Fallout (defined): the settling to the ground of airborne particles ejected into the atmosphere from the earth by explosions, eruptions, forest fires, etc.
The little town of Crockett, California had been sitting in the path of airborne toxins for generations. Her residents knew it, but never had the voices with which to organize, much less take action—and no one would likely have cared if they did. In 1994, that all changed when the Unocal petroleum refinery secretly polluted the sky for weeks and handed now-furious Crockett both the perfect adversary and legal opportunity to take back its power, and to keep it.
Fresh out of law school, idealistic and determined to make a success of his fledgling law practice, Scott Cole shared his clients’ disdain for bullies and the Entitled. While Unocal rushed to cover up the incident and its greed, Scott raced to rally the town, challenging the company—first on its own doorstep and then in the courts, filing a billion-dollar class action lawsuit, his first ever.
Fallout is the true story of a four-year journey—as seen through Scott’s eyes—from his discovery of a major toxic chemical release by one of the world’s largest petroleum refiners, through California’s complex court system, across the doorsteps of the victims of corporate indifference, to Scott’s coming-of-age as a legal advocate, a shrewd player in the world of highly-tactical, uber-aggressive class-action litigation, and a compassionate human being. The book is the gripping account of how far one corporation went for profit and how its poverty-stricken neighbors finally stood up and fought back when pushed too far. While offering jaw-dropping accounts of personal humility and suffering, it chronicles the transformation of a naïve young man, struggling to make a name for himself while maintaining his moral compass.
Fiercely determined to overcome his own demons, Scott sees himself in the blue-collar townspeople he represents, and for whom he wants justice. He is an enigma—a single young man content to take on the world alone, yet terrified by the prospect that the people he represents will lose the case, and their dignity, both to the powerful company that harmed them and at the hands of the other victims’ lawyers who appear more focused on a paycheck than helping the people in a permanent way. With almost no money, support or experience with complex lawsuits, Scott is driven by impulse and passion to make things right, leaping without looking and filing an enormous lawsuit against the oil company—a case that would change his clients’ lives and their sleepy little town forever.