In one of those twists of fate that only seem to happen in fiction, Carla Santos Shamberg's appointment with her chiropractor became the catalyst for the making of a major motion picture. For it was while lying on her practitioner's table that she first heard about another patient, whose story seemed larger than life.
I couldn't believe it when my doctor told me about her friend Erin," says Ms. Shamberg. It seemed incredible that this twice-divorced woman with three young children, who had no money, no resources and no formal education, had single-handedly put this case together. I thought she seemed like the perfect role model for the new millennium."
Ms. Shamberg told her husband, Michael Shamberg, who along with Danny DeVito and Stacey Sher is partnered in Jersey Films, that she thought this would be a perfect story for their company to shepherd onto the screen.
Erin Brockovich, which serves as the first reteaming for the director, producers and studio since Out of Sight, one of the most acclaimed films of 1998, is a Cinderella story. The fact that one woman's passion could have such a positive effect on so many people around her, while at the same time completely transforming her life, is the ideal subject matter for the big screen.
"Erin is a very warm person and it is that aspect of her character that enabled her to get these families to trust her with intimate
stories about their lives," Ms. Shamberg says. "And through the support of Ed Masry, she was allowed to follow her instinct with this case.
At the time Erin and Ed met, the lawyer was winding down his career and was looking forward to retirement. "And then this girl walked in and everything changed," says Ms. Shamberg.
In 1993, Erin and Ed put together over 600 plaintiffs and partnering with a powerhouse law firm, went after PG&E. a $30 billion company. As a result of their efforts. PG&E settled with the plaintiffs for $333 million, the largest settlement ever paid in a direct-action lawsuit in U.S. history.
"Ed and Erin's differences made them a perfect team," Ms. Shamberg continues. "Ed had the legal expertise and experience."
The fact that Erin Brockovich wasn't a lawyer and didn't have any formal education or experience as a law clerk or a paralegal, made her victory that much more impressive.
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