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Erin Brockovich

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The Leslie Brodie Report’s Keyword Analysis for December 26, 2011 (TLR Note: an upset reader from Davis , California with an IP Adress of 98.244.54.59 — Dave Rosenberg? Dan Maguire? Tim Fall?)

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The Leslie Brodie Report Sends Greetings to John Keker as Keker & Van Nest Now Part of Inquiry by TLR/YR/Others Into California Energy Crisis / PG&E Bankruptcy, and Related Financial Shenanigans involving CaliforniaALL and CCPF

California Energy Crisis

(L-R) Joe Dunn-Tom Girardi-James Brosnahan-Martha Escutia who served as original BOD members of embattled Voice of OC;  Pierce O’Donnell;  Lance Astrella;  Jerome Falk of Howard Rice (represented PG&E in bankruptcy proceedings, Girardi-Astrella-Lack in a malpractice action by Robert Copple involving the Sempra Energy settlement, secondary representation of PG&E in Erin Brockovich matter while PG&E in bankruptcy — a case prosecuted by Girardi/Lack, really special prosecutor in matter of In Re Girardi, part of litigation Attorney General Bill Lockyer had advanced against parent company of  PG&E — a case Jerry Brown had later dismissed under highly questionable circumstances.  Sources maintain since the King can do no wrong, Jerry Brown — for all its worth – can have his legacy barring any new developments such as late discovery of new evidence.  In addition, Jerome Falk with strong ties to Howard Rice partner Douglas Winthrop who is part and parcel of California Bar Foundation which mysteriously funneled “Hush-Hush” sub-rosa $780,000 to CaliforniaALL ) ; Ex-CPUC Commissioner Geoffrey Brown (ties to CaliforniaALL, Judy Johnson’s CCPF, California Bar Foundation,  as well as secondary ties to the “Oral Sex Scandal” involving Donald Steedman/Robert Hawley/Castro Valley-based female attorney); Joe Cotchett; Walter Lack of In Re Girardi/Sempra Litigation; John Keker of Keker & Van Nest (KVN with strong ties to CPUC via Lynch/Cohen; Robert Van Nest/Jon Streeter represented PG&E before FERC in matter of CPUC vs. El Paso; Jon Streeter part of State Bar BOG while YR had submitted request for formal investigation.  Streeter presently part of BOG, as well as California Bar Foundation BOD)

 

Please see developing story @:

http://lesliebrodie.blog.co.uk/2012/04/11/cpuc-vs-el-paso-corp-federal-energy…

 

PG&E’s Attorneys’ Douglas Winthrop, Jerome Falk, Ethan Schulman of Howard Rice and Joshua Bar-Lev / Frank Lindh Hereby Asked If PG&E Had Secretly Settled with Thomas Girardi for $56 Million in the Erin Brockovich Matter for Alleged Invasion of Privacy ?

Consistent with The Leslie Brodie Report’s commitment to integrity and adherence to the highest level of ethical journalism, and in order to report on both sides of the story, PG&E’s Attorneys’ Douglas Winthrop, Jerome Falk, Ethan Schulman, James Lopes, Amy Margolin of Howard Rice and Joshua Bar-Lev,  Frank Lindh are hereby asked to disclose whether PG&E had entered into a separate and secret settlement which was mediated by JAMS.

Said confidential settlement allegedly calls for $56 Million to be transferred to Thomas Girardi of Girardi & Keese stemming from alleged “invasion of privacy” by PG & E against Thomas Girardi who was representing the plaintiffs in a class action matter known as Hinkley/Erin Brockovich matter?

 

 

Please observe that, rather than contacting PG&E’s Attorneys’ Douglas Winthrop, Jerome Falk, Ethan Schulman, James Lopes, Amy Margolin of Howard Rice and Joshua Bar-Lev,  Frank Lindh  directly, the query is being delivered publicly, here and now.

Any  comments, opinion or observation can be sent to lesliebrodie@gmx.com

PG&E Former In-House Counsels Joshua Bar-Lev and CPUC’s Frank Lindh (Father of Al Quaeda’s John Walker Lindh) Hereby Asked to Opine on Howard Rice Concurrent Representation of Girardi & Keese and PG&E While Hinkley/Erin Brockovich Still Pending)

PG&E Former In-House Counsels Joshua Bar-Lev and CPUC’s Frank Lindh (Father of Al Quaeda’s John Walker Lindh) Hereby Asked to Opine on Howard Rice Concurrent Representation of Girardi & Keese and PG&E While Hinkley/Erin Brockovich Matter Still Pending.

 

Howard Rice represantation of Girardi & Keese and Engstrom Liposcomb & Lack in the matter of Copple v. Astrella, please see @:

http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?page=3&xmldoc=20061271442FSupp2d829_…

 

Howard Rice representation of PG&E in 2006, please see profile of former Howard Rice partner Ethan Schulman which states:

 

Lynch v. California Public Utilities Commission, 311 B.R. 978 (N.D. Cal. 2004), dismissed as moot (2006, 9th Cir.). Successfully represented Pacific Gas and Electric Company on appeal by former members of California Public Utilities Commission from Bankruptcy Court’s order confirming PG&E’s plan of reorganization.”   @:

http://www.calappellate.org/Member-Directory?action=view_member&memberID=141

 

Erin Brockovich matter — Girardi & Keese and Engstrom Lipscomb & Lack represent plaintiff against PG & E in 2006, please see @:

http://lesliebrodie.posterous.com/2006-pg-e-agrees-to-295-million-settlement-in

2006 – PG & E agrees to $295 settlement in “Erin Brockovich’ (Note: 1st settlement in 1996 for $333 ; Walter Lack and Thomas Girardi of In Re Girardi Represent P’s 3- PG & E Major Client of Howard Rice’s Jerome Falk of In Re Girardi and Keker & Van Nest

Pacific Gas and Electric on Friday agreed to pay $295 million to settle claims by more than 1,000 residents in several Mojave Desert towns who said they were harmed by groundwater contamination, a case made famous by the film “Erin Brockovich.”

As part of the settlement, the utility apologized to affected residents in the towns where leaks from gas compressor plants in the 1950s through the 1970s polluted the groundwater basin with chromium.

“Clearly, this situation should never have happened, and we are sorry that it did. It is not the way we do business, and we believe it would not happen in our company today,” the utility said.

The apology marked a bittersweet victory in Hinkley, Calif., where residents have blamed cancer deaths and birth defects on the polluted water.

“Well, I think it’s great because a lot of [residents] do have health problems,” said Brenda McIlvain, a bar owner whose ex-husband will benefit from the settlement. “I think it’s great that the ones that signed up on the [lawsuit] will get a little bit of money to help them.”

The settlement comes before the trial was supposed to begin and ends the majority of the claims from Hinkley and other towns, including Kettleman Hills, that said their groundwater was contaminated.

“This closes the books on almost all the claims,” said Jon Tremayne, a spokesman for PG&E. “The settlement provides closure, and it allows us to focus on the future. We’re hopeful it will provide closure for the plaintiffs and allow them to move forward.”

The case dated to 1951, when spent chromium, added to cooling water to reduce corrosion, leaked from unlined retention ponds and seeped into the groundwater under Hinkley, making its way into community wells. The plaintiffs’ attorneys claimed that some of the town’s water supply was tainted with 140 times the amount of chromium allowed under government standards. They suggested that most of the cancers were caused when children played in the water and inhaled particles.

In July 1996, PG&E agreed to pay $333 million to about 650 people who blamed cancer and other diseases on polluted water leaking from a gas pumping station.

 

Please continue @:

http://articles.latimes.com/2006/feb/04/local/me-erin4

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich has started her own investigation into the mysterious illness (TLR Note: 1- “Environmental activist” ? Or Legal Activist ! 2- Her “Own” Investigation? Pre-Litigation? )

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich has started her own investigation into the mysterious illness that’s caused symptoms of facial tics and verbal outbursts among teenagers in Le Roy,

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-01-26/new-york-school-mystery-…

Tourettes-like syndrome SPREADS among high school students as activist lawyer Erin Brockovich suggests ‘chemical spill’ (TLR Note: 1 — Erin Brockovich a Lawyer? 2- “Fought and Won a Mass Lawsuit’ ? )

Media_httpidailymailc_lmtaa

Campaigning lawyer and environmental activist Erin Brockovich was reportedly looking into the case. In 1996, Brockovich fought and won a mass lawsuit for an estimated $333 million dollars against Pacific Gas and Electric, who allegedly contaminated drinking water in the town of Hinkley, California.
Crusading: Campaigning lawyer and environmental activist Erin Brockovich has taken up the case in Genesee County

Crusading: Campaigning lawyer and environmental activist Erin Brockovich has taken up the case in Genesee County

Brockovich, who was the inspiration for the eponymous film starring Julia Roberts, has already started investigating, according to digg.com.

She has suggested that a chemical spill from a train derailment in the 1970s near the site of the school may be the cause. She has sent scientists to collect soil samples around the high school.

Beth Jay — The One Who “hooks up” with Thelton Henderson and a Confederate of Thomas Girardi — Opine on Law Becoming Business

Quiet Clout
Beth Jay is the chief justice’s invisible voice and agent of change. But don’t tell her that.

By Mike McKee
The Recorder
April 8, 2002


UTILITY INFIELDER: Beth Jay, principal attorney to Chief Justice Ronald George, is often called on to bat clean-up.
Photo: Shelley Eades

Jay is concerned about the law becoming a business rather than a profession. “I see the stresses and strains of people from law as a business,” she says, “and that bothers me.

“A lot of people,” she adds, “go into the law because they have a sense of wanting to do justice, and by serving the public and advancing the rule of law, we should encourage people to remember that part.”

See @:
http://www.law.com/regionals/ca/stories/edt0408c.shtml

Related story @:
http://lesliebrodie.posterous.com/erin-brockovich-nuisance-litigant-on-behalf-o

Erin Brockovich — Nuisance Litigant– on Behalf of Girardi & Keese’s Thomas Girardi — Almost all Cases Deemed to Have Lacked Merit and Were Dismissed

ABC’s Cynthia McFadden Loses Credibility in Expose of “Erin Brockovich Still Fighting for Neighbors Over Contaminated Drinking Water

Media_httpaabcnewscom_rckqc

In the movie, the victims in the celebrated lawsuit won big. In reality, many are wondering where the money went — and they’re mad at their lawyers. See Salon article @: http://www.salon.com/2000/04/14/sharp/

Thomas Girardi of Girardi & Keese was found recently to have engaged in grave misconduct by a federal court.. Some of the findings included that Girardi have resorted to employing “the persistent use of known falsehoods” and that “false representations” were made “knowingly, intentionally, and recklessly” during years of litigation. Girardi is highly unethical and efforts are underway to seek his disbarment. See
http://lesliebrodie.blog.co.uk/2011/11/15/united-states-court-of-appeals-for-…

See ABC’s coverage @:
http://abcnews.go.com/US/erin-brockovich-fighting-neighbors-toxic-drinking-wa…

Dateline 2000 — Laura Chick, Erin Brockovich, and Girardi & Keese’s Tom Girardi in the Plot of CHROMIUM 6

Saturday September, 2000

Safety Of City Drinking Water Questioned

Erin Brockovich Says Level Of Chemical Agent Could Pose Threat

At the urging of well-known legal activist Erin Brockovich, the Los Angeles City Council gave unanimous backing Friday to a state bill in favor of more stringent testing of San Fernando Valley aquifers.

The Council voted 10-0 for the measure, but retreated from a related proposal that called for the Department of Water and Power to intensify research on the amount of chromium 6 in ground water wells.

The reportedly cancer-causing chemical is not considered dangerous by state standards if it does not exceed concentrations of 50 parts per billion. Federal law says drinking water is safe even at double that level.

But Brockovich, who addressed the Council at an open session Friday, said even minute quantities of the carcinogen can be perilous to a person’s health.

“I question why you have hexavalent chromium at any level in the San Fernando drinking water,” she said. “You use that very water to shower in. You use that very water to bathe in. You use that very water — that is contaminated with chromium 6 — in your swamp coolers, and that is generating an inhalation risk to the people. Just because you find chromium 6 based at a low level in your drinking water, don’t dismiss it.”

Brockovich’s partner, attorney Ed Masry, was even more blunt.

“If it’s a choice that I’m going to have to drink chromium-laced water to water my lawn – the lawn dies,” he told CBS 2 News.

Masry and Brockovich were profiled in the 1999 film “Erin Brockovich,” starring Julia Roberts. Their case against Pacific Gas and Electric ended up costing the company $333 million.

DWP officials assert that the city’s drinking water is nowhere near unsafe.

DWP General Manager David Freeman told the Council that most wells don’t register more than 10 parts per billion of chromium 6. He said that does not justify shutting them down.

“We do not recommend doing so when there is no evidence that chromium in these very tiny quantities in our water warrant drastic action,” Freeman said.

He added that a single PPB amounts to an eye-drop in two average swimming pools.

But Councilwoman Laura Chick, a city controller candidate, and colleague Joel Wachs, a mayoral candidate, believe that the mere presence of the chemical is cause for concern — and that it should be addressed at any financial cost.

“You’ve got to err on the side of safety, not economics,” Wachs concluded.

See @:
http://www.greatdreams.com/chrm6.htm

Erin Brockovich — Chronic Litigant — on Social Good

California acts to limit pollutant targeted by Erin Brockovich

Thomas Girardi and Walter Lack “Foundation for the Enrichment of the Law””Erin Brockovich”: The real story – Page 5

Since the official accounting of the money is secret, there’s no way to ascertain how much money was distributed to Hinkley residents short of a survey of all 650 clients in the case. Their suspicions aroused by the secrecy, many Hinkley residents want to know where the money went. (While Girardi would not comment for this article, he has been quoted in the Los Angeles Times contending that at least 50 Hinkley residents have written him to say that they didn’t want the disbursement made public — presumably because their awards were larger.)

Family members who’d experienced the same level, intensity and duration of chromium exposure received wildly different awards. The Gonzales family, for example, had lived close to the PG&E plant for 14 years; the father, who had a foot of his lower colon removed, received $100,000; his daughter Lydia, who has suffered skin problems, received $200,000; another daughter, Anita, who led one of the first groups of plaintiffs and who also lost some of her colon, received about $2 million; his son Daniel, who has suffered skin and other problems, received nothing. “His story wasn’t dramatic enough,” said his son Ron.

Residents were first told in the July 2, 1996, letter that their awards would be based on their medical records. Some residents say their medical records were never solicited. “But no one ever looked at my medical records,” said Smith. “I’m sure of that because my doctors told me so after I asked.” Other plaintiffs echoed the same complaint.

Otherwise, there was no mention of the criteria, formula or method by which the money would be divided. It was up to the arbitrators, Lack told his clients in a July 24, 1996, letter. “We are confident that by Aug. 15, 1996, the Judges will be in a position to announce all awards,” the letter said. “We have the utmost confidence that their awards will be fair to all parties concerned.”

Roberta Walker, who had started the case and was depicted in the movie as Donna Jensen, didn’t get the $5 million that her movie counterpart received. “It’s a big fabrication,” said Walker. “People look at $333 million and think, ‘Wow! You got that much money?’ But no.”

Nola Wetterman, who has suffered miscarriages and back problems, received many millions of dollars, sources say. Wetterman herself says it’s about $1 million.

Another older ill resident was awarded about $25,000. “He blew up at one of the attorneys, who didn’t like his attitude,” said Tommy Wetterman, Nola’s son. “He got a real bad deal.”

Pretty soon, fairly or not, some residents say they saw a pattern in the distribution method. “If you were buddies with Ed and Erin, you got a lot of money,” said Smith. “Otherwise, forget it.”

Residents also were confused about the high fees charged to the town’s 100 children. According to the California Code of Civil Procedure, the California Probate Code and case law, attorneys may take only 25 percent of the settlement money given to minors. The arbitrators allowed the attorneys to take 33-and-a-third percent.

“We were livid when we found that out,” said Smith.

Apparently, the plaintiffs’ attorneys and JAMS’s Trotter had decided that any minor who turned 18 during 1996 would be treated as an adult, according to a number of townspeople. That meant that at least three Hinkley teens whose 18th birthdays fell in calendar year 1996 were charged at the higher 40 percent rate.

When the money did come, some residents tried to complain about what they felt were unfair amounts, but they were put off. “We didn’t even get to talk to Erin and she’s the one who got us mixed up in this thing,” said Smith. Some wanted to contest the awards, but were discouraged. “We were told if we appealed the settlement, we’d get less money,” said Ron Gonzales. “It was essentially a threat.”

One plaintiff, Muriel Marcum, tried to explain to her attorneys that her medical condition merited more money. But Lack wrote back, saying he was “disgusted by such a statement, which betrays your utter lack of knowledge … The symptoms you have suffered … could be related to any number of causative events.”

Those bold enough to actually contest their awards had to pay extra. “The Judges will be charging you by the hour for handling these appeals and the charges will be deducted from your recovery,” Lack told his clients in the July 24, 1996, letter. The judges heard some of the appeals in Lack’s office, a two-hour drive from Hinkley. “If you miss your appointment, you will be charged anyway,” the letter informed clients.

One resident who did appeal was Gonzales. He was given an award of $100,000, but appealed on the grounds that he deserved more. “Ten minutes later, one of the judges offered me $250,000.” The appeal cost him $21,000 in arbitration fees.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

In the summer of 1997 — while some of the residents of Hinkley were still fuming over what they regarded as paltry checks — Girardi and Lack, flush from their winnings and wanting to “give something back” to the California legal community, organized a weeklong Mediterranean cruise for 90 people, including 11 public and private judges. The three PG&E arbitrators were among those invited.

One judge called it “absolutely incredible.” A luxury yacht floated on azure waters; tuxedoed butlers balanced silver trays of free champagne; young bikini-clad ladies frolicked on the sun-splashed deck, according to retired Judge Schoettler, who was a guest. As another bare-chested judge remarked at the time: “This gives decadence a bad name.”

The cruise was organized under the banner of Girardi and Lack’s Foundation for the Enrichment of the Law. Girardi told the Los Angeles Times that the cruise included “an extensive professional program.” The cost was about $3,000 per person, about half the normal rate; Girardi told the Times he and Lack had received a discount for chartering the entire Cunard cruise ship. After some confusion, all of the judges on the trip paid their way, save two unrelated to the PG&E case who were invited to lecture.

The public judges claimed the cruise had been an educational seminar, allowable under both state and federal judicial rules. But Schoettler said no one he knew attended a lecture. The fact that the three PG&E judges accepted the discounted cruise from the attorneys whom they had just enriched is one reason Chief Justice George instigated a study into the business of arbitration.

The study, completed in September 1999, recommended that arbitrators disclose their relationships with parties before them, and refrain from accepting gifts from those who come before them.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Meanwhile, the PG&E plaintiffs grew increasingly disenchanted with the case. Roberta Walker regrets that she ever agreed to arbitration. “I wanted it to go to court. I wanted a jury to decide it.” She believes that if that had happened, PG&E’s executives might have gone to jail “for murder, for lying, for destroying the lives of thousands of people,” she said. She added that she doesn’t begrudge her attorneys their fees, but wishes that the settlement had provided her and her family free medical coverage for life.

But some of her neighbors had grown disgusted with their lawyers. “I feel like I was treated like a country hick that didn’t understand plain English,” said Tindell. “We are the ones who made those guys zillionaires.” Some residents began to take their cases to at least four other attorneys for help.

One of those was Michael Dolan, who runs a one-man practice in Bakersfield. He talked to 81 of the plaintiffs and found they received, on average, $152,000. That too fueled speculation among the town’s residents about who had gotten the money. But before Dolan took any action, Girardi, Lack and Masry went on the offensive. On June 22, 1998, the three filed a suit against Dolan. They claimed Dolan slandered them when he told Hinkley plaintiffs they had a right to sue Girardi, Lack and Masry for malpractice over the too-high minors fee, among other issues. The attorneys also charged that Dolan had interfered with their business relationship with the clients.

The suit landed on the front page of the Los Angeles Daily Journal, a legal paper, two days later. In his defense, Girardi claimed that the minors’ higher fee had been approved by arbitrator Trotter, and therefore was permissible. But under California law, a Superior Court judge had to approve the higher fees charged to the minors.

According to the PG&E settlement signed by lawyers on both sides, the settlement would not be final until a Superior Court judge approved certain aspects of the case. Dolan and others say that has not yet happened. In an interview, arbitrator Goertzen said that he assumed a Superior Court judge approved everything, since it was required.

The slander case against Dolan didn’t last long. Two weeks later, on July 7, 1998, the three attorneys quietly dropped the suit. But talk in Hinkley about the case continued. This prompted Masry to sue Dolan again in August 1998. When Dolan moved to depose Masry as part of the open court proceedings, Masry again dropped the suit, in March 1999.

The following month, Girardi, Masry and Lack refunded some money to the minors who had turned 18 in 1998. On April 26, 1999, the three wrote letters informing the teens that “computer errors” had generated incorrect awards. They added, “It is unclear under the law as to whether your fee should have charged as an adult or as a minor.” The attorneys enclosed checks amounting to the difference between 33-and-one-third percent and 40 percent, which totaled a few hundred thousand dollars, said Dolan.

The attorneys also steered some clients with large awards toward certain financial planners, one of whom was Ed Masry’s son, Louis. In May 1996, a few months before PG&E settled, Louis Masry started his own company, Sunrise Financial Services, now located in the same building as his dad’s law firm. “I had met some of the people while my father represented them, but most of my clients came from referrals,” he said in an interview. Louis Masry now represents about 100 people from Hinkley.

Girardi, Lack and Masry appeared on television shows and in newspaper stories, discussing their victory against PG&E. Yet, the attorneys repeatedly warned their clients not to talk to the press or even share information among themselves. “We again strongly urge you not to discuss your awards with anyone other than immediate family members,” the three wrote on July 24, 1996. They also said in the same letter that PG&E had the right to sue the residents if they violated the confidentiality of the agreement; a PG&E attorney was later quoted in the Los Angeles Times saying that was “ridiculous.”

Around the same time, Brockovich was arranging to sell her “true story” to Hollywood for about $100,000, according to Brockovich. With the aid of Girardi and Lack, “Universal [the movie studio] actually got ahold of the trial transcripts under a court order,” Brockovich said during an interview.

“What’s Universal got to do with this case?” asks Hinkley resident Smith. “And how come we never got a copy?”

When the studio released “Erin Brockovich” last month, Lack and Masry started fielding calls from potential clients around the country who had seen their names roll by in the film’s credits, under a “Special Thanks” heading. The three attorneys are now mounting similar cases against PG&E on behalf of townspeople in other Southwestern backwater towns.

All of which raises questions about this type of justice. “Obviously, there is something broken with our system,” said Robin Lossing of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. Once the attorneys take out their enormous fee, there’s not much left for the plaintiffs, she said. “This is a lawyer-run lottery system. Who really pays for this? Consumers do.”

Indeed, one could argue that California taxpayers are already paying for it. A few months after PG&E settled the Hinkley case, in October 1996, the California Legislature gave the utility $500 million to improve the “safety and reliability” of its distribution system. And if Masry, Lack and Girardi get their way, PG&E may pay them even more money in future cases — without any way for the public to understand how or why.

Thomas Girardi and Walter Lack “Foundation for the Enrichment of the Law””Erin Brockovich”: The real story – Page 5

Since the official accounting of the money is secret, there’s no way to ascertain how much money was distributed to Hinkley residents short of a survey of all 650 clients in the case. Their suspicions aroused by the secrecy, many Hinkley residents want to know where the money went. (While Girardi would not comment for this article, he has been quoted in the Los Angeles Times contending that at least 50 Hinkley residents have written him to say that they didn’t want the disbursement made public — presumably because their awards were larger.)

Family members who’d experienced the same level, intensity and duration of chromium exposure received wildly different awards. The Gonzales family, for example, had lived close to the PG&E plant for 14 years; the father, who had a foot of his lower colon removed, received $100,000; his daughter Lydia, who has suffered skin problems, received $200,000; another daughter, Anita, who led one of the first groups of plaintiffs and who also lost some of her colon, received about $2 million; his son Daniel, who has suffered skin and other problems, received nothing. “His story wasn’t dramatic enough,” said his son Ron.

Residents were first told in the July 2, 1996, letter that their awards would be based on their medical records. Some residents say their medical records were never solicited. “But no one ever looked at my medical records,” said Smith. “I’m sure of that because my doctors told me so after I asked.” Other plaintiffs echoed the same complaint.

Otherwise, there was no mention of the criteria, formula or method by which the money would be divided. It was up to the arbitrators, Lack told his clients in a July 24, 1996, letter. “We are confident that by Aug. 15, 1996, the Judges will be in a position to announce all awards,” the letter said. “We have the utmost confidence that their awards will be fair to all parties concerned.”

Roberta Walker, who had started the case and was depicted in the movie as Donna Jensen, didn’t get the $5 million that her movie counterpart received. “It’s a big fabrication,” said Walker. “People look at $333 million and think, ‘Wow! You got that much money?’ But no.”

Nola Wetterman, who has suffered miscarriages and back problems, received many millions of dollars, sources say. Wetterman herself says it’s about $1 million.

Another older ill resident was awarded about $25,000. “He blew up at one of the attorneys, who didn’t like his attitude,” said Tommy Wetterman, Nola’s son. “He got a real bad deal.”

Pretty soon, fairly or not, some residents say they saw a pattern in the distribution method. “If you were buddies with Ed and Erin, you got a lot of money,” said Smith. “Otherwise, forget it.”

Residents also were confused about the high fees charged to the town’s 100 children. According to the California Code of Civil Procedure, the California Probate Code and case law, attorneys may take only 25 percent of the settlement money given to minors. The arbitrators allowed the attorneys to take 33-and-a-third percent.

“We were livid when we found that out,” said Smith.

Apparently, the plaintiffs’ attorneys and JAMS’s Trotter had decided that any minor who turned 18 during 1996 would be treated as an adult, according to a number of townspeople. That meant that at least three Hinkley teens whose 18th birthdays fell in calendar year 1996 were charged at the higher 40 percent rate.

When the money did come, some residents tried to complain about what they felt were unfair amounts, but they were put off. “We didn’t even get to talk to Erin and she’s the one who got us mixed up in this thing,” said Smith. Some wanted to contest the awards, but were discouraged. “We were told if we appealed the settlement, we’d get less money,” said Ron Gonzales. “It was essentially a threat.”

One plaintiff, Muriel Marcum, tried to explain to her attorneys that her medical condition merited more money. But Lack wrote back, saying he was “disgusted by such a statement, which betrays your utter lack of knowledge … The symptoms you have suffered … could be related to any number of causative events.”

Those bold enough to actually contest their awards had to pay extra. “The Judges will be charging you by the hour for handling these appeals and the charges will be deducted from your recovery,” Lack told his clients in the July 24, 1996, letter. The judges heard some of the appeals in Lack’s office, a two-hour drive from Hinkley. “If you miss your appointment, you will be charged anyway,” the letter informed clients.

One resident who did appeal was Gonzales. He was given an award of $100,000, but appealed on the grounds that he deserved more. “Ten minutes later, one of the judges offered me $250,000.” The appeal cost him $21,000 in arbitration fees.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

In the summer of 1997 — while some of the residents of Hinkley were still fuming over what they regarded as paltry checks — Girardi and Lack, flush from their winnings and wanting to “give something back” to the California legal community, organized a weeklong Mediterranean cruise for 90 people, including 11 public and private judges. The three PG&E arbitrators were among those invited.

One judge called it “absolutely incredible.” A luxury yacht floated on azure waters; tuxedoed butlers balanced silver trays of free champagne; young bikini-clad ladies frolicked on the sun-splashed deck, according to retired Judge Schoettler, who was a guest. As another bare-chested judge remarked at the time: “This gives decadence a bad name.”

The cruise was organized under the banner of Girardi and Lack’s Foundation for the Enrichment of the Law. Girardi told the Los Angeles Times that the cruise included “an extensive professional program.” The cost was about $3,000 per person, about half the normal rate; Girardi told the Times he and Lack had received a discount for chartering the entire Cunard cruise ship. After some confusion, all of the judges on the trip paid their way, save two unrelated to the PG&E case who were invited to lecture.

The public judges claimed the cruise had been an educational seminar, allowable under both state and federal judicial rules. But Schoettler said no one he knew attended a lecture. The fact that the three PG&E judges accepted the discounted cruise from the attorneys whom they had just enriched is one reason Chief Justice George instigated a study into the business of arbitration.

The study, completed in September 1999, recommended that arbitrators disclose their relationships with parties before them, and refrain from accepting gifts from those who come before them.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Meanwhile, the PG&E plaintiffs grew increasingly disenchanted with the case. Roberta Walker regrets that she ever agreed to arbitration. “I wanted it to go to court. I wanted a jury to decide it.” She believes that if that had happened, PG&E’s executives might have gone to jail “for murder, for lying, for destroying the lives of thousands of people,” she said. She added that she doesn’t begrudge her attorneys their fees, but wishes that the settlement had provided her and her family free medical coverage for life.

But some of her neighbors had grown disgusted with their lawyers. “I feel like I was treated like a country hick that didn’t understand plain English,” said Tindell. “We are the ones who made those guys zillionaires.” Some residents began to take their cases to at least four other attorneys for help.

One of those was Michael Dolan, who runs a one-man practice in Bakersfield. He talked to 81 of the plaintiffs and found they received, on average, $152,000. That too fueled speculation among the town’s residents about who had gotten the money. But before Dolan took any action, Girardi, Lack and Masry went on the offensive. On June 22, 1998, the three filed a suit against Dolan. They claimed Dolan slandered them when he told Hinkley plaintiffs they had a right to sue Girardi, Lack and Masry for malpractice over the too-high minors fee, among other issues. The attorneys also charged that Dolan had interfered with their business relationship with the clients.

The suit landed on the front page of the Los Angeles Daily Journal, a legal paper, two days later. In his defense, Girardi claimed that the minors’ higher fee had been approved by arbitrator Trotter, and therefore was permissible. But under California law, a Superior Court judge had to approve the higher fees charged to the minors.

According to the PG&E settlement signed by lawyers on both sides, the settlement would not be final until a Superior Court judge approved certain aspects of the case. Dolan and others say that has not yet happened. In an interview, arbitrator Goertzen said that he assumed a Superior Court judge approved everything, since it was required.

The slander case against Dolan didn’t last long. Two weeks later, on July 7, 1998, the three attorneys quietly dropped the suit. But talk in Hinkley about the case continued. This prompted Masry to sue Dolan again in August 1998. When Dolan moved to depose Masry as part of the open court proceedings, Masry again dropped the suit, in March 1999.

The following month, Girardi, Masry and Lack refunded some money to the minors who had turned 18 in 1998. On April 26, 1999, the three wrote letters informing the teens that “computer errors” had generated incorrect awards. They added, “It is unclear under the law as to whether your fee should have charged as an adult or as a minor.” The attorneys enclosed checks amounting to the difference between 33-and-one-third percent and 40 percent, which totaled a few hundred thousand dollars, said Dolan.

The attorneys also steered some clients with large awards toward certain financial planners, one of whom was Ed Masry’s son, Louis. In May 1996, a few months before PG&E settled, Louis Masry started his own company, Sunrise Financial Services, now located in the same building as his dad’s law firm. “I had met some of the people while my father represented them, but most of my clients came from referrals,” he said in an interview. Louis Masry now represents about 100 people from Hinkley.

Girardi, Lack and Masry appeared on television shows and in newspaper stories, discussing their victory against PG&E. Yet, the attorneys repeatedly warned their clients not to talk to the press or even share information among themselves. “We again strongly urge you not to discuss your awards with anyone other than immediate family members,” the three wrote on July 24, 1996. They also said in the same letter that PG&E had the right to sue the residents if they violated the confidentiality of the agreement; a PG&E attorney was later quoted in the Los Angeles Times saying that was “ridiculous.”

Around the same time, Brockovich was arranging to sell her “true story” to Hollywood for about $100,000, according to Brockovich. With the aid of Girardi and Lack, “Universal [the movie studio] actually got ahold of the trial transcripts under a court order,” Brockovich said during an interview.

“What’s Universal got to do with this case?” asks Hinkley resident Smith. “And how come we never got a copy?”

When the studio released “Erin Brockovich” last month, Lack and Masry started fielding calls from potential clients around the country who had seen their names roll by in the film’s credits, under a “Special Thanks” heading. The three attorneys are now mounting similar cases against PG&E on behalf of townspeople in other Southwestern backwater towns.

All of which raises questions about this type of justice. “Obviously, there is something broken with our system,” said Robin Lossing of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. Once the attorneys take out their enormous fee, there’s not much left for the plaintiffs, she said. “This is a lawyer-run lottery system. Who really pays for this? Consumers do.”

Indeed, one could argue that California taxpayers are already paying for it. A few months after PG&E settled the Hinkley case, in October 1996, the California Legislature gave the utility $500 million to improve the “safety and reliability” of its distribution system. And if Masry, Lack and Girardi get their way, PG&E may pay them even more money in future cases — without any way for the public to understand how or why.

Appeals court resuscitates Girardi Keese malpractice case

Thomson Reuters News & Insight
Their attorney was Thomas Girardi, the class-action lawyer portrayed in the movie "Erin Brockovich." Gutierrez alleged that the law firm took more than $20 …

http://newsandinsight.thomsonreuters.com/California/News/2011/04_-_April/Appe…

Appeals court resuscitates Girardi Keese malpractice case

Thomson Reuters News & Insight
Their attorney was Thomas Girardi, the class-action lawyer portrayed in the movie "Erin Brockovich." Gutierrez alleged that the law firm took more than $20 …

http://newsandinsight.thomsonreuters.com/California/News/2011/04_-_April/Appe…

Dear post! Get Yourself a cool, short @in.com Email ID now!

Amid New Revelations Mounting Concerns;TLR Predicts Robert Hawley New Executive Director

Erin Brockovich, a former legal secretary with with the firm of Masry
& Vitito, gained fame as the one who advocated against pollution by
Pacific Gas & Electric in the city of Hinkley, California. After noticing a pattern, while reviewing some of the files in the
office, she persuaded her boss, Ed Masry, to take look into the
possibility of suing PG & E. Masry agreed and joined forces with
the firm of Girardi & Keese and Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack. Ed Masry Erin - Copy
Erin Brockovich with the late Ed Masry (1932-2005) (Photo: Courtesy)

Brockovich gained fame when she was portrayed by Julia Roberts in the
movie “Erin Brockovich.” She (Erin, and not Julia…) was allegedly
paid $2 million dollar bonus for the PG & E suit. The majority of
the plaintiffs were unhappy with the settlement. Salon Magazine
published a detailed expose “Erin Brockovich”: The real story
http://tiny.cc/52of5

Today, Brockovich resides in New York City and is the president of
Brockovich Research & Consulting. She is currently working as a
consultant for Girardi & Keese, the New York law firm Weitz &
Luxenberg, and Shine Lawyers in Brisbane Australia.

The suit against PG & E ended up in arbitration before judges from
JAMS. It is alleged that Thomas Girardi and Walter Lack were on
unusually friendly terms with some of the judges in the arbitration.

Mr. Lack
Mr Walter Lack, was described by Thomas Girardi as “The best lawyer in
Los Angeles, End of Report” has been suspended from practicing before
the Ninth Circuit for six months.

One judge had officiated at Girardi’s second wedding, another had flown
in Girardi’s Gulfstream to attend the World Series. Laurence Janssen, a
partner in the L.A. office of the Washington law firm Steptoe &
Johnson, told Sharp: “I became aware that I should absolutely stay away
from JAMS or its retired judges when it came to any dealing with Tom
Girardi …The common lore imparted to me was that it would be crazy to
get in front of any JAMS arbitration with Girardi.” See http://tiny.cc/486sy

Thomas Girardi
Mr. Thomas Girardi of Girardi & Keese

Girardi & Keese and Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack are not strangers
to TLR. In fact, TLR was the first to advance a complaint to the State
Bar of California against the two firms as result of the massive fraud
that took place in litigation against the Dole. See
http://tiny.cc/r7255. Recently, Erin Brockovich, developed a new passion and took it upon
herself to crusade against fraud and over-billing in the health-care
industry on behalf of the law-firms she works for. Generally, using her name and likeness, Erin is named as the lead
plaintiff in a “qui tam” suit, which is filed against a large
corporation such as a hospital or a medical clinic alleging that they
overcharge Medicare or engage in other unlawful activities that result
in an expense for Medicare.

For example, she was a named plaintiff in multiple “qui tam” suits that
alleged “Medicare Fraud” in actions that were filed in San Diego against
Scripps and Sharp, two health-care facilities in San Diego.
The suits in San Diego were filed by the Florida based firm of Wilkes
& McHugh through their Orange County satellite office. While in
other “qui tam” actions, Brockovich was represented by Girardi &
Keese. Almost all the suits were dismissed, as federal courts have
grown extremely hostile to them. The connections between the two law-office of Wilkes & McHugh and
Girardi & Keese to Erin Brockovich is well known and well
publicized. There is another human being with connections to those two law-firms. The connections between this individual with those two law firms,
however, is not as flashy and not as well-publicized as it in the case
of Erin Brockovich. His name is Ronald Norton Gottschalk.

Ronald Norton Gottschalk was and is a well-respected attorney. The
reason Ronald Norton Gottschalk was and is a well-respected attorney is because he is good. End of report.

Mr. Thomas Girardi of Girardi & Keese, who is known as the “King of
Class Action Lawsuits”, shared TRL’s opinion that Gottschalk is good.

Mr. Girardi thought so highly of Ronald Norton Gottschalk, that he had
allowed him to be the lead attorney in class-action suits in which the
plaintiffs were represented by both Girardi and Gottschalk.

Like Erin Brockovich, Ronald Norton Gottschalk, was also associated with
the firm of Wilkes & McHugh. As was the case with Girardi & Keese, Ronald Norton Gottschalk also
prosecuted class actions on behalf of plaintiffs alongside the firm of
Wilkes & McHugh.

As often happen, a conflict arose between Ronald Norton Gottschalk and
the two law firms. Unfortunately, Gottschalk presently does not represent anyone as he is
busy defending himself against charges of misconduct in the State Bar
Court. The two main allegations of misconduct which Ronald Norton Gottschalk
allegedly committed involve misconduct which took place in the cases
which he prosecuted alongside the firms of Girardi & Keese, and
Wilkes & McHugh which resulted in a conflict between Gottschalk and
Girardi & Keese and Wilkes & McHugh. This is a serious concern
to TLR, and it should also be a concern to you.

The president of the State bar of California is a shareholder in one of
those firms. His name is Howard Miller, and the name of the firm is
Girardi & Keese.

Presiding over the case is Judge Patrice McElroy. Ronald Norton Gottschalk is represented by a 30-year member of the State
Bar, Mr. Stanley Arouty. In a sworn deceleration, Mr. Arouty alleged
that McElroy had intentionally engaged in destruction and spoliation of
evidence for the purpose of harming his client.
Mr. Howard Miller
Is Howard Miller looking the other way? Howard Miller, the current
president of the State of California, is a partner with the Law Offices
of Girardi & Keese.

McElroy - Copy
Judge McElroy, who has been accused of spoliation of evidence.

One of the set of facts which gave rise to the prosecution of Ronald
Gottschalk in the State Bar Court is a suit in which Gottschalk served
as a lead counsel in a class action, along with Thomas Girardi and John
Tiedt.(Mohr/Chaney Matter)

The litigation involved injuries suffered by plaintiffs who digested
nutritional supplements that were contaminated with Warfarin, a common
pesticide. The prosecution of the class action by Gottschalk, Girardi,
and Tiedt ended when a conflict erupted between Girardi and Gottschalk
over trial tactics, a conflict which was later compounded when both
tried to walk away with the largest number of plaintiffs on their side. The second set of facts which gave rise to the prosecution of Gottschalk
involves an action involving the firm of Wilkes & McHugh in which
along with Ronald Gottschalk were involved in a suit against a nursing
home (The Weemes Matter).

TLR asks?

Was and is Ronald Norton Gottschalk being intentionally framed due to
past conflicts with Girardi & Keese and Wilkes & McHugh ? Alternatively, is Gottschalk a victim of garden-variety State Bar
misconduct? Assuming Gottschalk engaged in misconduct, is he entitled to a fair
trial with an impartial judge and an impartial prosecutor? Alternatively, should State Bar prosecutors and judges be above the law?
Should they be given a license to commit misconduct?

What is the role of the president of the State Bar? In case a charge of
misconduct is leveled against McElroy (as in the Gottschalk case) Is Mr. Miller involvement in various official proceedings the Board of
Governors takes to defend McElroy (in a civil suit, for example)
presents any conflict of interest and self-dealing on the part of Howard Miller? Was it appropriate for the State Bar Court and the Office of the Chief
Trial Counsel to participate in the prosecution of Gottschalk, or should
a conflict been declared due to the involvement of Girardi & Keese
in the litigation for which Gottschalk is being prosecuted?

Was someone at the Office of Chief Trial Counsel (who had applied for
the position of Chief Trial Council) decided to prosecute Gottschalk
with extra vigor and aggression in hope of impressing the president of
the State Bar, who recently had to select the next Chief Trial Council
from a pool of candidates?

No doubt, McElroy is aware of the animosity between Girardi and
Gottschalk–is she trying to impress Miller by being harsh on
Gottschalk? What motivated her to engage in the spoliation of evidence?
Is Stanley Arouty lying? Is Khana lying? Is Gottschalk lying? Were allegations of grave misconduct committed by McElroy in prior cases
were intentionally ignored in order to give McElroy the opportunity to
victimize Gottschalk?

TLR’s Investigation continues.

–TLR is currently also investigating any potential involvement of State
Bar of California Deputy Executive Director Robert Hawley in a
conspiracy for abstraction of justice in attempting to conceal the role
of Donald Steedman’s law-clerk in the leakage of confidential
information, and to otherwise protect Donald Steedman.

TLR has learned that the confidential information was leaked by a State
Bar employee, who at that time was also a law-student at Golden Gate
University, named Rachel Abelson.

Court documents provide that Rachel Abelson’s direct supervisor was
Donald Steedman. Later, Abelson also worked for the Office of General
Counsel where Mr. Robert Hawley was employed.

Shockingly, court documents provide that Abelson had claimed that she
has no knowledge as to who is Robert Hawley and that she never heard of
him.

TLR investigation shows that Robert Hawley was employed by both GGU and
the State Bar of California during the time Abelson had engaged in the
unlawful conduct. At this point, there is no evidence that Hawley engaged in any
wrongdoing. TLR previously reported that McElroy declined to allow for “Discovery”
to be re-opened in order for the respondent in the case to depose Abelson after he had managed to ascertain her identity. see
http://tiny.cc/o5ng9

State Bar of California Judy Johnson - Copy
Judy Johnson was ousted after Governor’s veto of State Bar bill (Photo:
Courtesy of Bar Journal)

Speaking of Mr. Hawley, TLR predicts he will be chosen as the new
executive director of the State Bar of California to replace Ms. Judy
Johnson

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