyers. The trial lawyers directly kept the rest.