However, the case develops a life of its own and takes over the lives of Jan and his firm. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. It was over-wordy, extremely biased, and sloppy with details. Although a filmmaker is not obligated to remain one hundred percent true to the original when transferring a story from the written page to the screen, this is one instance where more of this might have been advisable. He lives and works in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he has taught nonfiction writing at Smith College.
Although it is quite powerful the first time around, it begins to lose its effectiveness through repetition. Although the courtroom drama is compelling, most of the book takes place in the details of the Woburn case, which are shown in minute, sometimes excruciating detail. You think the novel is going to end with a Hurrah! That 95% is mainly comprised of arguing motions after motions, some lawyers engaging in sophistry and word games in responding to discovery questions, battles over who should have to produce what documents, lengthy and often complex written legal memoranda presented to the judge, mediation, and lengthy depositions of the parties, witnesses and experts, often happening in widely ranging areas of the country, among other things. The reader will be amazed to discover the amount of preparation necessary for personal injury litigation and the tremendous cost of such civil suits. While option 2 is still out there, I wouldn't recommend it for people who had the same hopes I did with option 1.
True, Schlictmann technically does score a victory by forcing a major legal settlement with Beatrice Foods and W. Some people think that the cause of the sickness is caused by the water from the wells in Woburn. It's an eye opening account to the flaws in our legal system, especially the autonomy afforded to our courts - they seem to work in concert as a fraternity against Schlictmann late in the novel when the appeals process nears conclusion. 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 scares me to think what would happen with lax environmental laws. When the book begins, a young boy named Jimmy Anderson gets sick. Second, he begins to care too much about justice for them and loses his strategic bearings.
They were looking for the standard Hollywood plot where the little guy overcomes the big guy and right overcomes might. He's fascinated by the law, by its opportunities and maneuverings, by its realities. While option 2 is still out there, I wouldn't recommend it for people who had the same hopes I did with option 1. That was not a failure of the system. There are a few scenes where Travolta gazes out over the polluted areas in question and apparently undergoes an inner moral metamorphosis. My classmates almost universally loved this book; I hated it. Harr structures the work to include a narrator who primarily recounts the events; Jan Schlichtmann represents the plaintiffs' attorney.
I wish the outcome were better, I wish the system caught the A depressing story of injustice and lies and liars. One in a 50,000 might be able to go all the way successfully. My students were very frustrated by the ending. This problem motivates her to pursue the cause of the disease. Clearly, corporations do cause environmental harm, but this is not the whole picture.
Such a film could serve as a springboard for considering the fate of similarly polluted and contaminated communities--Love Canal, Three Mile Island--and what their experiences have been in the American judicial system fighting the corporations responsible for their conditions. This book had me thrilled until the very end when time after time justice and a sense of right was ignored. But ultimately, just like the Greeks in 300, Schlictmann standing up against more powerful forces simply causes him to lose everything. Unfortunately, Harr frames his story in a way that is ultimately far too simplistic. It's a fascinating, relatively suspenseful account of a modern-day tragedy that offers the truest view of civil litigation, at least in the federal courts.
Jan ends up alone, living in a small apartment and running a small-time law practice. Not to mention being the founder and practice of the lucrative law firm he runs with his Boston partners, all in a case's settlement. The residents were fighting against powerful conglomerates, the government and great odds. He allows his pride to take over, making outrageous demands and deciding that he must win at all costs. More importantly, corporations are not the only ones responsible for environmental harm. In the end, Schlichtmann must accept a less-than-attractive settlement from Grace Chemical, in order to provide the families some compensation and to repay creditors, netting himself a mere thirty thousand dollars. 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.
He lacked the mental and material resources to do the job correctly. This book is about a mystery case of the sickness that is going around infecting people in Woburn. He will proceed to sacrifice everything--his money, his property, his firm and his reputation--to see the case through to the end. I was dismayed the our justice system and that a judge could be unreasonable and get away with it. The synopsis below may give away important plot points.
It took Jan Schlichtmann several years to settle his debts, but only one year to fall off Boston's Ten Most Eligible Bachelors list. Grace relatively underwhelmed by paying what is for them a relatively inexpensive settlement fee and Schlichtmann going into bankruptcy and shutting down his law practice after spending too much on the case. I just remember that it made me both angry and hopeful. Beatrice Foods was the parent company of W. That's why he turns down the delegation of parents who tell about the deaths of their children: He doesn't see enough money in it to justify the risk. Hubris and audacity are on display by many characters.