Posts Tagged ‘Erin Brockovich’

Update: Erin Brockovich vs. Beverly Hills High School

After the glamourpuss tort-chaser’s campaign over environmental contamination at the high school met with one reverse after another in court, ending in a judicial ruling of no merit, plaintiff’s lawyers have now agreed to reimburse the city and school district of Beverly Hills for a not insignificant chunk of their legal expenses in defending the claims, in the sum of $450,000. As readers of this site know, prevailing defendants very seldom recover fees from losing plaintiffs or their lawyers in American litigation. The Civil Justice Association of California has details (Oct. 9).

This summer Viking published a book by journalist Joy Horowitz entitled Parts Per Million: The Poisoning of Beverly Hills High School which, as its subtitle implies, would appear to place much credence in the lawsuits’ claims of disease causation from oil wells on the high school campus (undated L.A. Times review by Robin Abcarian). For the side of the story that proved more convincing to the courts, see the work of Norma Zager and Eric Umansky here and here as well as this article in Time. Brockovich herself, incidentally, now has a blog of her own.

Update: Brockovich Beverly Hills case

A further stinging rebuff in court for the glamourpuss tort-chaser: “A judge on Friday dropped the Beverly Hills Unified School District from a lawsuit that claims an oil well on a high school campus caused cancer in former students. Superior Court Judge Wendell Mortimer Jr. said he was not persuaded that the well operating for decades at Beverly Hills High was a danger. He also found no evidence that the school district was aware of any danger.” (“Beverly Hills schools dropped from lawsuit over campus oil well”, AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, Mar. 23). For more on the Beverly Hills case, see Mar. 16, 2004, Nov. 3, 2005, and Dec. 1, 2006. For Brockovich’s rebuffs in Medicare-billing cases, see Mar. 15, etc.

Another Brockovich Medicare suit dismissed

This time it’s the federal court for the Eastern District of Tennessee that’s sent the glamourpuss bounty-hunter packing:

Plaintiff and his associate Erin Brockovich have filed 49 nearly identical complaints in jurisdictions across the country. Kris Hundley, Brockovich Teams Up With Local Firm, St. Petersburg Times, Dec. 21, 2006. Many of these complaints have already been dismissed . . .

Roy F. Harmon III at Health Plan Law explains why this one failed too (Mar. 13). For more, see Jun. 22 and Nov. 18, 2006 as well as, on the general Brockovich phenomenon, my October 2000 treatment in Reason.

January 19 roundup

  • New legislation aimed at regulating “grassroots lobbying”: will it hit political bloggers? (Answer: apparently not.) [McCullagh, Hardy, Sullum, Bainbridge, Reynolds]

  • Upper East Side merchant sues vagrants whose cardboard-box loitering ruins his location [NYSun, NYTimes]

  • “People probably aren’t thinking about potential legal liability when they’re having casual sex,” says lawprof about new Calif. trend of spousal VD suits [KEYE-TV via KevinMD]

  • “Devious, dissembling, dodgy. And that’s just the police”. Theodore Dalrymple on UK criminal justice [Times Online]

  • Daniel Boulud of restaurant fame, targeted by lawsuit campaign, says he won’t pay to make worker advocates go away [NYTimes]

  • Erin Brockovich on the warpath against recycling facility in Apple Valley, Calif. [Fumento/TCS]

  • As a lawyer, Pres. John Adams represented Redcoats after Boston Massacre; what would he say about Guantanamo flap? [NYSun editorial]

  • Nearly all radiologists frustrated with practice, liability is top reason []

  • Duke profs who egged on lynch mob in bogus rape case stand on melting ice floe of credibility [Reynolds, Althouse, Podhoretz, Bainbridge here and here, Allen]

  • Ringling Bros. trainee says clown college was harder to get into than law school [Five years ago on Overlawyered]


Recent developments on past stories:

* Remember Shannon Peterson, the Denver condo owner who got sued by a neighbor who complained that she was taking baths too early? (Feb. 27). The case is still dragging on the better part of a year later, a judge having refused so far to throw it out. David Giacalone has the details (Nov. 30).

* Glamourpuss lawsuit-chaser Erin Brockovich, fresh from the humiliating dismissal (Nov. 18) of suits she fronted against California hospitals alleging Medicare overbilling, has been rebuffed in another high-profile case. This time a judge has dismissed twelve lawsuits brought by her law firm of Masry & Vititoe alleging that exposure to oil rigs at Beverly Hills High School caused cancer among students there (Martha Groves and Jessica Garrison, “School oil-rig lawsuits dismissed”, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 23) (via Nordberg who got it from Legal Reader). For more on the case, see Jul. 15 and Nov. 19, 2003, and Mar. 16, 2004. The New Republic has marked the occasion by reprinting its revealing 2003 article on the affair by Eric Umansky. P.S. More from Umansky, who has his own blog, here.

* Reader E.B. writes in to say:

Remember the group of parents (Oct. 23) who threatened litigation over their daughters’ playing time on the girl’s basketball team? The ones who demanded a six-person panel to oversee the selection of the players?

None of the parents’ daughters made the team. And they’re not happy about it. See C.W. Nevius, “Castro Valley hoops coach can’t win”, San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 30.

* A court has dismissed the action (Aug. 10, 2005; Feb. 9, Feb. 20, Mar. 6, Jun. 28, 2006) by fair housing activists against Craigslist over user ads that expressed improper preferences or mentioned forbidden categories in soliciting tenants, apartment-sharers and so forth. (Anne Broache, “Craigslist wins housing ad dispute”, CNet, Nov. 17). However, blawger David Fish says the court’s reasoning was highly unfavorable to many other Internet companies generally, and may expose them to future liabilities (Nov. 15). Craigslist now has an elaborate page warning users that it is unlawful for them to post preferences, etc. in most situations not involving shared living space. Update: David Fish’s name corrected, apologies for earlier error.

* 3 pm update to the updates from Ted: “An Illinois intermediate appellate court overturned the $27 million verdict in Mikolajczyk v. Ford (which we reported on last year), ordering the lower court to replace the arbitrary jury verdict with a lower arbitrary number. Why the jury’s damage award is considered the product of passion and prejudice, but the same jury’s liability award is kosher, remains unclear. (Steve Patterson, “Court says $27 million crash award too much”, Chicago Sun-Times, Nov. 23).”

Update: “Brockovich’s Medicare-billing lawsuits tossed”

Glamor proved no substitute for legal merit as U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan in San Diego dismissed two lawsuits by the highly publicized Brockovich against major hospital chains, alleging that the chains should refund to Medicare sums spent on treating injuries caused by earlier hospital negligence (see Jun. 22). The suits “made no specific claims of patient injury” but instead proffered studies estimating the nationwide incidence of negligent patient injury in hospitals. The judge termed the claims “speculative allegations” intended to allow Brockovich and the lawyers for whom she was fronting to “begin a fishing expedition”. “The judge also noted that Brockovich, 46, was not eligible to receive Medicare benefits, was never treated at any of the Scripps or Sharp hospitals, and was never injured by hospital staff misconduct.” (Keith Darcé, San Diego Union-Tribune, Nov. 16). For more on Brockovich’s activities generally, follow links from Nov. 3, 2005.

“Erin Brockovich Takes Role as Plaintiff in Medicare Suits”

For those who never expected to see the words “glamourpuss” and “Medicare” in the same sentence: “The onetime legal assistant, whose environmental crusade against a utility company inspired a hit movie starring Julia Roberts, has lent her name as plaintiff in lawsuits against several California hospitals and convalescent homes.” Two law firms, including Wilkes & McHugh, have engaged Brockovich as the public face of bounty-hunting “whistleblower” suits pursuing the adventuresome theory that hospitals defraud the government by accepting Medicare reimbursement for further medical care occasioned by their own earlier errors, even when no legal process has yet determined the earlier medical decisions to have been erroneous. The “lawsuits do not involve specific allegations of wrongdoing “. Ms. Brockovich is managed by the William Morris talent agency. (Daniel Yi, Los Angeles Times, Jun. 7). For much more on her activities, follow links from Nov. 3, 2005. Update Nov. 18: federal judge in San Diego tosses two suits.

Erin Brockovich/Harvard School of Public Health update

The CJAC has an idea for the Harvard School of Public Health: rather than make an embarrassing decision to give a “Health Award” to the facile celebrity, why not give the award to Norma Zager, the Beverly Hills Courier reporter who exposed Erin Brockovich’s quackery? (May Habib, “Brockovich Awarded SPH’s Highest Honor”, Harvard Crimson, Oct. 19; Jessica Heslam, “Lawyer group protests award for `Erin Brockovich'”, Boston Herald, Oct. 18). Earlier coverage: Oct. 6 and especially Sep. 30 and links therein.

Errin’ on the airwaves

Tom Bray of the Detroit News weighs in on the controversy over the Harvard School of Public Health’s decision to give an award to Erin Brockovich (earlier: Sept. 30) and points out that the glamourpuss toxic-tort-chaser is making a push into TV:

She is listed as the executive producer of an upcoming NBC series titled “Class Action,” which will lionize a team of fictional plaintiff’s attorneys who specialize in class-action lawsuits.

(“Radical parody threatens environmental movement”, Oct. 2)(via Toxic Tort News).