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Erin Brokovich

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Ms. Brockovich did not have a paralegal education. What skills did she have to develop and hone on her own without the formal education? Erin Brockovich, had no formal skills whatsoever. She had to develop professional skills, she had to learn how to dress, how to present herself in a professional manner, and how to not be so vulgar when speaking.

Which jobs or what aspects of her education do you think assisted her in developing these skills? Being that Erin was savvy enough to get a job at a law firm as a filing clerk. She opened the door for herself, to be able to hone in on her analytical legal skills. Also, her job presented her with the opportunity to read documents carefully so that she could better learn her job. Furthermore, Erin was already set up with the right skills to succeed she just needed this opportunity to utilize those skills and make them better.

The case Brockovich worked on did not start out as a tort case.

What did the medical records have to do with the real estate transaction? The residents of Hinkley became aware of the dangers of the chemical chromium 6. Erin Brockovich exposed a connection between real estate documents and medical records. The real estate documents showed PG&E’s purchase of multiple pieces of Hinkley property. Further, there was evidence that 75% of the houses and buildings that PG&E bought were destroyed due to the company’s response to vandalism. These records caught Brockovich’s attention due to the fact that they were filed with medical records indicating respiratory problems experienced by Hinkley residents. Brockovich believed that PG&E was covering up some sort of contamination by buying and destroying the properties. Upon further investigation, she discovered additional documents that exposed that on December 7, 1987 officials from PG&E advised the State of California they had detected levels of hexavalent chromium (chrome 6) in a groundwater monitoring well north of the compressor station’s waste water ponds. The levels were ten times greater than the maximum amount allowed by law.

PG&E further attempted to corrupt the evidence against them by distorting a previous medical study on chromium 6’s carcinogenic effects in order to divert their responsibility for what happened to the victims. In their attempt to manipulate evidence PG&E persuaded a respected Chinese scientist to participate in an update of his 1987 study that found a link between chromium-contaminated water in rural China and an increase in villagers’ cancer rates (Smith 2006). In the new study paid for by PG&E environmental consultants wrote the article rather than the scientist that performed the study. The study found that there was no link between increased rates of cancer and chromium IV poisoning. The results were questionable not only because it was paid for and the scientist who completed the research did not write it but also because incorrect epidemiological terms were used and the researcher’s name was misspelled multiple times.

How did it evolve into a tort case and what type of tort case was this? Due to the fact that this case involved injury by toxic waste it evolved into a toxic waste tort case.

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