PG&E settles contamination lawsuit

Pacific Gas and Electric Company has settled another lawsuit out of court linked to groundwater contamination in the desert town of Hinkley.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company has settled another lawsuit out of court linked to groundwater contamination in the desert town of Hinkley.

The scandal was chronicled in the hit movie "Erin Brockovich."

There were scores of people who were left out of the lawsuit brought against the utility by the L.A. attorneys Brockovich worked for.

More than 100 additional plaintiffs were represented by a team of Bakersfield attorneys. In a mass tort lawsuit filed eight years ago.

In the movie and in reality, Erin Brockovich investigated and validated allegations that PG&E poisoned the groundwater beneath the town of Hinkley, California with chromium six, and lied about it.

Hinkley is about 120 miles southeast of Bakersfield.

What the movie didn't tell us was the fact that when pg&e agreed to settle that 1994 class action lawsuit, scores of potential plaintiffs missed the boat.

Including Lynn Morris' two children.

We interviewed Morris in the summer of 2000.

Justice has arrived for an additional 104 plaintiffs.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company has settled their mass tort lawsuit out of court for $24.3 million.

The case was brought by Bakersfield attorneys Steve Wainer, Michael Dolan and Tom Anton.

It took eight years to get the utility to settle.

Several of Michael Dolan's plaintiffs actually died from complications of their exposure to chromium six since the lawsuit was filed.

Dolan said at a settlement conference, a los angeles judge advised PG&E against letting the case go to a jury trial after reviewing a binder, full of internal memos from PG&E executives, dating back to the late 1950's. It showed they knew about the groundwater contamination in Hinkley, but covered it up.

One memo even says if the company does decide to publicly disclose the contamination, they should wait until after a proposed rate increase is approved, to protect their shareholders profits.

Steve Wainer was brought into the case in 2004 to handle responses to defense motions made by the utility.

Lawyers for PG&E did not return phone calls for comment.

According to the Bakersfield legal team, Pacific Gas and Electric Company has paid out more than $600 million in settlements linked to four separate lawsuits filed by residents of Hinkley.



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