Erin Brockovich – The WritePass Journal : The WritePass Journal
Say the name Erin Brockovich and you think, strong, tough, stubborn and sexy. But that marriage was short lived and the now mother of three was solo again. make a living until she crossed paths with lawyer, Ed Masry, and changed the As President of Brockovich Research & Consulting, she is currently involved in . A slew of expensive estate litigation following the death of founding partner Ed Masry in has helped drive the law firm that made its former. This essay examines the movie Erin Brokovich () in an effort to identify the strengths Examining the role of both Ms Brokovich and her attorney Ed Masry as the plot of the story . Yet, depending too much on these personal relationships can become a detriment in . Including student tips and advice.
Erin was the youngest child of an industrial engineer father and journalist mother.
"Erin Brockovich": The real story
Her parents always believed that she could do anything she set her mind to if she learned to focus her amazing energy. After a few years roaming around at various colleges, Erin decided that she wanted to be a California girl. After divorcing, the single mother became a secretary at a brokerage firm where she met and married her second husband. But that marriage was short lived and the now mother of three was solo again.
Up until this point, Erin was the average divorced single mother trying to make a living… until she crossed paths with lawyer, Ed Masry, and changed the course of both their lives. They won a small settlement but she still needed work so she got a job at their law firm as a file clerk, it was while organizing papers on a pro bono real estate case that Erin first found medical records that would explode into the largest direct action lawsuit in US history. This poison affected the health of the population of Hinkley.
Inas a result of the largest direct action lawsuit of its kind, spear-headed by Erin and Ed Masry, the utility giant was forced to pay out the largest toxic tort injury settlement in US history: Over time, Erin realized that she could use her notoriety to spread positive messages of personal empowerment and to encourage others to stand up and make a difference.
The show celebrated everyday women who triumphed when faced with overwhelming adversity. Because of her fighting spirit, Erin has become the champion of countless women and men. Erin proudly answers every one of them. But many plaintiffs in the Hinkley case say the movie misrepresents what happened. Far from being the populist victory the movie depicts, the Hinkley lawsuit was a case study in how the rise of private arbitration, as an alternative to costly public trials, is creating a two-tiered legal system that not only favors litigants who can afford it over those who cannot, but is open to potential conflicts of interest and cronyism.
Now, many of the townspeople who sued complain their awards were smaller than they deserved. Some have even hired lawyers to get back excessive legal fees charged to children. They say the attorneys kept their awards for six months after the settlement money was delivered, and that they didn't receive interest on it. They complain that there was little or no apparent logic behind the varying amounts of money individual plaintiffs received; some claim that the arbitrators never even looked at their medical records.
Some of these charges and complaints are the predictable result of the sudden, uneven disbursement of a lot of money into a small town. But evaluating these charges is difficult to do, because the arbitration process is shrouded in secrecy. The formula for disbursing the money has been kept secret, as has the entire transcript of the arbitration proceeding.
Had the case gone to trial, the transcript and the disbursement would be a matter of public record. After the settlement, the Hinkley plaintiffs' attorneys took some of the arbitrators in the case on a steeply discounted Mediterranean luxury cruise.Surprise Evidence - Erin Brockovich (9/10) Movie CLIP (2000) HD
The fraternization between the private judges and the plaintiffs' lawyers led California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George to begin a study of the business of arbitration. And while Brockovich appears on "Oprah," some townspeople are preparing for a new round of lawsuits -- this time against their former lawyers, including Brockovich's firm. The following report is based on interviews with scores of residents of Hinkley, and more than two dozen judges and attorneys.
Every effort was made to elicit comment from the powerful attorneys who represented the residents of the town. Two were ultimately interviewed; in both cases the conversations were short and explosive and terminated abruptly by the lawyers.
Masry Estate Disputes Help Drive 'Erin Brockovich' Firm Into Chapter 11
What comments they did make in the case are included below. I understand the movie is going to make Erin and the attorneys out to be heroes. The tale started in Hinkley, a town of about 3, in the Mojave Desert about miles northeast of Los Angeles. Residents here are surrounded by methamphetamine labs and live next to two Marine bases, downstream from a huge naval weapons center, and 20 miles east of Edwards Air Force Base. Over the last 15 or 20 years, many of the residents have also drunk, bathed and swam in water polluted by a chemical called chromium 6.
They suffer many physical ailments, including bloody noses, various intestinal ailments, bad backs, rotten teeth and tumors. The company used the chromium to prevent rust from corroding its water-cooling system. The chemical runoff was disposed of in unlined wastewater ponds.
Afterthe utility lined its ponds. The board ordered the utility to clean up the pollution. She said she didn't want to sell.
A few weeks later, the company agreed. The quick acceptance made her suspicious. That's when she started searching for a lawyer. At the time, Erin Brockovich worked as a clerk at the firm. Ed Masry drove out to talk with Walker, and eventually brought Brockovich. Other townspeople later heard about the visiting attorney and called Masry's office. He soon placed an ad in the local newspaper, announcing a "town meeting" to collect clients to mount a lawsuit.
He offered to represent them in a suit against the giant utility.
"Erin Brockovich": The real story | klokkenluideronline.info
Throughouthe and Brockovich continued to drum up clients. During this time, Brockovich, by her own account, went to UCLA's library and found as many as articles that said chromium 6 was carcinogenic. Other scientific studies, however, from contaminated spots in China, Scotland and the United States, have failed to find cancer-causing properties in waterborne chromium 6. A toxicologist at the U. Department of Health and Human Services, Sharon Wilbur, says that chromium 6 in water doesn't harm humans.
Because the arbitration that eventually decided the case was closed to the public, it's unclear what sort of proof plaintiffs attorneys offered to support their claims. By the spring ofMasry had collected 47 clients. The signed retainers specified that he would collect 40 percent of any award.
Lack's firm specializes in insurance bad faith and toxic torts; Girardi is one of the state's best-connected and most powerful attorneys. The Wilshire Boulevard attorneys had the resources to wage what became a plaintiff case, and they, too, asked clients for 40 percent of any award, plus costs. Girardi and Lack were known for having sued a slew of companies on behalf of present and former Lockheed aerospace workers. In that case Girardi argued that a number of alleged carcinogens found in materials used at Lockheed's Burbank, Calif.
Girardi broke the suit into dozens of cases -- each with ex-workers grouped by length of employment, type of ailments and other factors. Inthe groups started winning increasingly larger awards until the fifth case went before a Los Angeles Superior Court judge in August That jaw-dropping victory catapulted Girardi and Lack into the big leagues of California litigators. Less noticed has been the fate of those awards. Ina few clients began protesting that they had not gotten their money, which prompted them to complain to the California State Bar.
According to bar spokesman Bill Davis, all such matters are confidential until, and unless, disciplinary action is taken. At the time, the bar had suffered deep funding cuts and is now addressing a backlog of approximately 5, such complaints. In a newspaper article written at the time, Girardi contended that the money had been held up on appeal; the attorney did not respond to repeated requests to be interviewed.
The case started in open court in front of Judge LeRoy Simmons. But before too long, Simmons retired. Ironically, in view of later events, he became a private arbitrator and landed a paying part in the movie playing his former self, a sitting judge.
So, on the advice of Girardi and the other attorneys, the residents agreed to voluntary arbitration. The practice gained momentum in the s, when judges, bowing to pressure to alleviate overcrowded courtrooms, began encouraging litigants to resolve their disputes voluntarily.
Not everyone thinks it's a good idea. In the late Rose Bird, then chief justice of the California Supreme Court, called private judging a "long step backward," because it "allows those who can afford it to play by different rules" by permitting rich litigants to leapfrog past others who must wait their turn for a hearing. Eight years later, then-Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas appointed a study of the trend, which ultimately supported the practice but urged that arbitration files be kept in courthouses where the public and press could freely inspect them.
That recommendation was never acted upon. The trouble with civil arbitrations such as the Hinkley case is that public-welfare issues can in effect be decided secretly between corporations and high-powered plaintiffs' attorneys who represent unsophisticated victims.
The for-profit arbitration business is booming, especially in California, he added. Arbitration firms often have powerful attorneys or corporations as steady clients. They pay monthly retainer fees or get volume discounts. As a result, some for-profit justice firms have a vested interest in keeping their clients happy if they want the return business, which has been the topic of seminars sponsored by the California Judges Association.