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The movie that I chose for this report is Erin Brockovich, which is based on a true story. The movie is about a single mother of three children who is in search of a job. The beginning starts out with Erin getting into a car accident, and going to see a lawyer, Ed Masry, to try and sue the man who hit her. She lost the case, and out of spite and desperation, pushed Mr. Masry into giving her a job in his office. Erin Brockovich’s job was to file cases. One day Mr. Masry asked her to open up a file for real estate – pro bono. While she was doing that she noticed that medical records for an immunotoxicology panel were in the real estate files. Curious, Erin received Mr. Masry’s permission to further investigate. Erin met with Donna and Peter Jensen and learned that they have both been in and out of the hospital for numerous tumors and neurological disorders. She discovered that PG&E had been paying for their medical bills because of the chromium in the water.
A good portion of this movie is revolved around Erin Brockovich running around and doing research about the chromium and PG&E’s involvement in it. She learns that PG&E had been using hexavalent chromium at .58 parts per million, and that the legal limit of it is .05. PG&E had basically deceived the people of Hinkley CA by telling them about chromium 3 and how good it was, when they were actually using chromium 6. Eventually Erin and Ed Masry are able to get enough information and evidence (plus over 500 plaintiffs) to take on PG&E in court. They never had an actual trial, but a binding arbitration instead. The judge ruled in favor of the residents of Hinkley and ordered PG&E to pay $333 million to them.
Not many trial stages were depicted in the movie because no actual trial occurred. However, a few steps of civil litigation process were portrayed. It started out with the pretrial stage where a meeting occurs before the actual trial. These trials are aimed to resolve issues, and the judge decides if the case will go forward and be acceptable to go to trial. Next was the informal negotiations. This is where the attorneys for both parties met to try to address the issues at hand. In this movie however, Erin was the only one who talked. There wasn’t really any actual negotiating happening. I personally don’t think that would happen in a real informal negotiation. Throughout these legal stages, PG&E stood adamant and denied any knowledge of the chromium in the water. No actual trial was took place. Ed Masry and his associates thought it would be best to have a binding arbitration as a trial can drag on for years. Since there was no jury, the final say on the matter relied solely on the judge. Although they never showed the actual arbitration, they did mention that the plaintiffs won $333 million from PG&E.
There were a lot of stages that were not actually present, but you could still get an idea that they did happen, and what the outcome was. The movie never portrayed the process of the defendant’s response, but as I mentioned before, PG&E denied any knowledge of what they were being accused of. Pretrial motions, and the discovery stage were not presented in this movie either. I think that a lot of those stages were left out for the fact that it is a movie after all. It was already over 2 hours long, and any more information and stages would almost be overkill. The process of a lawsuit is boring, and providing every little detail would just prolong the movie, and make it less interesting.
I noticed that during the movie, Erin Brockovich was very kind and caring about the plaintiffs involved. She seemed to almost become friends with the whole town of Hinkley. You could tell the emotion and feelings she felt for these people. Even though she wasn’t a lawyer, she sure did act like one. And I honestly don’t believe that a lawyer would get so emotionally involved with their clients. You could tell just how cold PG&E’s attorneys were portrayed, and when I think of a lawyer that’s what I see. Overall I do believe that because this movie was based on a true story, it is depicted to be as accurate as possible.
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