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A Civil Action (1998)

 -  Drama  -  8 January 1999 (USA)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 20,208 users   Metascore: 68/100
Reviews: 174 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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Title: A Civil Action (1998)

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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:

A Civil Action  »

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:

1.85 : 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

At the meeting in the hotel where Jan asks for $300+ million, Cheeseman begins calculating the figures on a pad of paper with his left hand. A cut to an over-the-shoulder shot shows him writing the figures with his right hand. 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

Theme
from A Summer Place (1959)
Music by Max Steiner
Performed by Percy Faith and His Orchestra (uncredited)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Well made drama about the more important things
27 January 2001 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

John Travolta gives a pretty good performance here in Steve Zaillan's (scripter of Schindler's List) Civil Action as a hot shot lawyer who gets a case of people in a small town poisoned by the local water. Then the lawsuit begins, though we learn more here than any Grisham film. A film about being humane and trying to do the right thing over money. The entire supporting cast is a big boost, including Robert Duvall as the opposing attorney, William H. Macy, Tony Shalhoub as Travolta's attorney's, Kathleen Quinlann who is the heart of the movie and James Gandolfini as a resident. A


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