309: Erin Brockovich
Erin Brockovich is probably the most famous name in Law in the world. Making a name for herself when she went up against utility company Pacific Gas & Electric and helped bring together the largest settlement ever paid in a direct-action lawsuit in U.S. history on behalf of the people of Hinkley, CA who had been affected by polluted water.
Erin went on to become instrumental in numerous other high profile cases, usually up against massive corporate entities who are using their size to get away with either polluting the environment or otherwise neglecting humans basically.
Erin was out in Australia doing work with Shine Lawyers - whom she’s been working with for over ten years now, in particular around the issue of PFAS, a toxic chemical contained in firefighting foam used widely in Australia between the 1970s and 2000. The substance was sprayed over defence force bases, shipping ports, and regional firefighting stations for decades. It leaches into the soil and surrounding waterways, causing contamination. In 1987, American authorities wrote to the Australian Government to warn about the dangers of PFAS but nothing was done. Research in the United States has linked exposure to PFAS to cancer and a dozen other diseases. Residents in many Australian towns, including Bullsbrook in Western Australia where Erin visited last week, say their dogs have been riddled with cancer and die young. They can’t drink the tap water. They bathe infants in bottled water. There have also been reports of birth defects. Unfortunately, it is difficult to prove in Australian law causation between exposure to this chemical and disease.
The people at Shine reached out to me to ask if I’d have Erin on the show, so of course I said yes.
I’m terrified to speak about this kind of thing, so I know enough that backing away from it is not the path to freedom - I have to lean into it.
So I flew my self on a carbon-offset flight down to Melbourne to speak with this incredible human being.
Erin is as you would expect. Incredibly Clever, Blisteringly Fast, Tall, Powerful, Passionate and a Firehose of Fury.
I get why she’s good at what she does.
Because if you’re going toe to toe in a boardroom with a company that’s got political donations protecting them, you’ll want to have a secret weapon up your sleeve - and that secret weapon is Erin Brockovich.
This one blew my socks off.
Find her on instagram @the_real_erin_brockovich, let her know you heard her here.
And come now to the beautiful Langham hotel in Melbourne to sit eye to eye with one of the best legal minds of our time, and one of the most ferocious environmental activists you’ll ever encounter.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Erin Brockovich.
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