Tom Girardi, the lawyer whose big claim to fame was a game of chicken with Pacific Gas&Electric over a chemical detected in the water of a small town in the Mojave, was long suspected of being ethically challenged, but as long as he was sticking it to corporations it wasn't a concern for journalists.

Sticking it to his clients was another issue. He has been brought up on two more criminal charges of bilking money from people he represented. Nothing about his tactics was ever going to win friends, but like Harvey Weinstein, if you are winning and don't go too far, you'll be fine.

Girardi went too far when he was no longer shaking down companies, he defrauded his clients. The residents of Hinckley, the town in 'the Erin Brockovich case', had complained about it. Somehow they got $10,000 or maybe $200,000 while lawyers got $133 million. Though it is illegal for lawyers to take such high percentages from kids the lawyers got a judge to agree, taking a third. 

From children.

And the lawyers made sure the settlement stayed sealed so no one would know who got what or why. That never made it into the film, nor did the $10 million in "miscellaneous" expenses that came off the top but were not itemized.

That was not the only mystery. The settlement mystified scientists in numerous ways. There were no more cases of cancer in Hinckley than anywhere else, averages mean at some points in time there will be higher or lower, but a carcinogen like smoking trends higher. And toxicologists were baffled the company settled, meaning a jury would never hear evidence that chromium-6, used to prevent rust 25 years earlier, was orders of magnitude below harmful levels. 

Hazard and risk are often conflated by environmental groups, but that case really made it lucrative. Such a giant settlement created what lawyers call "precedent" and similar grifters use the same emotional plea to try and get settlements for weedkillers and whatever else now. If I tell you the flapping of an insect wings has an effect on the moon, you agree if you know physics, but you also laugh it off as inconsequential, whereas if a highly-paid lawyer at an environmental group claims water 'contains a toxic chemical' you may assume the dose is relevant. They count on that.

Modern clients are learning about Girardi what the science community knew all along; he will say and do anything to make buck.