Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Erin Brockovich’ follows the story of an unemployed mother of three who stumbles upon a case that changes the course of her life. Starring Julia Roberts in the lead role, the film tracks Brockovich’s journey, from her days of struggle as a single mother who struggles to find a job while taking care of her three children. When the truth about the contamination of water in Hinkley comes to light, life becomes even more hectic for her. But despite all the struggles, it becomes a huge win for the people of Hinkley. What happened to Erin Brockovich after that?
Erin Brockovich Has Had a Turbulent Life
Born in 1960 in Lawrence, Kansas, Erin Brockovich’s father, Frank Pattee, was an industrial engineer, and her mother, Betty Jo, was a journalist. A graduate of Lawrence High School and Wade College in Dallas, Erin is dyslexic. She started her career as a management trainee at K-Mart, leaving it to study electrical engineering and then entering the Miss Pacific Coast beauty pageant to end up winning the title. By that time, she’d met Shawn Brown, who became her first husband and the father of her children, Matthew and Katie. A short while later, their marriage fell apart, and Brown, a painter and decorator, moved away.
Erin then found a job as a secretary at a brokerage firm in Reno, where she’d moved because of her first husband. Here, she met Steven Brockovich, who worked in the same firm and had another child, Elizabeth, with him. Things didn’t work out between them, and once again, Erin was divorced. With three kids and none of their fathers in the picture, she struggled to keep her family afloat. One day, she got into a car accident, which led her to Ed Masry’s door, and she ended up getting a job at the firm Masry & Vititoe as a file clerk. By this time, she’d left Reno and moved back to San Fernando Valley.
One day, she came across the papers of a pro bono real estate case being handled by the firm and, on further inquiry, discovered the whole picture, especially after coming across the medical records of the people. The investigation developed into a lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Electric, with a settlement of $333 million in damages. Out of this, Erin got about 2 million in a bonus check and this helped turn her life around.
While things got much better for her when the money came in, it didn’t change her drive to fight for those who couldn’t fight for themselves. She continued working on cases where huge corporations were brought to account for their irresponsible actions which cost a lot of people their lives. Following the case, and especially the movie, she became a well-known name and started receiving many letters from people concerned about the pollution in their own areas. As a result, Erin curated a crowd-sourced map to pin down all the places like Hinkley where people were suffering because of corporations’ negligence.
Erin’s work in the Hinkley was eventually turned into a film, but even that was because of a chance encounter. Following the car crash, she sustained some problems, due to which she went to a chiropractor, with whom she’d often share details of her day. The chiropractor found her life and work very interesting and put her in touch with her another client whose husband was a film producer. Once the film blew up, everyone knew Erin Brockovich. She even appeared in it in the role of a waitress named Julia R. Later, she appeared on ‘Challenge America with Erin Brockovich,’ in three seasons of the Lifetime series, ‘Final Justice With Erin Brockovich,’ as its host, and even had a TV based on her, named ‘Rebel,’ which ran on ABC for one season.
Erin Brockovich Today Runs a Consulting Firm
Erin Brockovich lives in Agoura Hills in the house she purchased from the $2 million paycheck she received after the settlement from PG&E. She was married for a third time in 1999 to Eric Ellis, a musician and actor, but they got divorced in 2012. She has dated a few people since then but has not married again.
After leaving Masry & Vititoe, she worked as a consultant at Weitz and Luxenberg and later joined Mackson Consulting for a joint venture on a mapping project. Eventually, she opened her own consulting firm, Brockovich Research & Consulting, and serves as its president. Since the success of Hinkley, she has continually been involved in projects that hold the authorities accountable for the damage they have inflicted on the environment and the people.
Apart from actively working towards building a better future, she has also authored a few books like, ‘Take It From Me. Life’s A Struggle, But You Can Win,’ and ‘Book Superman’s Not Coming.’ She also speaks at events throughout the world and has appeared in several podcasts, raising awareness about the environment and climate. She has established the Erin Brockovich Foundation to “educate and empower communities in their fight for clean water.”
She has been connected with an Australian firm called Shine Lawyers, which works on PFOA and PFAS contamination in communities across the country. She has also founded The Brockovich Report Newsletter to spread the good word, working with several organizations and speaking up for people all around the world whose lives are adversely impacted by the actions of a few.
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