A Civil Action - Movie

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A Civil Action

The movie A Civil Action is focused on describing and explaining what really goes on in a court of law. The case the movie deals with is a small firm going after a national corporation in order to get them to apologize for what they did to the city’s water. It is believed that the company would dump harmful waste such as trichloroethylene into the back of their site where the company was located into a small running river. However, the river was connected to the city’s water wells and caused harm to many children that drank the water. The way each lawsuit is handled can be related to a sociological perspective. The Marxist approach can best explain the process and outcome of the case in A Civil Action. Section 1:

Karl Marx sided with three principles regarding law and how it relates to the upper and lower classes in society. They are: law is a product of evolving economic forces; law is a tool used by the ruling class to maintain its power over the lower class and the means of production are owned by the ruling class. Marx believed that law is a structure of power. In this case the victims of families were the working class and the powerful corporations such as Beatrice Foods and W.R. Grace and Company are the ruling class. These two companies own their means of production meaning they do not need resources from others in order to keep their businesses running smoothly.

Facher and Cheeseman, the defendants of the case, knew that the opposing side was not set financially. This gave them the opportunity to draw out the case as long as possible while Schlichtmann’s firm would be struggling to get by financially day by day. Not only to the defendants control the means of production but also they had professionals to clean up the “dirty” work that could possibly cause harm to others. This way it is even more difficult to find flaws in the company and reveal their mistakes.

However this case does relate to a Marxist approach when dealing with the conflict theory. Marx believed that the bourgeoisie would always rule over the proletariat unless the members of proletariat would rise up and rebel against the ruling class. The case from this movie relates to Marx’s conflict theory because it shows what the working class had to rebel against. At first Anne Anderson and other affected families did not agree that $8 million was enough in the settlement. The bourgeoisie in A Civil Action committed crimes of dumping toxic waste and illegally withholding information.

All of the complaining by families about the settlement not being enough forced Jan Schlichtmann to go back to the “board” and find more information on the case. Eventually Schlichtmann found enough information to find that the defendant’s were guilty, but it was financially hard for him to start an appeals case with no other lawyers on his side. His lawyers within the firm left after they decided the firm was not working collectively as a team. This case relates to Marx’s theory because the working class families in the movie eventually get a settlement that they deserve after the losses that occurred to them. The two huge corporations admitted that they had done wrong and also provided funds in hopes of the situation not happening again. Section 2:

The research for this lawsuit begins when Anne Anderson’s son dies of leukemia. She believes that there are a number of harmful toxins that are dumped into the river that is connected to the city’s drinking water located in Woburn, Massachusetts. Between 15 years after the first incident, 12 children around the city of Woburn die from the effects of leukemia. Other families agreed with Anne Anderson that their children contracted leukemia from drinking the city’s water through the tap available in homes. Anne Anderson gets all of the families’ children who die from leukemia to group together and get Jan Schlichtmann to represent them as their lawyer. When Anne Anderson...
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