In ‘Erin Brockovich,’ Julia Roberts plays the role of a woman whose life is changed when she comes across a case where a large corporation is robbing people of their lives and their future. The town of Hinkley is being slowly poisoned by PG&E, and the residents have been told that it’s not due to the chemicals released by the company’s plant. When Erin Brockovich comes across the case, she discovers how the company is profiting off of the locals by keeping them in the dark about the truth of the matter. In the end, it is an insider who helps take down the bad guys.
Charles Embry is Based on PG&E’s Real Employee, Charles “Chuck” Ebersohl
In the movie, Charles Embry approaches Erin Brockovich and gives her a crucial piece of information that changes everything about the case. The whole thing went down pretty much, as shown in the movie, but a few details were tweaked. Charles Embry was actually a man named Charles “Chuck” Ebersohl. He’d given thirty years of his life to Pacific Gas and Electric Co., working as a supervisor. When Brockovich started digging around, she also approached the employees at the plant, and Ebersohl took notice of her.
He had seen her at employee meetings and knew that she was friends with some of his colleagues, including Lillian Melendez. In fact, Brockovich had even talked to his daughters and got them to agree to help her with the case, with hundreds of other people affected by the plant’s presence and the actions of the people in charge. It took a lot of time for Ebersohl to decide to trust Brockovich and tell her the truth.
He found her sitting in the Sit n Bull Cafe that day, drinking a beer. By that time, Brockovich had discovered that the case would amount to nothing if they couldn’t find anything to connect the plant to head office, who could easily deny any responsibility, claiming they didn’t know anyone. This is when Ebersohl approached her and told her something that would completely flip the situation.
He confessed that he and Lillian Melendez had been asked by the people at PG&E to destroy some documents. Some of those documents related to the water contamination in the area. This confirmed that the head office knew everything and had even tried to hide the fact from the public to save face. But with Ebersohl’s help, Brockovich got those documents, and the case against the company strengthened its footing.
Born in 1936 in Illinois, Ebersohl had spent thirty-six years of his life in Barstow. Having worked for PG&E for three decades, he knew what the company was hiding and the impact that the contaminated water had on people’s lives. He must have known that he couldn’t simply go to the authorities about the documents they wanted destroyed, which is why it wasn’t until he knew he could trust Erin Brockovich that he came forward about it.
Chuck Ebersohl died on. January 9, 2002, at his house in Barstow at the age of 65 due to unknown reasons. He’d previously served as the commander of Amvets Post 277 and remained its member his entire life. He also loved fishing. He was married to Marlene Ebersohl, with whom he had four daughters, one son, and a stepdaughter. He had a grand extended family with seven grandchildren, three step-grandchildren, and one great-grandchild, all of whom remember him with love and respect. Erin Brockovich has credited Ebersohl as one of the people crucial to bringing down PG&E and bringing justice to the residents of Hinkley.
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