Synopsis by Arthur Borman
Directed by Schindler's List 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.
lawyer, courtroom, business-corruption, contamination, leukemia, pollution, toxic-waste, water