6.5/10
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A Civil Action (1998)

PG-13 | | Drama | 8 January 1999 (USA)
The families of children who died sue two companies for dumping toxic waste: a tort so expensive to prove, the case could bankrupt their lawyers.

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Writers:

(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:

$75,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$70,079 (USA) (25 December 1998)

Gross:

$56,702,901 (USA) (30 April 1999)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Steven Zaillian adapted the screenplay with nobody else but Robert Duvall in mind for the role of Jerome Facher. See more »

Goofs

When Jan saw Riley liter on his own property he should've testified to this in court or at the very least tell the judge Riley lack of care for the environment and his utter disrespect for the laws that keep our environments clean, his testimony could only help his case. 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 ...
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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

Hard Workin' Man
(1978)
Music by Jack Nitzsche
Lyrics by Jack Nitzsche, Ry Cooder, Paul Schrader
Performed by Don Van Vliet (as Captain Beefheart)
Courtesy of MCA Records
Under license from Universal Music Special Markets
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Good, but not great
5 September 2004 | by (Earth) – See all my reviews

As far as courtroom dramas go, this is by no means great. I've seen plenty of them, as American law system interests me. The greatest would arguably be A Few Good Men... this is pretty much in the order end of the spectrum, being a fairly slight courtroom drama. It has just enough good points to it to keep it above average, but only *just* enough. I think the way the story was told was fairly standard, but good anyway. I liked Travolta's voice-overs, and liked the fact that it's not the typical cliché-like ending, where, against all odds, the case is won. I won't tell you exactly how it ends, but the ending is pretty good, and not as predictable as many of the courtroom dramas are. The plot is good, and develops, at least in the beginning, pretty good, and with a good pace. However, somewhere in the last half, the pace drops and you find yourself being bored with the film. Too bad, since it started out so promising. The acting is very good; Duvall and Travolta are obviously good, but Macy and Lithgow were surprisingly good(not that they're typically bad, though). The supporting cast also do their jobs well. The characters are well-written, credible, and well-casted. The humor, though rare in the film, is mostly good. All in all, a pretty good courtroom drama, based on a true story, and a basic story of inexperienced against experienced, as they say in the featurette on the DVD. I recommend it to fans of courtroom dramas, and fans of any of the actors. 7/10


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