Erin Brockovich

Poor to Powerhouse

Who is She?

Erin Brockovich was born June 6th, 1960. In 1981, she made the big move from Kansas to California looking for change but instead, her life struggles began. By 1991 she had gone through two divorces, moved three times, had three kids, gone through bouts of depression, and been in a near fatal car accident. After her accident, Erin required neck surgery but could not afford it. Erin moved back to California and was introduced to attorney Jim Vititoe, of the law firm, Masry & Vititoe. Vititoe filed a lawsuit on Erin’s behalf and helped her get the neck surgery she desperately needed. Erin was in need of a job so in 1992 Erin started at Masry and Vititoe answering phones for $300 a week. Ed Masry came to her with a real-estate case that needed filing. The case concerned Pacific Gas & Electric’s interest in buying a family residence in Hinkley, California. She went on to find out that Pacific Gas & Electric had allowed the leakage of Chromium into the well-water of Hinkley, California for over 30 years. She went on to sue the company and she brought justice to the affected.

What was exposed?

Erin discovered was that PG&E had allowed the leakage of a contaminant called Chromium 6 into the well-water of Hinkley, California, for over 30 years. Several residents of this small desert community were suffering from ailments ranging from chronic nosebleeds to cancer. Also, many had been born with birth defects, including cleft lip and palate, a missing ear, slight retardations and many more

What happened Next?

The case was settled in 1996 for 333 million dollars, the largest settlement ever paid in a direct action lawsuit in US history. Brockovich's law firm received 133.6 million dollars of this settlement, and Brockovich received a two million dollar bonus from the action.

What happened to Brockovich?

Erin formed close relationships with several of the residents of Hinkley. Brockovich's work in bringing litigation against Pacific Gas and Electric is the focus of the 2000 feature film, Erin Brockovich starring Julia Roberts as the famous whistleblower. The film was nominated for five Oscars: Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Writing in a Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.Erin has hosted Challenge America with Erin Brockovich on ABC and Final Justice on Zone Reality. She is the president of Brockovich Research & Consulting, a consulting firm. She is currently working as a consultant for Girardi & Keese, the New York law firm Weitz & Luxenberg, which has a focus on personal injury claims for asbestos exposure, and Shine Lawyers in Australia. Her book, Take It From Me: Life's a Struggle But You Can Win, was published in October 2001. Her famous litigations since then include a suit against the Beverly Hills Unified School District in 2003, in which the district was accused of harming the health and safety of its students by allowing a contractor to operate a cluster of oil wells on campus and in June 2009, Brockovich began investigating a case of contaminated water in Midland Texas where "significant amounts" of hexavalent chromium were found in the water of more than 40 homes in the area.

And Pacific Gas and Electric?

In April of 2001, PG&E filed for bankruptcy, the third-largest in US history at the time.
In 2006, PG&E agreed to pay $295 million to settle cases involving another 1,100 people within the state for Chromium 6 related claims. In 2008, PG&E settled the last of the cases involved with the Hinkley claims for $20 million. The litigation brought by Brockovich led to a deeper investigation in PG&E and their alleged statewide water contamination. It resulted in a US wide awareness about the dangers of contaminated water and it brought justice to the many affected people of the Chromium 6 contamination.

Works Cited

"Erin Brockovich Biography." Erin Brockovich. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2013.

"Erin Brockovich: The Real Toxic Avenger." Buzz The P2S Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2013.

LITOFF, ALYSSA. "California Wasteland: Erin Brockovich Still Fighting for Neighbors Over Contaminated Drinking Water." ABC News. ABC News Network, 09 Dec. 2011. Web. 18 Feb. 2013.

"PG&E Files for Bankruptcy / $9 Billion in Debt, Firm Abandons Bailout Talks with State." SFGate. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2013.

"VJ Books Presents Erin Brockovich!" Erin Brockovich Signed Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2013.