Activist Movie of the Month is…Erin Brockovich!

So last month’s activist movie was the King’s Speech.
This month’s is an oldie but a goodie…Erin Brockovich.
It’s been playing on TV a lot lately, so I had the chance to rewatch it.

Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts) is a woman who has three children but not much else going for her. She finds work at her lawyer’s law firm and grows intrigued when she stumbles across a file about a real case involving the Pacific Gas& Electric Company. She does some investigative work and, lo and behold, the company has been polluting the ground around its factory with toxic chemicals for years, and has even lied to the residents’ faces about the danger these chemicals present.

Erin exposes their lies, reveals to the community that the pollution is the cause of many of their health problems, and convinces them to sue PG&E. Ultimately, PG&E settles, those who have suffered are compensated, and everyone goes home happy, more or less.

Brockovich is a great movie which straddles many different genres: drama, legal thriller, biography and even romance. It is funny, clever, and inspirational. It’s the classic little-guy versus the big-bad-corporation flick. But most importantly, it’s based on a true story.

In 1996, PG&E settled for $333 million, which remains the largest settlement ever awarded in a direct-action lawsuit in the history of the United States to this day. And Erin is now the president of her own consulting firm, Brockovich Research and Consulting. You can look her up here.

Much like A Civil Action and other stories of lawyers helping innocent victims of negligent, or worse, chemical companies, Erin Brockovich shows that lawyers CAN do good and that pollution is bad. Real bad. Two good lessons to keep in mind!