Robert Bilott

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Robert Bilott
Born (1965-08-02) August 2, 1965 (age 54)
Ohio, U.S.
Other namesRob Bilott, Robert A. Bilott
Alma materNew College of Florida, Ohio State University School of Law
OccupationEnvironmental lawyer
Known forClass action lawsuit against DuPont on behalf of plaintiffs from Parkersburg, West Virginia
Spouse(s)Sarah Barlage

Robert Bilott (born August 2, 1965) is an American environmental attorney from Cincinnati, Ohio. Bilott is known for the lawsuits against DuPont on behalf of plaintiffs from West Virginia. Bilott has spent more than twenty years litigating hazardous dumping of the chemicals Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).

Early life[edit]

Bilott was born on August 2, 1965.[1] His father was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force. Bilott's grandmother was Alma Holland White, who lived in Vienna, a suburb of Parkersburg, West Virginia. As a child, Bilott often visited his grandmother during the summers. When he was 7 years old, she took him to a cattle farm belonging to friends (named Graham) where Bilott spent the weekend riding horses, milking cows and watching Secretariat win the Triple Crown on TV.[2]

Bilott's father served in the United States Air Force, and Bilott spent his childhood on several air force bases. Because the family moved frequently, Bilott attended eight different schools before graduating from Fairborn High School in Fairborn, Ohio - which was also near an air force Base. He then attended a liberal-arts school in Sarasota called the New College of Florida and completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science/urban studies. After that he attended law school at Ohio State University College of Law where his favorite course was environmental law.[2] He graduated in 1990 with a J.D. degree.[1][3]

Lawsuits against DuPont[edit]

Bilott was admitted to the Bar in 1990[3] and began his law practice at Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP in Cincinnati, Ohio [4] For eight years he worked almost exclusively for large corporate clients and his specialty was defending chemical companies.[5] He became a partner at the firm in 1998.[1]

Bilott's career took an 180 degree turn when he chose to represent a farmer, Wilbur Tennant of Parkersburg, West Virginia whose cattle were dying.[1] The farm was downstream from a landfill where DuPont had been dumping hundreds of tons of PFOA. In the summer of 1999, Bilott filed a federal suit against DuPont in the Southern District of West Virginia. In response, DuPont advised that DuPont and the E.P.A. would commission a study of the farmer's property, conducted by three veterinarians chosen by DuPont and three chosen by the E.P.A. When the report was released, it blamed the Tennants for the dying cattle claiming that poor husbandry was responsible: ‘‘poor nutrition, inadequate veterinary care and lack of fly control.’’[6]

In August 2001, Bilott filed a class action lawsuit against DuPont.[1] In 2017, Bilott won a $671 million settlement from DuPont on behalf of more than 3,500 plaintiffs in West Virginia.[7]

In 2018, Bilott filed a class action that “seeks relief on behalf of a nationwide class of everyone in the United States” against 3M, DuPont, and Chemours.[8] His litigation against DuPont and 3M is ongoing as of May 2019.[9]


Robert Bilott is the author of the acclaimed memoir Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed, and One Lawyer’s Twenty-Year Battle Against DuPont, published in 2019 by Atria Books.[10] His story also became the basis for Dark Waters, a 2019 film starring Mark Ruffalo as Bilott.

Awards and recognitions[edit]

  • 2005 Trial Lawyer of the Year. Presented by The Trial Lawyers For Public Justice Foundation.[3]
  • 2006 Super Lawyer Rising Star. Selected by Cincinnati Magazine.[3]
  • 2008 100 Top Trial Lawyers from Ohio. Named by American Trial Lawyers Association.[3]
  • 2016 Joined the board of the Next Generation Choices Foundation (a.k.a. Less Cancer) "to support its mission in championing education and policy that will help prevent cancer."[11]
  • 2017 Right Livelyhood Award. Presented by The Right Livelyhood Foundation (December 1, 2017)[1][12]
  • 2019 Lawyer of the Year in Litigation - Environmental. Named by Best Lawyer.[13]

Personal life[edit]

In 1996, Bilott married Sarah Barlage. They have three children.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Robert Bilott". The Right Livelihood Award. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  2. ^ a b c Rich, Nathaniel (6 April 2016). "The Lawyer Who Became DuPont's Worst Nightmare". New York Times. Retrieved 7 December 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Robert Bilott". Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  4. ^
  5. ^ The Lawyer Who became Dupont's worst nightmare, New York Times, 6 January 2016
  6. ^ The Lawyer Who became Dupont's worst nightmare, New York Times, 6 January 2016
  7. ^ De Le Garza, Alejandro (November 25, 2019). "Dark Waters Tells the True Story of the Lawyer Who Took DuPont to Court and Won. But Rob Bilott's Fight Is Far From Over". Time. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  8. ^ Lerner, Sharon (October 6, 2018). "Nationwide Class Action Lawsuit Targets DuPont, Chemours, 3M, and Other Makers of PFAS Chemicals". The Intercept. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  9. ^ Schlanger, Zoe (May 29, 2019). "DuPont and 3M knowingly contaminated drinking water across the US, lawsuits allege". Quartz. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Bilott Joins Less Cancer Board". Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  12. ^ "Alternative Nobel Prize awarded to four activists". September 26, 2017. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  13. ^ "Robert A. Bilott". Retrieved December 9, 2019.

External links[edit]