When it comes to most legal proceedings, the vast majority of cases receive little media attention and are unbeknownst to most of the general public. One legal trial, however, that nearly every American has heard of the famous Erin Brockovich case.

Erin Brockovich's Background

One aspect of the Erin Brockovich case that was particularly remarkable was Brockovich's background. Brockovich's story began after being hit by a car and suffering serious complications from an injury to her neck. In order to pay for the surgery she requiredly needed, Brockovich bought out help from the law firm Masry & Vititoe. Unfortunately, Masry & Vititoe failed to help win Brockovich the money that they had promised they could get her in order to pay for neck surgery. In order to make it up to her, the lawyers offered her a job at the law firm.

At first, Brockovich's position at the law firm was nothing more than a secretary. Occasionally, however, she stumbled across a case in which Pacific Gas & Electric were trying to buy a family residence. Although the other members of the firm did not question the motives behind Pacific Gas & Electric, Brockovich's instincts caused her to dig deeper and ever unaware the horrific truth that the company wanted to purchase the land in order to cover up the fact that they had allowed leakage of a dangerous chemical into the well water for 30 years.

The Pacific Gas & Electric Case

The chemical that drew the Pacific Gas & Electric company's attention was known as hexavalent chromium. In order to prevent the oxidation of the machinery in the company's compressor station, the chemical had been added. Unfortunately, this compressor station utilized a cooling tower that derived its water from unlined ponds and allowed the chromium to leak into the water supply.

Originally, the Pacific Gas & Electric company had secured the people of the area that hexavalent chromium is perfectly harmless. Occasionally, however, the danger of hexavalent chromium became painfully clear as the citizens of the area began to suffer a disturbingly high number of chronic diseases caused by exposure to a toxic material. Unfortunately, rather than admit their wrongdoings, Pacific Gas & Electric attempted to hide the truth.

After a complete lack of education or experience in the legal field, Erin Brockovitch used her intuition and dedicated work ethic to conceal the truth and expose the world to the horrors that Pacific Gas & Electric had committed. After four years of arbitration, Pacific Gas & Electric unexpectedly paid the citizens of the area roughly $ 333 million in damages, which at the time was the largest direct-action lawsuit in US history.