Date: Fri, 5 Sep 2003 09:19:31 -0700
Cochran firm settles largest environmental lawsuit in U.S. History: $700
By Becky Blanton - Sierra Times.com
Erin Brockovich, eat your heart out.
The $700 million settlement between the national law firm of Cochran,
Cherry, Givens, & Smith, P.C. and defendants Monsanto, Pharmacia and
Solutia, Inc. has made the suit the largest environmental case ever
settled in U.S. History - double the monetary settlement in the famous
environmental pollution case which was highlighted in the motion picture
In a landmark environmental case involving more than 18,000 plaintiffs
in Anniston, Alabama, the case was settled in less than two years - and
the terms announced on August 21.
After a decade of controversy the dispute involving pollution from a
chemical plant in the east Alabama city and the residents is over and
only the clean-up and disbursement of funds remains.
The settlement avoided a federal trial that was scheduled to begin on
According to attorneys with the Cochran firm, the suit involved the use
of PCB as insulators in certain equipment that in turn was subsequently
banned when linked to a range of health problems, including cancer.
Alabama residents are happy, but attorneys Johnnie L. Cochran, senior
partner in the law firm, and law partner Jock Smith, are ecstatic.
Cochran said, "I practice law because I like to comfort the afflicted
and afflict the comfortable."
In one fell swoop he achieved that - more than setting a world record
for afflicting the comfortable while comforting the residents of an
entire town. Smith, who has won multiple lawsuits for awards over $1
million dollars, was equally pleased.
A Christian, Smith said, "By this settlement we have carried out Jesus'
cry in Matthew, chapter 25 to serve and care for the 'least of these.'"
The least of these have indeed been blessed.
According to Cochran and Smith, $600 million in cash will be paid by the
companies. Monsanto Company will pay $390 million, Solutia, Inc. will
pay $50 million and the balance will come out of the coffers of their
insurance companies. In addition, the settlement will include the
establishment of a clinic that will provide free prescription
medication, health screening and a Pfizer drug program.
According to Cochran, and Smith, the cost of the clean-up for the
community is expected to push the total settlement cost to $800 million.
"The settlement is a result of our efforts to fulfill those promises we
made to the thousands of Anniston residents we met with two years ago,"
said attorney Keith Givens.
"This case was truly a labor of love, as we had vowed to do what we
could to help clean up the Anniston, Alabama community," said Cochran.
Together, the men issued a statement about the case which summed up
their feelings, "We are blessed and happy again to be on the cutting
edge in our profession in representing the downtrodden and victims of