“The Appeal” by John Grisham
Genre: Legal Thriller
Rating: 4 Water Towers
After years of litigation, the small, nearly bankrupt, law firm of Payton & Payton (Mary Grace and Wes) has just won a $41 million lawsuit against New York based Krane Chemical. This is proof that the illegal dumping of chemicals at the Krane plant in Bowmore, Mississippi had contaminated the drinking water resulting in the cancer deaths of (so far) 60 plus members of the community.
A sweet victory. Or is it?
“The Appeal” means just that. Now that the jury has awarded a huge settlement, the high priced ($750 per hour) lawyers working for billionaire Carl Trudeau’s Krane Chemical (part of the much larger Trudeau Group) are appealing the decision to the Mississippi Supreme Court. Until the Supreme Court upholds the verdict, no money will be dispersed to help the cancer stricken, poor, residents of Bowmore.
And this process will take at least 12 to 18 months.
Since Mississippi elects their Supreme Court Judges, and an election is due this year for middle of the road Judge Sheila McCarthy, the deep pockets (and devious minds) of big business come up with a plan to unseat her and elect a Judge who will be sympathetic to them, thus changing the face of the Supreme Court in Mississippi from one that is plaintiff friendly to one that is plaintiff unfriendly.
Carl Trudeau hires Barry Rinehart to rig the election. Barry, with the help of Tony Zachary, finds a handsome small town insurance lawyer with little experience, no background issues, and a conservative leaning. Ron Fisk is that lawyer, and after being wined and dined and made to feel extremely important Ron agrees to run, and the deception of the Mississippi voters is underway.
After hiring another small town lawyer to enter the race as a decoy, Judge McCarthy realizes that she may have to fight to win her seat. Although the person running against her is not a threat, McCarthy rallies the support of the Mississippi Trial Lawyers and, half-heartedly, raises some cash to fund her re-election bid. Suddenly she is blindsided by the appearance of the much more serious Ron Fisk and his well oiled, and well funded, campaign.
Facts are distorted, lies are generated, and Judge McCarthy is made out to be a raging “liberal” and the cause of much of the problems with litigation in Mississippi. She supports gay marriage, is for gun control and she is single with loose morals. Her voting record clearly indicates her liberal thinking. Ron Fisk on the other hand is a God faring, Mississippi conservative who supports gun control, is against gay marriage, and is a solid family man who will fight for your way of life. Of course, what the voters do not know, is that Ron happens to be funded by a New York billionaire who needs his vote in the upcoming appeal of Baker versus Krane Chemical.
“The Appeal” is a terrific book that takes a frightening look at dirty politics and how the minds of the voters can be manipulated (via advertising and marketing) to suit the needs of the rich and powerful. Conversely, it shows how the sick and the poor are easily tossed aside when confronted by those who care little about human suffering or right and wrong.
The ending of this book…..oh, I almost forgot, you will need to read the book to find out.