Justice in Context: Erin Brockovich - Coggle Diagram
Justice in Context: Erin Brockovich
Injustices can arise from an abuse of power
PG & E abuse their power as a large corporation by knowingly allowing residents of Hinkley to be exposed to their poisonous water and paying people to conceal the evidence of their crime. This is an injustice because the people of Hinkley are suffering from serious health issues because of PG & E actions, while the corporation is escaping punishment through lies.
PG & E intentionally withheld information from the people of Hinkley, and lied about the danger of their business activity, which led to the residents being physically, emotionally and financially harmed by the presence of the detrimental chromium in their water.
[Mr Foyer] “You might want to remember who it is you’re dealing with, PG & E is a 28 billion dollar corporation.
” In this example PG & E is exploiting their power as a large corporation to threaten Erin, Ed and all the residents of Hinkley. This illustrates PG & E’s misuse of power and that it manifests the injustice around them.
Donna Jenson: “He [our doctor] said that one’s got nothing to do with the other.”
Erin: “But PG&E paid for that doctor.”
This quote provides evidence that PG & E paid off a doctor to tell residents of Hinkley that hexavalent chromium is safe.
[Mr Foyer] “In the interest of putting this whole thing to rest, PG&E is willing to offer the Jenson’s $250 000 for their home”...”we feel as if this is a more than fair price”
The use of the condescending tone and the quote itself illustrates PG & E’s disregard for fair treatment and the superiority complex they possess.
With courage and solidarity, justice can be brought against the powerful by less powerful people.
In the case of the residents of Hinkley, each individual does not hold much power over PG & E, a very powerful corporation. However, with the support of Erin and Ed, they unite together to seek compensation which they successfully attain.
Residents of Hinkley are portrayed as casual and unprofessional, suggesting that they would not hold much power in the courtroom. For example, the man’s costuming of the backwards hat, bearded, shirtless man signing the form against the wall of someone’s house.
In contrast, PG & E are shown wearing expensive suits, carrying large folders with neat hair and faces.This suggests they have authority over the residents of Hinkley in the courtroom.
[Erin] “We can get these people. With just a little effort I think we can nail their asses to the wall.”
Implies that Erin knows that they are in an inferior position to PG&E, but still has the courage to take upon the challenge of going against them so that the residents of Hinkley can achieve justice. Her hurried and enthusiastic body language suggests that she is willing to stand her ground and ensure that Ed agrees to try.
Erin: It’s kinda like David and what’s-his-name!
Ed: It’s kinda like David and what’s-his-names’ whole family.
These quotes are an allusion to the bible story of David and Goliath which effectively connotes a lesser power overtaking the powerful, in the name of justice. The quote also suggests that Erin has a confident mindset and believes they will be successful as was David.
Prejudices can perpetuate injustice
The long shot of the intersection shows the light turning to green. This conveys that Erin was not at fault for the accident.
The costuming of the neck brace allows us to infer that Erin has been physically harmed by the car crash.
The lawyer speaks with a condescending tone, asking “there’s more than one [ex-husband]?” and suggests that she saw a “pretty good meal ticket” with the doctors car, implying that Erin is careless and irresponsible. He adds in an incredulous tone, “An ER doctor who spends his day saving lives crashed into you?”
The reaction shot of the jury side-eyeing one another, shows that they perceive Erin with disapproval.
The judge finds in the doctors favour. Soderbergh shows Erin’s response to this injustice, loudly exclaiming “It was over long before it began.” The anger in her delivery shows that she felt she never had a chance at achieving justice; people were never going to believe her over the doctor.
The snippets highlight her vulnerability as well as her responsibility for her family. There is an exasperated tone in which she speaks which conveys her annoyance at the fact that she is losing a court case when she was in fact the victim of the injustice.
True justice requires compassion and empathy for victims of injustice
Erin is a catalyst in delivering justice for the residents of Hinkley and she does so effectively as she feels empathy for the victims of the injustice. Her compassionate nature fuels her intimate understanding of the people who have been mistreated, which proves to be essential in collecting the evidence that allows them to achieve success in court.
Erin is portrayed as empathetic through her concerned facial expression and large listening eyes while witnessing Donna Jensen in disbelief after finding out that her water is highly poisonous.
[Erin] “Breast cysts, uterine cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, immune deficiencies, asthma, nose bleeds“...
Both the context and the content of the dialogue demonstrates Erin’s compassionate understanding of her clients as she has memorised all the details of their diseases as if she was close to them.
[Erin] “How many were born like this?”...”Yeah it might”...”Thank you so much, I really appreciate it.”
The soft, comforting tone of voice Erin uses when communicating with the Robinson’s about their disabled chickens illustrates her capacity to sympathise with victims of injustice and work collaboratively to complete the case.
[Erin] “I’m so sorry”
Dialogue is utilised to indicates Erin’s sympathy for the Robinson’s when she learns of Mrs Robinson’s miscarriages. The fact that she is ‘sorry’ implies that Erin is personally bothered about the detrimental health impacts that these people have had to endure.
[Ed] “Thanks, but we have to be getting back”
[Erin] “Ed. Have a cup of coffee.”
[Ed] “Coffee would be great! Thank you!”
Dialogue is utilised to highlight the potency of being humane and empathetic towards others while delivering justice to individuals. The simple act of having a cup of coffee (which Ed refuses at first because he prioritises getting back to the law firm), is a valuable act that allows the lawyers and victims of injustice to build a relationship, proving that Ed and Erin care about their clients.
[Erin] “Mike said that he had seen you at the hospital from time to time, so that’s what brought me out here.”
The careful, sympathetic tone of voice conveys Erin’s compassion for the circumstances of the Daniels’. The dialogue also illustrates the lengths she goes to to have one on one meetings with the residents of Hinkley so as to develop a compassionate understanding of the victims’ situation.
The montage of little Annabelle Daniels looking worried with her large eyes at Erin, who stares lovingly back at her with a softened expression, illustrates the warm-hearted nature with which Erin undertakes her quest for justice.
[Erin] “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose or draw here. You were lied to. You are sick; your kids are sick because of those lies.”
Dialogue is powerfully utilised to highlight Erin’s underlying motives for embarking on the quest for justice, which is to fight for the residents of Hinkley, whom she feels great sympathy for, as they are too sick to represent themselves.
[Erin]”It’s enough. It’s enough for whatever you could ever need or your girls need or your girls’ girls’ need”
In the scene where Erin tells Donna Jensen about the five million dollar compensation the Jensen’s will receive, dialogue is utilised to emphasise Erin’s compassion and emotional intelligence as she reassures Donna that the money will not only be enough for her, but will likely ensure the health of her children so that they can live long and have their own children.