This case stopped being about dead children as soon as it entered the justice system. Facher is not a bad guy, I think he is a pragmatist. He understands how the law works and he is masterful at manipulating it in order to further his clients interests. The way he prevented the families from testifying in court, in my opinion is not him beating the system but rather just the way the system works. Lawyers have to look at all angles and possibilities to earn their paycheck from their client.
He did so perfectly and is a brilliant lawyer though some people might call into question his ethics but that is a very grey area. Travolta’s character at first seemed the same as Fachner, but I think he acted ethically in helping the families fight for justice but to his dismay he learned the hard way that our system has the nice guys finishing last. He could have reached a settlement in the case but he tried to abide by the wishes of his clients in that they were not interested in money but rather an apology from someone claiming responsibility.
In that sense I think that his clients did not have a grasp on the way our legal system operates, and should have understood that the companies that polluted the river were interested in self preservation and do not give much mind to those people that they harmed. A side effect of this was the enormous cost of the trial was, especially to the law firm. The perception that people file lawsuits just to make easy money might not always hold true. Sometimes they might actually may just be seeking justice but as it is shown it can bankrupt you.
This misconception might be enhanced because people who might file and win these lawsuits might already be wealthy. As Travolta’s firm runs out of money they continue to give off the impression of wealth because that is what they need to do. They need to give that impression off so that the defendants know that they don’t have the plaintiffs shook, and if they think they do they will delay the trial longer and longer, to try and make it a war of attrition, one that they would ultimately win.
It is a way of litigating that is very effective especially if you have resources. In this sense the civil trial system fails the idea of justice severely. How are people wronged by these multimillion dollar companies supposed to go toe to toe with them? Its unfair and shows that its just a big chess game played by people who have the ability and resources to make a move. That is why public interest lawyers are usually paid the least because its hard to find someone who would give up a job for a private firm with a nice salary for a low income public job.
I don’t see how there can be a solution to this problem because it doesn’t seem right for the government to pay its lawyers so much more just so they don’t work for the competition when they could use that money towards other things that require the governments attention. Also even though the plaintiffs received monetary settlement they were disappointed same with the lawyers. The press reported it as a success though because they don’t see the context of the case.
Looking at it just by the numbers it seems that the company took a hit and justice has been achieved. But in reality the company paid to them what is considered a small fine just so they can make a nuisance go away. The plaintiffs were disappointed because they felt that someone should be held accountable for their negligence that killed their kids. Even though the company apologizes using their checkbook, it was not enough.
But once the EPA intervened and commanded that the company clean up their mess the plaintiffs finally gained a sense of peace. They were not in it for the money, they wanted the mess that killed their children to be cleaned up and it was. Also the companies were ordered to clean up the mess which cost them millions which serves as a just retribution I believe. The plaintiffs did not get what they wanted from the civil justice system but it did help the administrative agencies make a case against the companies to ultimately achieve their goals.
In that sense I think that maybe even though some parts of our legal system may be flawed, maybe in time we have measures set up to address the issues that slipped away the hands of justice in the courts. I think this because It was a huge shock when I saw the EPA come in and Save the day. It kind of restores my faith in our system when I realize that we have administrative agencies in place that can regulate and enforce rules for companies to follow so that they do not abuse their power and infringe on people’s liberties.