December 18, 2005 by

Ed Masry


Categories: Hollywood, Law

emasry.jpgEdward Louis Masry, the personal injury lawyer featured in the Academy Award-winning movie “Erin Brockovich,” died on Dec. 5 of complications from diabetes. He was 73.
Born in Patterson, N.J., Masry’s family moved to Southern California when he was 12 years old. He joined the U.S. Army in 1952, served two years and was discharged as a corporal. Although Masry returned to California and attended the University of California Santa Barbara, University of California Los Angeles and University of Southern California, he never received his bachelor’s degree. However, high test scores gained him entrance to Loyola Law School, where he earned his J.D. degree.
Masry opened his own law firm in 1961 and focused on criminal defense, business litigation, entertainment law and First Amendment cases. For the next four decades, the cantankerous, risk-taking attorney worked on countless lawsuits, but was best known for winning a $333 million settlement against Pacific Gas & Electric.
In the 1990s, Masry and his self-trained legal assistant Erin Brockovich spearheaded the class action lawsuit on behalf of more than 600 residents of Hinkley, Calif. They claimed PG&E knowingly allowed its tanks to leak poisons into the groundwater and put the town’s residents at risk for serious health problems. At the time the case was settled, it was the largest toxic tort injury settlement in U.S. history.
Their efforts were depicted in the 2000 Steven Soderbergh movie “Erin Brockovich,” which starred Julia Roberts in the title role and Albert Finney as Masry. Roberts won the best actress Oscar for her portrayal of the feisty mother/advocate; Finney received an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. That same year, Masry was elected to the Thousand Oaks, Calif., City Council. He served for five years, including one as mayor pro tem, before retiring in Nov. 2005 to concentrate on his health and family.
Masry received numerous honors for his litigation career and environmental efforts, including the U.S. Congressional Award for Outstanding Trial Lawyer of the Year (1982, 1988 and 1990), the Academy of Justice Award from the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice and the Environmental Hero Award from the Environmental Defense Center for Commitment to Environmental Justice. He was also the president and CEO of Save the World Air, Inc., an organization that creates products designed to reduce harmful emissions from internal combustion engines.

3 Responses to Ed Masry

  1. Mary Ann Apple

    Ed Masry was a wonderful and generous employer and always thought of his staff as very special people. I am so sorry to hear of his death.

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