Erin Brockovich, Environmental Activist
Brockovich on her childhood struggle with dyslexia, being a single mother of three, and how she catalyzed the groundbreaking $333 million case against Pacific Gas & Electric.
Brockovich on her childhood struggle with dyslexia, being a single mother of three, and how she spearheaded the largest direct action lawsuit of its kind against Pacific Gas and Electric Company of California.
ERIN BROCKOVICH: In high school, I was labeled the girl least likely to succeed. So I don't think that they ever saw certainly what I do today coming. I was a dyslexic every time I came home from school with another D stamped on a test and feeling defeated. My mom would say, oh, you have to buck up there and where's your sticktoitiveness? And that struck a chord.
Even today, when I hit that wall, I hear my mother-- sticktoitiveness. It's that persistence. It's that obligation. It's that stubbornness, and you can rise. And you can do it.
I saw medical records in there, and they were blood test results of two little girls. All these autoimmune problems. I couldn't even pronounce some of them.
May not have been the brightest tack in the box, but I certainly knew that the autoimmune system was something that would be very vital to how we survive in life. And if it's impaired, what could it lead to? And that's when I asked Mr. Masry if I could look further into the case.
Roberta shared stories with me about other neighbors. They were complaining not necessarily of diseases at first but chronic nosebleeds, chronic skin rashes, chronic headaches, chronic fatigue, and chronic respiratory problems. I just found it odd, and that's when I really began to start digging. Going back out there and getting well samples myself and getting experts together and finding the documents and showing the readings.
We uncovered what was a massive groundwater contamination. This groundwater had been contaminated since the '60s. PG&E knew it. It was covered up.
It was a long process. There was moments where every single one of us felt defeated. Maybe we're in over our heads. And everybody said this is PG&E. You can't take on this company.
I'll never forget the day Ed Masry called me into his office, and Ed said, you know, I think we're going to have to give it up. I said, are you kidding me? We're sitting in this library of all of these law books that became these laws. How is it you think that came to be, Ed?
Because somebody somewhere went out on a limb, they created law. They changed a life. They made a difference, and you're going to give up. No. So I'm like, let's go get them, and we did.
I was overjoyed. Money wasn't going to give these people that their lost lives, their lost spouses, or children. I don't know that you ever had to give them a dime. The victory was they were heard. The victory was that they hoped something could change in the future.
Hinckley was a microcosm. I'm dealing with 1900 Hinckley's in the United States alone, and I think those people are a beautiful representation of their uprising to be heard. Not for the sake of the suits or for the money but for the sake of what's right.