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A Civil Action (1998)

 -  Drama  -  8 January 1999 (USA)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 20,813 users   Metascore: 68/100
Reviews: 176 user | 108 critic | 26 from Metacritic.com

The families of children who died sue two companies for dumping toxic waste: a tort so expensive to prove, the case could bankrupt their lawyer.

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(book), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Bruce Norris ...
William Cheeseman
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Neil Jacobs
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Pinder
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Richard Aufiero
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Al Eustis
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Storyline

Jan Schlichtmann, a tenacious lawyer, is addressed by a group of families. When investigating the seemingly non-profiting case, he finds it to be a major environmental issue that has a lot of impact potential. A leather production company could be responsible for several deadly cases of leukemia, but also is the main employer for the area. Schlichtmann and his three colleagues set out to have the company forced to decontaminate the affected areas, and of course to sue for a major sum of compensation. But the lawyers of the leather company's mother company are not easy to get to, and soon Schlichtmann and his friends find themselves in a battle of mere survival. Written by Julian Reischl <julianreischl@mac.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Justice has its price.

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

8 January 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Una acción civil  »

Box Office

Budget:

$60,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£332,872 (UK) (9 April 1999)

Gross:

$56,702,901 (USA) (30 April 1999)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| |

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A number of scenes described in the book are reproduced in the film, such as Facher's asking for the hotel pen at the settlement conference, Schlictmann's meeting with Eustis at the Harvard Club in New York, Gordon's attempts to keep the firm solvent (even purchasing lottery tickets and giving money to televangelists) and Riley's behavior at his deposition. See more »

Goofs

When Boston and Jan Schlichtmann's office suffers a widespread power outage during an evening thunderstorm, he uses a PBX90 AT&T Merlin office phone which would've been inoperable without AC electricity thus he couldn't have called Al Eustis at W.R. Grace. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Jan Schlichtmann: [narrating] It's like this. A dead plaintiff is rarely worth as much as a living, severely-maimed plaintiff. However, if it's a long slow agonizing death, as opposed to a quick drowning or car wreck, the value can rise considerably. A dead adult in his 20s is generally worth less than one who is middle aged. A dead woman less than a dead man. A single adult less than one who's married. Black less than white. Poor less than rich. The perfect victim is a white male professional, 40 ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The producers wish to thank the people of Boston, Waltham, Northbridge, Charlestown, Dedham, Brimfield and Palmer, MA. See more »

Connections

Featured in The 71st Annual Academy Awards (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Take Me to the River
(1973)
Music and Lyrics by Al Green and Teenie Hodges
Performed by Talking Heads
Courtesy of Sire Records Company
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products and licensed courtesy of EMI Records Ltd.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A Civil Action
25 July 1999 | by (Marietta, OH) – See all my reviews

Engrossing drama about a slick lawyer (Travolta) who takes on a civil case involving the death of eight children from leukimia after toxic chemicals were dumped into the water supply in a small Massachusetts town. Taken at first for the glory, but when the case becomes a issue worth fighting for, the lawyer learns more about humanity and passion than he ever knew. Startling film under the direction of Steven Zallian with standout performances from Duvall, scene stealing as Travolta's pompous courtroom adversary and Macy, razor sharp as always, as financial advisor at Travolta's firm.


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