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Part 2: Erin Brockovich Losing Ed Masry

published August 21, 2006

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As Erin and I chatted, she sipped her coffee from a mug her daughter gave her, which reads, "Gandhi—be the change you want to see in the world."

According to Brockovich, the big difference between Ed Masry and his partner Jim Vititoe and the majority of lawyers is that they, according to Brockovich, "saw outside of the box."

"A lot of lawyers get stuck within the confines of the law," said Brockovich. "The best lawyers see beyond the law. They can see a human aspect to it, and you have to see beyond the games that a big corporation and their experts will play."

With Masry and Brockovich working as a team, they discovered that nothing could stand in their way. However, before Hinkley case, life for Brockovich was rough.

"They left a couple of things out of the movie," explained Brockovich. "I had a really sick kid; and with only enough money for the essential groceries, there was nothing left for cough medicine. So, it was one of those little scenes where it's like, 'Oops, the cough medicine ended up in my bag.'"

"That is deplorable, I know," Brockovich said. "Sometimes out of desperation, things like that happen to people; and it's sad. During that time in my life, I felt very destitute."

When Brockovich began working on the Hinkley case, she was teeny-tiny. "I was a size 2 because I would not eat. All I ever had in the cupboards were mac and cheese and two hot dogs, which were gonna go to the kids," Brockovich stated. "Sometimes we have to make self-sacrifices in order to make things work."

According to Brockovich, fear is the driving force that keeps human beings from progressing. When Ed Masry passed away in December 2005, Brockovich felt a wide range of emotions, including fear.

"The problem with being fear-based is that you can be dominated and led to believe anything," explained Brockovich. "That is why I always keep the faith that things will work out. You have to believe that."

Since the death of her partner in crime, Brockovich said, "I had to rediscover some of my inner strengths that I was not paying close attention to," she sighed deeply, "because there was Ed."

"Ed and I had a unique dynamic, where we were almost in competition with each other," Brockovich laughingly said. "We were the perfect representation of the lady of justice—the scales of justice tipping one way. When Ed was up, I would not be so certain; and as I was coming up, he would tip and be not so certain. It became a constant balancing of the scales. I don't really have that with anyone anymore."

"Ever since Ed died, there has been a massive energy shift for me; and I see a change," said Brockovich.

During Masry's final days, Brockovich recalled his wife, Joette, on one side of the bed; and she and Ed's son, Louis Masry, were on the other side.

"The three of us stood there until he took his last breath, and it was peaceful," recalled Brockovich. "You know, I've always anticipated the death of my own father, who is now 85 years old, which is why I thought I would be prepared for Ed's death; but I cannot even put into words the pain I felt in my heart."

"I believe that our soul exists right there in the heart," Brockovich continued. "When Ed died, it went into my heart; and it hurt. I could not believe the pain I was feeling. Listen, this is not some Shirley MacLaine, dee-dee-dee-dee story. That man moved right through me."

"He went somewhere, and I felt uplifted," said Brockovich. "I could hear the monitor go, beeeeeeeeeeep; and at that moment, I thought, 'You know something that I don't.'"

"Where did you go?" Brockovich pondered.

After Masry's funeral, Brockovich realized that death no longer frightened her, as it had in the past. She continuously reiterated that she definitely does not have all the answers, nor does she pretend to. However, when Brockovich described herself, she said, "I'm like that feather at the end of the movie Forrest Gump. I'm floating along; and wherever it is that I'm supposed to be, I'm going to end up there."

"I know we all have ideas of religion, and I certainly don't know what is right or wrong in that regards; however, what I do know is that when Ed passed, the energy changed gears," explained Brockovich. "It's real. It moved through me, and I did not know that I was capable of experiencing such heartfelt sorrow. And I will miss him, but I must carry on."

Like a feather, Erin Brockovich will continue floating towards her fate, including the big case against Beverly Hills High School that she and Masry were preparing together, which is set to go to trial in the next few months.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Is The Real Ed Masry?

Edward Louis Masry born on July 29, 1932, was an American lawyer, as well as the mayor and city councilman of Thousand Oaks, California.

His parents were Syrian immigrants who owned a silk apparel business in Paterson, New Jersey. When he was eight years old, his family moved west to Southern California, settling first in Venice and then in Van Nuys.

Masry studied at L.A. Valley Junior College, UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, and USC, and served in the U.S. Army in France. Despite never receiving a Bachelor's degree, Loyola University in Los Angeles admitted him on an exemption based on high placement test scores, and he graduated with a Juris Doctor degree in 1960. Upon being admitted to the State Bar of California, he established a private practice in 1961.

Masry's law firm was instrumental in bringing the multi-plaintiff direct action lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Electric Company, alleging contamination of drinking water with hexavalent chromium in the Southern California town of Hinkley. A settlement of $333 million was reached in the case in 1996, creating a record for the largest direct-action settlement in American history.

Masry was portrayed by Albert Finney in the successful 2000 film Erin Brockovich. He had a non-speaking cameo appearance in the film as a restaurant patron sitting behind Julia Roberts, as did Erin Brockovich, who played a waitress in the movie Erin Brockovich.

Is Edward Masry Still Alive?

On December 5, 2005, at the age of 73, Edward Louis Masry died of complications related to diabetes at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks. In light of his medical condition, he resigned one week earlier from the Thousand Oaks City Council.

Who Is The Real Ed Masry In Erin Brockovich?

The flamboyantly pugnacious Edward L. Masry, portrayed by actor Albert Finney in the film Erin Brockovich and who won millions in a toxic pollution suit.

Erin Brockovich, a self-trained legal assistant, and Mr. Masry, a crotchety criminal and tort lawyer, filed a class-action suit against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company in 1993. In 1997, they, along with two large law firms, won a $333 million settlement for 648 residents of Hinkley, California.

The utility agreed to the largest settlement in private arbitration and never admitted that chromium emissions into Hinkley's water supply caused cancer and other health problems. However, the company took responsibility for the pollution.

Julia Roberts won the best actress for her portrayal of Ms. Brockovich, who attended the ceremony with Mr. Masry.

His brush with fame was not his first. The 44-year career of Mr. Masry included representation of politicians, judges, prostitutes, pimps, the actress Pamela Anderson, a television evangelist, and a stripper named Lucky Wynn. At the same time he began his crusade against Ms. Brockovich, he defended a marina owner accused of dumping toxic batteries into a lake.

During the late 1970s, in a tangled case involving a church, he kidnapped (his word) two children in Hong Kong and took them to Australia, which an American judge ruled was not a crime. This case involved him bribing California's attorney general with money stolen from the church. When the state sought the financial records of the church of evangelist Gene Scott, Mr. Masry defended it. Mr. Scott and Mr. Masry burned the order on television.

From criminal law cases to First Amendment cases, he took just about any case. When a neighbor called him to ask why Pacific Gas and Electric wanted so much for her house, which happened to be near where the chromium pollution occurred, he became aware of Hinkley.

Masry and Brockovich were soon signing up plaintiffs in Hinkley. By the time they had 47, they filed suit. They agreed to arbitrate in September 1994, with a $400 million cap on awards. The arbitrators awarded PG&E $133 million for the first 39 cases. Mr. Masry's firm received $40 million.

After serving as a city councilman in Thousand Oaks for one year, Mr. Masry became its mayor in 2000.

How Much Did Ed Masry Get?

Ed Masry, a New Jersey-born lawyer, and Ms. Brockovich, a brassy twice-divorced mother, who wangled a job as his file clerk and later became his legal assistant, were a perfect match. Together they waged the class-action suit on behalf of 648 residents of Hinkley, California, near Barstow, who alleged that PG&E; tanks had contaminated their water supply and caused them to get cancer and other illnesses.

When Brockovich discovered suspicious medical records in Masry's office among the real estate files, Masry was contemplating retirement. Masry accepted their case after she drove to the high desert to interview the residents.

PG&E, the world's largest utility, settled with the firm together with two other firms for $333 million. After being nearly bankrupted by the lengthy litigation, Masry's San Fernando Valley firm received a check for about $40 million. Masry moved the firm to Westlake Village, and the Consumer Attorneys of California named him Consumer Advocate of the Year.

Is Ed Masry Tom Girardi?

NO..! Ed Masry is not Tom Girardi.

Tom Girardi was once a celebrated lawyer who fought for the vulnerable and the oppressed before falling from grace. He gained this hero reputation through his involvement in the historic "Erin Brockovich case." Ed Masry and Erin Brockovich took on Pacific Gas and Electric Company for contaminating the groundwater in Hinkley, California in 1993. In 1996, the case was settled for $333 million, a record-breaking amount.

Check out LawCrossing next week for the inside scoop on what may be her biggest trial yet.

Click here for Part 3 of the Erin Brockovich story.

published August 21, 2006

( 1717 votes, average: 4.5 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.