The Litigators Reviewed By Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com
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Author: Lindsay G. Arthur, Jr.
Publisher: Scarletta Press
Set in Minneapolis, the crux of The Litigators focuses on an unfortunate event where a young woman, Ruth Bergstrom contacts some unknown disease and begins to lose strength in her legs causing her to suffer pain. Her condition seems to be deteriorating and when she consults her doctor, she is advised that her health problem may be due to having been exposed to some toxic substance.
The Bergstroms live next to an abandoned gas station which is in the process of being cleaned up by a company called EnviroClean owned by a former college professor, Dr. Boyd Campbell. The company has been using an innovative procedure wherein genetically mutated organisms are employed to degrade hazardous compounds. The company calls these organisms P-27.
EnviroClean is about to launch an IPO and as Campbell is presenting all kinds of data concerning his company to his attorneys and prospective investors, an unusual letter pops up among the many documents. The letter is from Mrs. Bergstrom where she causally asks Campbell if what his company is doing would possibly cause her to have an allergic reaction. Little does she realize at the time that her innocent letter would eventually result in a horror of events involving a bunch of egotistical lawyers that would not be acting in the best interests of their clients.
Campbell is quite adamant that the process he uses to clean up toxic contaminants is very safe. However, this does not totally convince his investors who tell him and his lawyer, Henry Holten that he must put a quick end to Bergstrom's inquiry as they don't intend to buy into any future law suits. Holten brushes it all aside and assures them that the matter will be dealt with appropriately.
Holten and his gang of high powered lawyers put their heads together including Holten's hot shot young partner Allison Forbes and draft a reply letter to Bergstrom. After considerable discussion and several drafts, Forbes presents the letter to Holten, who, without informing her, makes some important changes and has the letter sent off to Mrs. Bergstrom.
Within a few days Mrs. Bergstrom receives a very strong response from Campbell's lawyers stating that they would vigorously defend EnvuriClean and its products against any such frivolous charges to the fullest extent of resources of its firm.
Mrs. Bergstrom is introduced to her friend's husband, Dillon Love who is an attorney. After reading Mrs. Bergstrom's lawyer's letter, Loves smells something fishy and is determined to pursue EnviroClean. However, there is one problem, Love is not in the same league as Holten, as he is a solo practitioner with very limited resources. Nonetheless, this does not deter him and he wants nothing to do with a possible our-of-court settlement. Incidentally, Holten is likewise not open to any kind of settlement fearing that it would jeopardize EnviroClean's IPO and is looking to have the case thrown out. As the story unfolds, we also discover that Holten has another reason for not settling-one that plays a very important role in the future trial.
Let the fun and games begin as the lawyers counsel their clients to forget about settling, notwithstanding the reluctance of Mrs. Bergstrom and Dr. Campbell to avoid litigation. Such a pity, for in the end no one really wins.
The novel stretches far more than what appears on the surface as it engages its readers in the lives and hearts of its characters. In addition, readers get the real feel of what it is like to practice law in a powerful and prestigious law firm as compared to a solo practitioner who barely ekes out a living with very little resources at his disposal and where the odds are generally stacked against him. Moreover, it is a reminder that unfortunately there are far too many lawyers that don't consider the frightful consequences that can result from long and drawn out legal procedures and manoeuvrings.
What I found most surprising about The Litigators is that it is authored by someone that you would expect would be an unwavering defendant of litigators when you consider that he is an attorney who has tried over 150 cases during a career that has spanned thirty-five years. However, as mentioned in Arthur's bio, he “was prompted to write The Litigators by his love for the law, whose greatest virtue is, paradoxically, its willingness to tolerate strident criticism. In that spirit Arthur speaks here, as an entrenched insider, with a bold critique of a judicial system that is increasingly tarnished by the unscrupulous and excessive practices of certain lawyers.” And to this I say, Amen!