Updated April 4, 2007.
Prepared by Mary Whisner.
"A Civil Action," starring John Travolta, was the top-grossing theatrical
release the week it opened. If you have seen the movie, you might be curious about the
case it depicts. This page gives you some leads.
Jonathan Harr, A Civil Action (New York: Vintage Books, 1996). KF228.A7H37 1996
at Classified Stacks (Gallagher Law Library).
Reading Group Guide
by the publisher.
Selected book reviews
- Marya Rose, Tort Reform for a Civilized Society? Implications of Tort Reform for
Toxic Tort Lawsuits, 17 B.C. Third World L.J. 133-53 (1997).
(Shelved by title at Compact Stack)
- Robert F. Blomquist, Bottomless Pit: Toxic Trials, The American Legal Profession, and
Popular Perceptions of the Law, 81 Cornell L. Rev. 953-88. (Shelved by title at Compact
Published opinions and related cases
- Anderson v. Cryovac, Inc., 96 F.R.D. 431(D. Mass. 1983)
- Anderson v. W.R. Grace & Co., 628 F. Supp. 1219 (D. Mass. 1986)
- Anderson v. Cryovac, Inc., 805 F.2d 1 (1st Cir. Mass. 1986)
- Anderson v. Cryovac, Inc., 862 F.2d 910 (1st Cir. Mass. 1988), on remand, Anderson
v. Beatrice Foods Co., 127 F.R.D. 1 (D. Mass. 1989)
- Anderson v. Beatrice Foods Co., 129 F.R.D. 394 (D. Mass. 1989), aff'd, 900
F.2d 388 (1st Cir.), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 891 (1990)
Lewis A. Grossman & Robert. G. Vaughn, A Documentary Companion to A Civil
Action: With Notes, Comments, and Questions (3d ed.). KF228.A7G76
2006 at Classified Stacks
- The movies "official website" includes
information about the stars, information about the case, and links to other sites.
- Court TV has an
about the movie and the lawsuit.
- W.R. Grace, one of the defendants in the suit, has a
website with its perspective on
the suit, the book, and the movie.
- Daniel D. Kennedy, a reporter who wrote for the Woburn Daily Times Chronicle from
1979 to 1989 and now writes for the Boston Phoenix, has a
website with news stories
and interviews from his years covering the case.
The latest story: just before the release of the film, the former manager of the tannery
in the case filed a libel suit against Jonathan Harr for his portrayal in the book.
- Northshore Online
contains investigative news stories from 1979-81 about the radiation and
- Lessons from Woburn Project,
sponsored by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society (Harvard Law School) and the
Films for Justice Institute (Seattle University School of Law), includes video and other
material from an online conference with many of the trial participants on January 30,
1999. Three videotapes and an accompanying coursebook are based on 35
hours of interviews. The series is described
and videoclips are available.
- A geological sciences class at Ohio State University uses the lawsuit
as a case study. A
includes court exhibits, technical documents, and photos.
- Woburn wasnt the only place where toxics were dumped. If you are interested in the
questions raised by "A Civil Action," you might want to look at "Love Canal
@ 20," an exhibit developed by the Science and Engineering Library
at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Also of interest is SUNY Buffalos
Love Canal collection.
The sites include maps and other graphical information about Love Canal and links to
dozens of other sources about Love Canal and other toxic dumps.
- Brandeis University has a
webpage about A Civil Action,
sponsored by the Brandeis University Libraries and the New Student Forum.
It includes a biographical sketch of Jonathan Harr, bibliographies, and links to related
- Articles from "Picturing Justice," a website about law and
- The Movie
Review Query Engine contains more than 100 links to reviews of A