Erin Brockovich true story

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Erin Brockovich (2000)
Starring Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, Aaron Eckhart
based on Erin Brockovich-Ellis and her research that resulted in a 333 million dollar settlement with Pacific Gas & Electric Co.
Reel Face: Real Face:
Julia Roberts Julia Roberts
October 28, 1967
Georgia, USA
Erin Brockovich-Ellis Erin Brockovich
June 22,
1960, as Erin
Birthplace: Lawrence, Kansas
Albert Finney Albert Finney
May 9,
England, UK
Edward L. Masry Edward L. Masry
July 29,
Birthplace: Patterson, New

"The movie is mostly lies. I wish the truth would come out because a lot of us are upset. I understand the movie is going to make Erin and the attorneys out to be heroes. ...But where's the rest of our money?" - Plaintiff, Carol Smith, 2000

Questioning the Story:

Why does Erin Brockovich now go by the name Erin Brockovich-Ellis?
John BakerErin married actor Eric Ellis in 1999. This is not the biker George, played by actor Aaron Eckhart in the film, although the biker was in fact based on a real person. Erin's 1999 marriage was her third trip to the alter. She was first married in 1982 to a restaurant manager named Shawn Brown, with whom she had two children, Matthew and Katie. Erin and Shawn divorced in 1987. After becoming a secretary at a Reno brokerage, it was there that she met her second husband, stockbroker Steven Brockovich. The two married in 1989 and had one child, her youngest daughter, Elizabeth. Erin and Steven divorced in 1990. Currently, Erin Brockovich lives with her husband Eric and her children in Agoura Hills, California.

What happened with Erin's biker boyfriend George in real life?
Erin's biker boyfriend George (Aaron Eckhart) from the film is in fact a real person. In real life things didn't work out between Erin and George. However, he did come back into her life shortly after the film's release, but it wasn't under pleasant circumstances. George, Erin's ex-husband, and an attorney contacted Ed Masry and demanded that the three of them be paid $310,000 or else they were going to tell the press that Erin was an unfit mother and that she and Ed once had a relationship. Erin and Ed did not give in to the threats that they deem are false. Instead, they told the three individuals to go ahead and carry out their actions. A district attorney soon stepped in, and a sting operation was set up. All three individuals were arrested for extortion, including the biker, George. Both Erin's ex-husband and George were quickly released. However, the attorney was still serving time in a California jail as of August 2001. -NPR

Erin Brockovich Book Take It From Me
Buy the Book to Learn What the Movie Doesn't Show About Erin Brockovich

Read about her lifelong struggle with dyslexia, two failed marriages, a custody battle, an extortion attempt and of course the PG&E-Hinkley case that led to the movie.

Did Erin Brockovich really memorize all 634 plaintiffs and their cases?
Yes. In a Q&A session, Erin said that because she suffers from dyslexia, she is unable to read and comprehend in a normal manner. In order to cope with her illness, she said that she has learned mostly everything in her life through memorization. This is how she remembered all of the Hinkley residents' cases. In addition to dyslexia, Erin also claims that she has struggled through anorexia and that she has panic disorder.

Did Erin Brockovich purposely use her cleavage to obtain documents like in the film?
Erin BrockovichAt a National Press Club Luncheon, Erin answered this by saying, "I don't know that I had in my mindset, I'm going to come in here and show my cleavage to get these documents. I really don't think I was operating at that level. My dress code is not designed to offend anybody. It's just simply the way I dress, and if my cleavage was showing and the guy let me in the door, I mean, I was happy to get in and I never really paid any more attention to it. So, however you dress, it's your own personal style. I don't mean to offend anybody. That's just who I am, and I don't deliberately utilize it as a tool to get what I'm looking for." -NPR

The scene where Julia Roberts told one of the defense attorneys, "We had that water brought in special for you folks," did that really happen?
Yes. In a Q&A session, Erin Brockovich said that this happened but in a different context. Instead of an office meeting room
, it happened in a court of law.

Are the publicized concerns about the validity of the film true?
Michael FumentoRespected writer Michael Fumento (right), who is a journalist and also an attorney specializing in science and health issues, has spearheaded these concerns. His articles regarding the film's misrepresentations appeared in various publications, including The Wall Street Journal. Fumento's concerns are primarily with the chemical Chromium-6. Fumento argues that there is no significant evidence to prove that Chromium-6 was the cause of the variety of the ailments suffered by the people of Hinkley, California. Erin Brockovich then responded to his article by trying to support the claims of the lawyers, saying that Chromium-6 kills. You can read both Fumento's article and Brockovich's response (here). In all of my research for this page, I have not seen well-documented evidence supporting Brockovich's claims, nor have I found any significant evidence saying that Chromium-6 is completely harmless either. It is in fact recognized as a carcinogen.

What are the known dangers surrounding the chemical Chromium-6, which Brockovich and the lawyers cite as the cause of the victims' ailments?
steelChromium-6, also known as hexavalent chromium, is a known carcinogen, as classified by the U.S. EPA ( It is also referred to as industrial chromium because it is used in various industrial processes, including the hardening of steel and in the production of many steel alloys ( In the case of Hinkley, Calif., it was being used as a rust inhibitor by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, which they carelessly dumped and let seep into the groundwater used by the residents of Hinkley ( If it is inhaled regularly over a long period of time, it can cause lung cancer and cancer of the septum ( For example, studies have shown that the risk of developing respiratory cancer is twenty times greater for chromate plant workers than for the general population ( But what about the ingestion (not inhalation) of Chromium-6 as in the case of Hinkley?

In 1998, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report on Chromium-6 stated, "No data were located in the available literature that suggested that it is carcinogenic by the oral route of exposure." The reason for this, as explained by Joe Schwarcz, director of McGill University's Office for Chemistry and Society, "is that ingested chromium-6 encounters hydrochloric acid in the stomach's gastric juices, and is converted to chromium-3, which is innocuous." Chromium-3 is a trace mineral and is found in such foods as broccoli, cheese, meats, cereal, brewer's yeast, whole grains, and mushrooms ( Chromium-3 is considered essential in man and animals for efficient lipid, glucose, and protein metabolism ( Schwarcz also pointed out, "no single toxin causes the wide array of conditions that afflict Hinkley residents."

So, is it possible that in significant enough amounts, the stomach's gastric juices would be unable to break down all of the Chromium-6, thus only limiting the carcinogenicity of ingested chromium-6, but not eliminating it altogether? This is a likely possibility ( Chromium-6 breakdown in the stomach may not even apply in cases where contaminated water could blend with mucus and lie in the back of the throat for some time, possibly causing cancer of the throat, as in the case of plaintiff Carol Smith, whose husband has had 17 tumors removed from his throat ( The final question becomes just how much Chromium-6 was in the Hinkley drinking water? Masry's firm's findings often appeared greater than those of the water authority and other sources. Maybe his firm was rounding up while others were rounding down. Years have gone by, and it is possible that the correct amount that had been present may never be known for certain.

How much were the lawyers rewarded as a result of the settlement with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)?

In 1996 PG&E settled the case for $333 million. This was the largest settlement ever awarded in a direct-action lawsuit in the history of the United States. The lawyers received forty percent, which was a little over $133 million. As in the film, attorney Ed Masry rewarded Erin Brockovich with a $2 million bonus. The more than 600 Hinkley plaintiffs, many of whom had become seriously ill, were in the end left with $196 million to be divided between them. On average, each victim received $300,000.

Were the victims happy with the money that they were rewarded?
Not all of the victims were happy with the amount of money that they were given. After being billed an extra $10 million for undetailed expenses and having to wait nearly six months after the $333 million had been deposited by PG&E, many of the victims were unhappy with the sum of money that they had been rewarded. The lawyers determined this sum confidentially by various factors, including the severity of their ailments. On average, this came to $300,000 per victim, as stated previously. Some did receive several million. Others received less. For example, Dorothea Montoya received $60,000; Christine Mace got $50,000; Lynn Tindell $50,000; Tiffany Oliver got $60,000. Plaintiff Carol Smith argued, "It didn't make sense why my husband, who's had 17 tumors removed from his throat, got only $80,000." After the residents, including Smith, were told that their awards would be based on their medical records, some claimed that their medical records were never looked at, " one ever looked at my medical records," said Carol Smith. "I'm sure of that because my doctors told me so after I asked." As a result, some of the plaintiffs appealed their settlements, seeking sums that they felt were more justified.

Had Erin Brockovich really been Miss Wichita?
In responding to a question regarding the movie's accuracy, Erin answered by saying the following, "It's about 98 to 99 percent accurate. They took very, very few liberties. One of the liberties was, I was not Miss Wichita, I was actually Miss Pacific Coast, right here in California. Steven Soderbergh thought it would be cute since I was from Kansas to throw that in there."

How does Erin Brockovich feel about Julia Roberts playing her in the film?
During a Q&A session, Erin (pictured below, right, at
the Erin Brockovich premiere) responded by saying:
steelThis is a true story: Ed Masry loves to tease me. He wakes up everyday and thinks, "What can I do to Brockovich today?" We used to be driving back from Kettleman, Hinkley, whatever case we were on, two or three years before this movie ever came out. And he'd ask, "Who do you want to play you?" I said, "I don't know Ed. I don't sit around and think about it." And I really didn't. He goes, "I don't care either, so long as it's not Julia Roberts." I said, "Really, you don't like her?" He goes, "No. She can't play you. Roseanne Barr can." That is true and that is what he said, so I had fun with him the day Universal called and said Julia Roberts is going to play the part. He goes, "You're kidding me; she can't play that part." I thought her performance was fantastic.

Did the real Erin Brockovich appear in the film?
Yes. The real Erin Brockovich appeared as a waitress in the film. -IMDB

Does the real Erin Brockovich, who lives in California, have PG&E as her power provider?
No. Fortunately for Erin, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, who paid $333 million partially as a result of Erin's research, is not her current power provider. "As for my utility service," Erin said. "I have Southern Cal Edison, and just thank God it's not PG&E, because I'd live in the dark."

Watch the Real Erin Brockovich Speak About Her Experience