Environmental activist Erin Brockovich, who is also a media personality, rose to fame after working as a legal clerk at law firm Masry & Vititoe. She successfully built the case against Pacific Gas and Electric which led to the largest settlement ever paid in a lawsuit in the United States.
Erin Brockovich: Biography
Erin Brockovich was born Erin Pattee, one of four children to Betty Jo (nee O’Neal) and Frank Pattee on June 22, 1960, in Lawrence, Kansas. Her father was a former American football player turned Industrial engineer while her mother was a journalist. Her siblings are Frank Jr., Thomas, and Jodie Pattee.
Brockovich attended Lawrence High School before going on to enrol at Kansas State University. She however later transferred to Wade College in Dallas Texas where she graduated in 1980 with an Associate Degree in Applied Arts. After graduating, she took a job as a management trainee for Kmart in Newport Beach, California before later deciding to quit to become a model. She first entered a local beauty pageant, Miss Pacific Coast, in 1981, which she won.
She, however, abandoned the crown after she found love, moving around the country with her family until the marriage collapsed. She went on to find work as an assistant at a brokerage firm in Reno, Nevada. A few years later, Brokovich was involved in an almost fatal car accident that required her to have neck surgery. She went on to sue the other party involved through a San Fernando, California-based law firm Masry&Vititoe and was eventually awarded a settlement. The money was however very little and could not support her and her family, prompting her to get a job to make ends meet.
One of her attorneys, Ed Masry, was said to have felt sorry for her and offered her a clerical job at his firm which she took wholeheartedly. One day, while carrying out her usual day to day activities, Brokovich stumbled upon documents involving utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) that included blood samples in its paperwork. Her curiosity was aroused and Brokovich asked her bosses for permission to further explore the case. She subsequently dug through tons of paperwork which led her to visit the town of Hinkley, located in the Californian desert, where a number of people had fallen ill. Following further investigations, Erin Brockovich found that the illnesses were due to a high level of hexavalent chromium found in the town’s drinking water.
The substance was traced back to PG&E’s station in Hinkley and subsequently led to a class action lawsuit of more than 600 Hinkley residents. After three years, the case was settled in 1996 for a record settlement fee of $333 million. For her relentless pursuit of the issue, Erin Brockovich was given a fee of $2.5 million. The case received nationwide coverage and got the attention of Hollywood producers who turned the story into the movie Erin Brokovich (2000) with the main character being portrayed by Julia Roberts.
The movie was a critical and commercial success, raking in more than $250 million and winning several awards. It also brought huge fame for the real Erin Brockovich as she embarked on a career in environmental activism and advocacy while also publishing a number of books and becoming a public speaker. She has since gone on to be involved in dozens of cases against giants in the automobile, pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries while also setting up a consultancy firm that tracks environmental hazards around the world.
Who is Erin Brockovich’s Husband? Her Children
Erin Brockovich has been married three times. Her first marriage was to restaurant manager turned actor, Shawn Brown, who is best known for his work in the movies R.O.T.O.R. (1987) and Spunky Airlines (2010). The couple got married in 1982 and were blessed with two children; Matthew Brown born in 1983 and Katie Brown born in 1985. In December 1987, the pair called time on their marriage and decided to go their separate ways.
Her second marriage was to stockbroker Steven Brockovich whom she met while working as a secretary at a brokerage firm in Reno, California. The two got married in 1989 and had one child, her third and final child named Elizabeth, born in 1991. The following year, Erin and Steven divorced. She dated a number of people between that time and 1999 when she met actor Eric L. Ellis who is best known for his work on Coming to America (1988), Major Payne (1995) and Showgirls (1995). The couple got married in March 1999 and have since remained an item.