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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Law Group to Fete Masry, Brockovich

May 08, 2000|GREG RISLING

Attorney Edward Masry and legal investigator Erin Brockovich, whose real-life legal victory inspired a hit film, will be saluted Friday by a Valley legal association at Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills.

Masry and Brockovich, who are portrayed in the movie, "Erin Brockovich," will receive the Armand Arabian Law and Media Award that recognizes those in the legal profession who enhance the image of attorneys in the media. Last year's recipient was David Kelly Productions, which produces the television shows "The Practice" and "Ally McBeal."

"The award is given to these two individuals because of the positive image the movie portrays lawyers who are helping out the little guy," said Elizabeth Post, executive director of the Valley Community Legal Foundation of the San Fernando Valley Bar Assn.

The duo from Masry & Vititoe law firm in Westlake Village are played by Albert Finney and Julia Roberts in the film. They won the largest direct-action settlement in the nation's history. About $333 million was paid by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to more than 600 residents of Hinkley, Calif., in the alleged pollution of the community's ground water.

Masry and Brockovich have been making different kinds of headlines over the last few weeks. A former employee sued Masry, contending that he and colleagues made sexual comments and touched her inappropriately. Also, the former husband and an ex-boyfriend of Brockovich were arrested last month and charged with attempting to extort about $300,000 from her and Masry.

Although the news hasn't been flattering, it hasn't changed the award ceremony plans, organizers said.

"Our belief is that they are now high-profile figures and these things are bound to happen," Post said.

The banquet will begin at 6 p.m. Friday with a silent auction at the Marriott, 21850 Oxnard St., Woodland Hills. For more information, call (818) 227-0490.

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