May 24, 2022

“Michael Clayton” and the Tao of Claim Defense

OK, so I’ll confess don’t get to the movie theaters much.

($11 a ticket PLUS $8 popcorn? Are you kidding?!) But the wife and I watch plenty of movies on DVD, courtesy of Netflix. I know that time-wise I’m behind the curve here but last night I finally got around to watching and enjoying “Michael Clayton.” I had not realized that the movie centered on a product liability case, a class action involving a weed-killer and a mythical Nebraska-based company called U-North.

Some highlights of the plotline which may interest those in the claims realm:

• Bad documents can sink your defense (though how did these stay suppressed and secret so long?)
• Lead defense counsel strips down to his underwear during one plaintiff’s deposition (lending a whole new meaning to the phrase, “legal briefs”). Also, why did the lead defense counsel in this role have to be played by Tom Wilkinson instead of, say, Charleze Theron, just to pick a name at random.
• Defense firm of Kenner, Bach & Ledeen dances a jig when it hits 30,000 billable hours on the defense of the carcinogenic weed-killer. Yippee!
• Product defendant plays hardball on a whole new level.

OK, it’s Hollywood. I get it.

Nevertheless, if you work in the vineyard of liability claims, you may get a hoot out of “Michael Clayton.”

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