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A Civil Action A frightening look at how the legal system can be completely biased, self serving, and how one judge can destroy the lives of so many not to mention the Court of Appeals holding up inadequate, ridiculous decisions all based on res judicata For anyone wanting to be a lawyer, or who is currently a lawyer, this book resonates Incredibly well researched by the author You think the novel is going to end with a Hurrah , but instead goes a completely different way, inevitably questioning how long you should hang on, and when it is time to give up. Excellent Excellent Excellent After the first couple of pages, the book took off and held me on the edge of the seat right through to the end It s not very often that I read into the wee hours of the morning to finish a book, but this one grabbed and held me through and through There was just no way I was going to turn out the light and roll over.So this book was exciting and emotional At times I couldn t believe that such events were happening here in the US in ordinary towns I was angry at the corporate greed and denial with absolutely no responsibility for their actions I was dismayed the our justice system and that a judge could be unreasonable and get away with it No wonder it was so challenging and devastating for the prosecution My heart ached for the people who lost children and family members due to drinking water with toxic chemicals It scares me to think what would happen with lax environmental laws.This book is perhaps some vindication, but it s also a wake up call to all of us Could this happen to me There s a lot to think about here.Highly recommend to anyone who likes suspense and a legal thriller. What do large companies WR Grace Beatice think of profit or the harm their products bring to people This book and movie shows a lawyer fighting a losing battle no matter what happens to him There are parts hard to read but it is great.You must see the movie Cast John Travola, Robert Duvall, William MacyEnding quotes from the movie A Judge Skinner found that John Riley deliberately concealed evidence at the trial His tannery was torn down in 1990.W.R Grace was indicted by the Grand Jury for making false statements regarding its use of TCE regarding its use of the chemicals TCE, acetone and toluene The company pleaded no contest to the acetone charge It s Worburn, MA Plant closed in 1990.Faced with the prospect of returning to court, the two companies WR Grace Beatice agreed to pay their share of the 69.4 million dollars in cleanup costs the largest, most expensive project of its kind in New England history It took Jan Schlichtmann several years to settle his debts, but only one year to fall off Boston s Ten Most Eligible Bachelors list Jan Schlichtmann lawyer character in the book NYT review CIVIL ACTION By Jonathan Harr Jan Schlichtmann lawyer character in the book IMDb credit to Jonathan Harr book used for movie YouTube Movie trailer Amazingly reported and beautifully written Should be required reading, not just in law schools, but all schools, period Best GR review I saw I have friends who live in Woburn I think I ll drink bottled water when I go visit A Civil Action is a non fiction book by Jonathan Harr about a water contamination case in Woburn, Massachusetts, in the 1980s After finding that her child is diagnosed with leukemia, Anne Anderson notices a high prevalence of leukemia, a relatively rare disease, in her city Eventually she gathers other families and seeks a lawyer, Jan Schlichtmann, to consider their options.Schlichtmann originally decides not to take the case due to both the lack of evidence and a clear defendant Later picking up the case, Schlichtmann finds evidence suggesting trichloroethylene TCE contamination of the town s water supply by Riley Tannery, a subsidiary of Beatrice Foods a chemical company, W R Grace and another company named Unifirst.In the course of the lawsuit Schlichtmann gets other attorneys to assist him He spends lavishly as he had in his prior lawsuits, but the length of the discovery process and trial stretch all of their assets to their limit. An amazing book that opens a window on the world of civil lawsuits.The book concerns a leukemia cancer cluster of half a dozen children that popped up in the mid 1970s, in Woburn, Massachusetts, about half an hour North of Boston Besides the cancers, the children and their families also developed a host of strange ailments rashes, fatigue, headaches, constant nausea After some tests it was proved that two wells that were pumping Woburn s water were infested with trichloroethylene TCE , and were ordered shut down It looked like two factories in the area, one owned by W.R Grace and the other by Beatrice Foods, might have been the culprits Jan Schlichtmann, a relative newbie lawyer, took the families case, and then almost bankrupted his own firm in the process He spent over two million dollars on geologists, epidemiologists, doctors, and law professors, as well as on medical and groundwater tests, all trying to prove that the two companies knowingly polluted the water and poisoned his clients The discovery process lead to years of deposed witnesses and experts, and the actual trial lasted for months Of course, the aftermath of appeals and counter appeals, settlement offers and negotiations, lasted for years It s a real life Jarndyce v Jarndyce, straight out of Dickens This may sound like potentially tedious material, but Jonathan Harr, a former writer for the New Yorker, makes it constantly vital, alive, and real The people in the story, from the fanatically determined Schlichtmann to the droll Jer Facher, the Hale Dorr lawyer for Beatrice, to the ornery District Judge Walter Skinner, to the families of the children, all come across with their own qualities and foibles, and one gets the sense of a real honest appraisal of their characters and their role in the drama The trial and discovery process offer innumerable twists, and demonstrate the real thought and intelligence that must be put into these efforts by all sides.So I heartily recommend this for anyone wanting to read about the American legal system in process, or for anyone who just loves a great story. I m in the business This was an accurate and well written book about an actual case, with its myriad twists and turns Harr presents the events like it s a suspense mystery novel but the book is all the fascinating because it s a true story. It is easy to miss the lesson of this very interesting book Perhaps, even Jonathan Harr did not fully understand the real meaning of the story that he very ably delivers A CIVIL ACTION is the true account of a civil lawsuit brought by a group of parents seeking to recover damages from two large corporations who polluted their local water supply causing serious illness to the families in their community The story is sometimes cited as an illustration of how our legal system has gone awry.That is not the key point at all Rather, the plaintiffs chose as their lawyer a man who was unqualified to represent them He was never suited for the difficult job that faced him He lacked the mental and material resources to do the job correctly Notwithstanding and despite his inexperience, he was energetic and aggressive He managed to maneuver the defendants into each offering him a settlement that together would have been quite large enough to constitute a serious win in any lawyer s understanding of that term But sadly, even tragically, he was too youthful to have the judgment to accept the win when it was offered His mistake resulted in very unhappy consequences for his clients.That was not a failure of the system That was a failure of a particular man. An inside look at the case that made Jan Schlictmann famous unscrupulous corporations poisoning the ground water supply, causing deaths and illness in the local community, and working to cover it up Really sheds light on the adverse effects of litigation on plaintiffs attorneys as opposed to Class Action, which sheds light on the adverse effects of litigation on plainitffs You really have to be able to disconnect and balance, or else a case can eat you alive And no matter how right you are, life just sometimes is the pits, like when opposing counsel might be rather cozy with a judge who doesn t want his friend to look bad This book will also make anyone think twice about Tea Party Republican claims that corporations know best and we have too much regulation and regulations kill jobs Regulations might kill a job or two, but unregulated corporations kill people This book makes the reader realize he or she must add this reality to the equation before continuing to support or disparage a particular political position. I had hoped a good night s sleep would put me in a better frame of mind to review this book, but as just the thought of A Civil Action brings several vulgar adjectives to mind, it doesn t look like my plan worked Oh well, prepare for the real deal My classmates almost universally loved this book I hated it It was over wordy, extremely biased, and sloppy with details For most of the book, I was ready to give it two stars and call it excessively dull, but the last hundred pages were too egregious to ignore I wouldn t accept this kind of bathos in my fiction I fail to see why I should tolerate it in my non fiction I suppose a great deal of my beef with this book is that the author never quite won me over to his hero, Schlichtmann Despite the author s evident hero worship, I found Schlichtmann obnoxious and unprofessional throughout While I could sympathize with the families who lost their children, my general dislike for the plaintiffs and their case made it hard to get outraged, or even really care The author tries to make this a story about big business and corrupt government squashing the little guyand yet such a characterization falsely minimizes the realities and nuances of what happened I just don t buy that the defendants were the monsters the author makes them out to be And don t give me this crap about him being unbiased, the author clearly has an agenda here How can he not He admits to spending most of the trial in Schlichtmann s office Besides being an extreme telling of one side, the author tries to drum up some romance for Schlichtmann by bringing in his girlfriend and another girl trying to win his affection It was unnecessary This book was already too long and detailed without side stories that don t go anywhere A Civil Action would make lousy fiction it makes horrendously boring non fiction You know, there is a bright side to all this I can now adamantly cross off environmental law and personal injury from the types of law I might ever, possibly consider studying.


About the Author: Jonathan Harr

Jonathan Harr is an American writer, best known for A Civil Action.Harr was born in Beloit, Wisconsin His sister, Cynthia Lauwers, lives in North Andover, Massachusetts He lives and works in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he has taught nonfiction writing at Smith College He is a former staff writer at New England Monthly and has written for The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine Har


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