Shell Game: One Family's Long Battle Against Big Oil

Shell Game: One Family's Long Battle Against Big Oil

by Michael Veron
     
 

Shell Oil was accustomed to getting its way in Louisiana. With deep pockets, teams of attorneys, and influential lobbyists in the state legislature, the second-largest oil company in the world could demand—and get—essentially anything it wanted. Until it met Michael Veron and his family.

Shell Game is the dramatic, fast-paced true account of

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Overview

Shell Oil was accustomed to getting its way in Louisiana. With deep pockets, teams of attorneys, and influential lobbyists in the state legislature, the second-largest oil company in the world could demand—and get—essentially anything it wanted. Until it met Michael Veron and his family.

Shell Game is the dramatic, fast-paced true account of a nine-year battle pitting a Louisiana family of modest means against Shell in an effort to clean up decades of pollution on the family’s property. Bullied, intimidated, and dubbed “the Beverly Hillbillies” by Shell’s highly paid attorneys, author Michael Veron’s relatives refused to buckle—and continued their fight against tremendous odds.

A small-town lawyer, Veron led the fight against Shell. His first-person account of the struggle is gripping, tense, and ultimately uplifting. It is a story of greed and great passion and of one family’s refusal to back down in the face of unrelenting pressure. Shell Game is the story of how one family not only righted a wrong, but also changed the way oil companies operate.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Legal narratives pitting the hero against a malicious corporation are not in short supply, but trial lawyer Veron adds an environmental twist as he describes nine years fighting Shell Oil over decades of pollution on his family's Louisiana farm. By 1991, after his family had made a comfortable income for 62 years off the royalties from the discovery of oil on his great-grandfather's property, the land was covered with discarded equipment and poisoned with chemicals and buried toxic waste. Spurred by a cousin who wondered why the company wasn't vacating the property and cleaning it up as required by the lease, Veron spent more than a year trying to persuade Shell to fulfill its contract and pay damages, before he filed suit. Veron delivers a blow-by-blow account of the trial, quoting testimony liberally, often stepping back to discuss his and his opponent's tactics and to explain the law. An accomplished novelist (The Caddie), Veron uses his considerable skill to portray Shell's lawyers (incompetent), the judge (inexperienced and hostile) and witnesses (his are devastating). Readers won't be surprised that he wins a huge settlement. Less biased accounts such as A Civil Actiontell a more realistic and equally fascinating story, but this simpler good-versus-evil tale is a cracking good read. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Between 1961 and 1981, Shell Oil held surface leases on Louisiana property owned by four relatives of attorney and novelist Vernon (The Greatest Player Who Never Lived). When the leases expired, the oil company was obligated to vacate the land and restore the polluted property to its original condition. However, Shell did neither. So Vernon began a nine-year legal battle against the oil giant that culminated when a jury upheld the family's claim for restitution. Here he describes the events leading up to the trial and gives an absorbing account of the trial itself. Not only does he show how each side presented its case in court, but he clearly explains the reasons behind the tactics he used and the choices he made throughout the trial. (A judge obviously partial to Shell and corporate attorneys who used subterfuge to evade blame made winning difficult, indeed.) Vernon knows how to hold readers' interest. An engaging plot, colorful characters, well-written narration, and an ultimately happy ending make this a satisfying work. Recommended for public, environmental, and legal libraries.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781599210339
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
04/01/2007
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

J. Michael Veron is a trial attorney, author, and law professor at Louisiana State University. Veron’s earlier works of fiction earned him the title of "master of fiction" from USA Today, and Travel and Leisure Golf magazine called him "The John Grisham of Golf." Shell Game is his first work of nonfiction.


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