There are a number of assessments and insights about the Woburn lawsuit depicted in A Civil Action:
Walter Olson: “The Woburn litigation was a disaster for nearly everyone who came near it; an abundance of legal process is no guarantee of either efficiency or justice.”
Walter Olson: “the film does well at capturing many important ‘ground-level’ truths about litigation: its psychological wear and tear as fortunes veer from one camp to the other, its war-like escalation of expense, its witness-coaching and perjuries, its delays and uncertainties.”
Jerome Facher: “the truth [about the Woburn case] is at the bottom of a bottomless pit” and “The truth? I thought you were talking about a court of law. C’mon, you’ve been around long enough to know that the courtroom is not place to look for the truth.”
Dan Kennedy: “there’s no question that much has been learned as a result of Woburn. Schlichtmann himself personifies many of those lessons: these days, he talks about solving such cases through cooperation and mediation rather than courtroom confrontation . . . . Yet the primary lesson of the Woburn story is, or should have been, for government to take responsible steps to protect the public in the first place.”
Address one or more of those above assessments from the Preface with your agreement (in whole or in part) or disagreement (in whole or in part), using and describing points from the lecture, scenes from the film, and points from Reasonable Doubts: A Woburn FAQ to back up and illustrate your analysis and conclusions.
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