She was born Erin Pattee in Lawrence, Kansas, the youngest child of Frank Pattee, an industrial engineer and Betty Jo O'Neal-Pattee, a journalist. Her parents always believed that she could do anything she set her mind to if she learned to focus her amazing energy.
She attended Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, and graduated with an Associate in Applied Arts Degree from Wades Business College in Dallas, Texas. She worked as a management trainee for Kmart in 1981 but quit after a few months and entered some potentially lucrative beauty pageants. After winning Miss Pacific Coast in 1981, she gave up pageant life. Erin, her husband and two children settled in Reno, Nevada. After divorcing, the single mother became a secretary at a brokerage firm where she met and married her second husband. But that marriage was short lived and the now mother of three was solo again.
Up until this point, Erin was the average divorced single mother trying to make a living… until she crossed paths with lawyer, Ed Masry, and changed the course of both their lives.
After being seriously injured in a traffic accident in Reno, Erin moved back to California’s San Fernando Valley, and hired Masry & Vititoe to represent her. They won a small settlement but she still needed work so she got a job at their law firm as a file clerk, it was while organizing papers on a pro bono real estate case that Erin first found medical records that would explode into the largest direct action lawsuit in US history.
Erin’s exhaustive investigation uncovered that Pacific Gas & Electric had been poisoning the small town of Hinkley’s Water for over 30 years. It was because of Erin’s unwavering tenacity that PG & E had been exposed for leaking toxic Chromium 6 into the ground water. This poison affected the health of the population of Hinkley.
Despite the lack of a formal law school education, or any legal education, Erin was instrumental in constructing a case against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) of California in 1993. In 1996, as a result of the largest direct action lawsuit of its kind, spear-headed by Erin and Ed Masry, the utility giant was forced to pay out the largest toxic tort injury settlement in US history: $333 million in damages to more than 600 Hinkley residents.
A movie was made about her and what she did. The movie "Erin Brockovich" tells the story of how the people made it through the litigation that followed. What the contamination was (cancer causing hexavalent chromium), how it got into the peoples water supply; who uncovered PG&E's actions; and what the lawsuit produced. The film turned an unknown legal researcher into a 20th century icon by showcasing how her dogged persistence was the impelling force behind the largest medical settlement lawsuit in history. Although to this day the sight is not completely cleaned up and there are many more victims of the contamination. Erin continues to fight for those victims.
Since the release of the film that shares her story and name, she has hosted Challenge America with Erin Brockovich on ABC and Final Justice on Zone Reality. She is the president of Brockovich Research & Consulting, a consulting firm.
Because of her fighting spirit, Erin has become the champion of countless women and men. She is this generations, “Dear Abby” and in fact receives thousands of “Dear Erin” letters and emails each year from people who are begging for help and support in their own personal struggles. Erin proudly answers every one of them.
As President of Brockovich Research & Consulting, she is currently involved in numerous environmental projects worldwide. She is working with Google to map clusters of illnesses that are reported to her. In the advent of social media popularity, people who have been scattered all over the country and the world have reconnected and sometimes have noticed a common factor of disease. Erin is using this information provided to her by these groups to map out potential clusters of environmental factors contributing to common illnesses.
Erin is one of the most requested speakers on the international lecture circuit and travels the world for personal appearances.
Erin Brockovich is a true American hero who’s icon status and “stick-to-it-iveness” only fuels her determination to expose injustice and lend her voice to those who do not have one.
She has requests for her help in ground water contamination complaints in every state of the US, Australia and other international hot spots. She is currently working on cases in California, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Illinois and Missouri.