I’m not in the habit of offering advice to injury defense lawyers. Okay, actually I am. So here goes: defense attorneys, it is highly impolitic to combat a study suggesting that people who live near mountaintop mining operations are at higher risk of birth defects by saying the study didn’t take into account the effects of “consanguinity” in Appalachia. Yes, that’s right; Crowell and Moring, which has deep ties to the National Mining Association, implied that Appalachians who live near mines are having babies with birth defects not because of the mines… but because they’re inbred.
The ABA Journal notes that, stereotypes aside, Appalachians aren’t any more inbred than the rest of us. Ultimately, if you are going to throw out politically incorrect invectives about something that causes children and families great pain, at least be right.
The firm is now backpedaling, saying that consanguinity should be taken into account any region, and that it never meant to imply that Appalachians have a high rate of inbreeding. I would have liked to the video of the angst at the partners’ meeting where they panicked and drafted this PR back away.