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Ethical Issues Within the Movie "Erin Brockovich"

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Weston Linder

on 19 November 2013

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Transcript of Ethical Issues Within the Movie "Erin Brockovich"

Chromium contamination
PG&E told the town of Hinkley, CA they were using Chromium III instead of Chromium IV
Symptoms of X6 are never ending- chronic headaches, nosebleeds, respiratory disease, liver failure, heart failure, reproductive failure, cancer, etc.
PG&E were paying resident's medical bills for doctors working with them to cover up the damage caused by their use of X6
After the court decided PG&E was at fault, they tried to settle with all plaintiffs for a total of $20 million
It wasn't until late in the case that proof of PG&E corporate's knowledge of the X6 problem which resulted in a much larger settlement
Hexavalent Chromium vs. Chromium III
Chromium Contamination
Purpose of the chromium was to prevent corrosion when water is used to cool down the machines used in the factory
PG&E dumped the excess water into ponds- but skipped the ethical choice to line the ponds first to prevent contamination
Water for the town became contaminated and had major medical effects to over 600 people
Water tests show Hinkley's water contained .58 ppm compared to legal limit of .05
PG&E orders employees to destroy documents about chromium contamination. Including a memo from PG&E corporate telling the plant to cover-up
PG&E payed doctor bills for residents that live nearby to the plant to portray a positive image for the company to the residents.
PG&E started to purchase property from nearby residents to prevent the awareness of the chromium pollution.
PG&E invited residents to the plant to give them a seminar about chromium 3 when they were using chromium 6.
Water Contamination
PG&E's tried to cover-up chromium pollution in Hinkeley CA
Classroom Concepts
Plot Summary
Ethical Issues Within the Movie "Erin Brockovich"
Based on a true story. Revoloves around a woman named Erin Brockovich (go figure)
Erin is a finacially troubled single mother of three that eventually manages to get a job at a law firm
Erin's main objective in the movie is to uncover and expose the unethical practices taking place at PG&E
PG&E's main unethical practice was its use of an extremely harmful variation of chromium
This lack of social responsibility was amplified by the company's attempts to cover up evidence of chromium use and its effects
Erin decided to represent all of the people who were affected by PG&E's negligence
In the film's resolution, Erin is successful in getting justice for PG&E's victims, winning a lawsuit that had over 600 plaintiffs
The total settlement amount was $333 million for the plaintiffs along with Erin earning a nice bonus of $2 million
Time Management
Dress Code
Meeting Etiquette

Settlement awarded to the plaintiffs in the case of Hinkley vs. PG&E was the largest in a direct-action lawsuit in the United States history
PG&E claims they no longer use hexavalent chromium in any of their compressor plants and that all of their holding ponds are lined to prevent groundwater contamination
Erin and Ed have seven other cases pending, including one against PG&E regarding a plant in Kettleman Hills, CA
One of the main themes of our textbook is social responsibility, which is discussed mainly in chapter two but is touched on throughout the text. PG&E displayed a total lack of social responsibility with its use of the hexavalent chromium. PG&E disregarded the extremely harmful effects the chemical could have on its stakeholders, the Hinkley residents.
Also, in the film, Erin partakes in some abusive/intimidating behavior outlined in chapter three. She routinely bullies the legal assistant at the law firm. She also uses some obscene language and shouting, which created a bit of a hostile work environment.
In addition, Erin uses extortion to a degree to get what she wants from her boss. Extortion is identified in chapter ten as an unethical business practice.
PG&E's practices violated environmental laws that were outlined in chapter four.

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