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A Civil Action Details


Directed by screenwriter Steve Zaillian, this courtroom drama is based on a true story and non-fiction book by Jonathan Harr. The case revolves around an incident in 1979 in East Woburn, MA, where two drinking wells supplying water to the town were found to be contaminated with industrial solvents. When toxic waste was discovered later that year, suspicions arose that the local factories caused the pollution. The residents felt these companies were responsible for the unusually high rate of leukemia deaths amongst the town's children. Anne Anderson (Kathleen Quinlan), a mother who lost her son Jimmy to leukemia, fronts an effort to bring a lawsuit against the major conglomerates Beatrice Foods and W. R. Grace & Co for their pollution crimes -- a heavy-duty problem, because these companies have the money to squash the less powerful citizens. Enter Jan Schlichtmann (John Travolta), a personal injury lawyer whose small law firm is hired to sue these industrial giants for millions of dollars in damages. He's up against Jerome Facher (Robert Duvall) and William Cheeseman (Bruce Norris), high-priced lawyers who represent the big companies. Most of the film takes place in the courtroom during the trial. It also features William H. Macy as Schlichtmann's accountant and John Lithgow as the judge. ~ Arthur Borman, Rovi

  • Release date:January 8, 1998


Awarded by
Screen Actors Guild Robert Duvall Best Supporting Actor 1998 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Robert Duvall Best Supporting Actor 1998 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Conrad L. Hall Best Cinematography 1998 Nominee


John Travolta
as Jan Schlichtmann
Robert Duvall
as Jerome Facher
Tony Shalhoub
as Kevin Conway
William H. Macy
as James Gordon
Zeljko Ivanek
as Bill Crowley
Bruce Norris
as William Cheeseman
John Lithgow
as Judge Skinner
Kathleen Quinlan
as Anne Anderson
Peter Jacobson
as Neil Jacobs
Sydney Pollack
as Al Eustis
Kathy Bates
as Judge (uncredited)
James Gandolfini
as Al Love
Kathy Bates
as Judge (uncredited)


Steven Zaillian
Scott Rudin
Rachel Pfeffer
Robert Redford
Steven Zaillian
Jonathan Harr
Book Author
Conrad L. Hall
Danny Elfman
Composer (Music Score)
Wayne Wahrman
David Gropman
Production Designer
David J. Bomba
Art Director
David McGiffert
Associate Producer
Henry J. Golas
Associate Producer
David Wisnievitz
Executive Producer
Steven Zaillian
Executive Producer
Shay Cunliffe
Costume Designer
David MacMillan
Sound/Sound Designer
David McGiffert
First Assistant Director
Mario Roberts
Avy Kaufman