After finishing the movie, I realized there were quite a few things that I would have done differently from Jan Schickmann. The main thing I would have looked into is how strong of a case do I have with my complaints. The complaints that Jan brought against the defendant; negligence, wrongful death, and conscious pain and suffering, were all typical complaints coming from a personal injury lawyer. He was an expert in this field and was successful in winning previous cases. This led him to use complaints that were familiar to him. But after finally giving time to the families that were looking to him for representation, he should have realized that they all were not looking for a remedy that would award them compensatory damages. They vocalized that they were not interested in receiving money in place of their sufferings. Money simply could not compensate them for the loss of their children or the diseases that they felt had a direct correlation with the negligence of the companies. What they were looking for was to see that these companies be held accountable for their irresponsibility to their community and the families of that community. They wanted an apology from those responsible of the negligence and to see it be addressed and changed.
In order for Schickmann to have caused a big enough splash in the pockets of the corporations thus forcing them into action to fix the situation, Schickmann should have analyzed the situation more. As soon as he realized the ties that the small tannery had with the larger corporation and the other corporation further down the river, all he impulsively saw were money signs. This is where he should have also looked into the large amount of money that would have to be invested into a case involving Beatrice Foods and W. R. Grace and Company and the environment. The complaints that Jan had brought against the corporations weren’t enough to prove as much as he eventually wanted to. He allowed pride to overwhelm him and blind him from seeing that he was not the best lawyer to represent his clients. These people needed and environmental law lawyer that would know how to pursue a case like this. An environmental law lawyer would be able to pinpoint exactly where laws were broken and the approach to take to win the case. What Jan didn’t realize was that different complaints were needed to win a case like this.
One of the complaints that could have been used is Fraudulent Misrepresentation. According to the text, this means “Any misrepresentation, either by misstatement or by omission of a material fact, knowingly made with the intention of deceiving another on which a reasonable person would and does rely to his or her detriment” (pg 106). As stated in the text, there are several elements needed to prove this tort: 1. The misrepresentation of facts or conditions with knowledge that they are false or with reckless disregard for the truth. When the employer at the tannery received notice that someone from the city would be coming to inspect the land, he deliberately tried to hide all of the evidence of the toxic chemicals being stores and dumped in his land. Even while being questioned by Schickmann, Riley lied about the dumping of the toxic chemicals. Another element needed to prove this tort is 2. An intent to induce another to rely on the misrepresentation. Riley had his employees go out and get rid of all of the evidence so that the city inspector would not find the illegal activity that was going on in the land. 3. Justifiable reliance by the deceived party. After inspecting the land, the city inspector must have given the “all-clear” notice for the land because he didn’t find anything questionable. He relied on what was presented to him. Shickmann also relied on the statements given to him during questioning. 4. Damages suffered as a result of the reliance. The damages that occurred after the…