COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. -- Environmental activist Erin Brockovich made a stop in West Michigan on Saturday to encourage residents affected by contaminated water to join a class action lawsuit.
The suit is being litigated by Weitz & Luxenberg, Miller Law, and Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP. In an open meeting, representatives from these firms say they are after money from these companies that are responsible for the dumping.
But will a big check from Wolverine Worldwide, 3M and Waste Management make this issue go away?
Brockovich isn't going down without a fight, neither are residents
Taking on the big corporations responsible for dumping is part of the battle Brockovich has been fighting since 1991. It was the center of a Hollywood movie, detailing her discovery of a small town water contamination in Hinkley, California.
You might know her as the tough talking character played by Julia Roberts in the 2000 film, bearing her name but the real Erin Brockovich is a sight for sore eyes in Kent County.
"I got involved in a situation many years ago in Hinckley with people. I believed them I did not think they were making up stories, my common sense was telling me something wasn`t right."
After months of work and investigation, Brockovich helped settle a groundwater contamination case for Hinkley, California residents for an astounding $333 million - the largest direct-lawsuit payout in U.S. history. But the `sign` Brockovich needed to come to West Michigan was a bit more deliberate.
"I was home and fired up my morning computer because I get emails from 126 countries and territories and I had over 50 the first go-around coming from different sections of the county but they were all about Wolverine and PFAs."
Some of the hundreds of residents affected by the dangerous chemicals left to seep into their water supplies from decades-old Wolverine dumpsites had sought Brockovich`s attention. But PFA`s were already on her radar.
"In Alabama, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, West Virginia, Minnesota, now Michigan, Colorado, California. It`s a bad actor and it`s a big problem and it`s wide spread."
Affected residents are hoping Brockovich`s guidance of a class action lawsuit, filed on December first, will empower them with the answers they need but haven`t gotten.
"When they have the truth they at least have something tangible that they can work with, that they can talk to doctors about, that they can learn about and that is how we best protest ourselves - through information and awareness."
It`s about the chemicals, yes, but it`s also about accountability, Brockovich says. It`s a fight she`s fought before and one she`ll fight again here in West Michigan.
"Here again is that lack of transparency the cover up the secret, if you will, that becomes the destroyer."