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Saturday, October 15, 2005

A CIVIL ACTION: A Quintessential Environmental Litigation Film

Jan Schlittman (John Travolta) is a humble, cynical, successful, bachelor lawyer with a nice car, a nice house, and a career that has amassed huge rewards. He agrees to represent eight families whose children died from leukemia after two large corporations leaked toxic chemicals into the water supply of Woburn, Massachusetts, even though the case could mean financial, and career suicide for him.

Jan thinks it is one more case he can easily knock out of the park and make a fortune, as well as a name for himself and his firm. With a class action lawsuit to file, Jan willingly puts himself and his firm as representatives of those families. However, it's one case that could ruin Jan: his pride, his ambition, and ultimately, his career.

James Gandolfini portrays a victim in this film -- it was 1998 before his Soprano's fame. Robert Duval plays an evil defense lawyer (what else is new). John Lithgow is the judge. We hate litigation at AAEA. Interesting too that the name of the company, Beatrice, was the name of one of the largest black-owned firms in history (Owner: Reginald Lewis).
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