Erin Brockovich True Story at Reel Faces

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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,

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

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

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
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
and Brockovich’s
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?

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

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, “…no 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:
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

to Learn More:

Brockovich / Roger Ebert’s Review

Fumento’s Article Attacking the Film’s Claims

Brockovich’s Response to Michael Fumento

Brockovich’s Junk Science
by Leon Jaroff at

Brockovich”: The Real Story
by Kathleen Sharp at

More About the Chemical in Question – Chromium-6 (

Review of Hexavalent Chromium – 1998 U.S. EPA
v PG&E Case Recap at

& Vititoe Law Offices Site (Brockovich’s Employers)

Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)

Shooting Script

Universal Pictures Erin Brockovich Movie Site

the Erin Brockovich Movie Trailer:


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