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Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Southwest Louisiana ,
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Brockovich gets involved with Assumption sinkhole

Last Modified: Wednesday, March 06, 2013 10:49 AM

NAPOLEONVILLE (AP) — Environmental activist Erin Brockovich and a California attorney hired by a group of Assumption Parish residents are coming to Pierre Part to discuss the legal options for residents evacuated from the Bayou Corne area due to a giant sinkhole.

Los Angeles personal injury lawyer Thomas V. Girardi tells The Advocate he and Brockovich will attend a community meeting Saturday at the American Legion Hall to answer residents' questions.

Girardi was one of the attorneys who worked with Brockovich to secure a $333 million settlement for 650 residents of Hinkley, Calif., in a groundwater pollution case. Actress Julia Roberts portrayed Brockovich in the 2000 film "Erin Brockovich," which chronicled that case.

The failure of a Texas Brine Co. LLC cavern is believed to be the cause of the sinkhole. About 350 residents remain under evacuation orders.

Girardi said he has not yet filed lawsuits for his 25 clients but will be filing soon.

"We are still looking into it," he said.

Five lawsuits were filed last year by residents and large landowners in state and federal court over the sinkhole.

Four of the cases have been consolidated in U.S. District Court in New Orleans before U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey.

On Feb. 22, Zainey moved a fifth case, which was filed originally in state court on behalf of large landholders, from federal court back to the 23rd Judicial District in Assumption.

A steering committee of plaintiff's attorneys led by Denham Springs lawyer Calvin Fayard Jr. has been established to help direct the federal litigation.

When asked about Girardi and Brockovich's planned visit, Texas Brine spokesman Sonny Cranch said the company had no comment.

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