History Literature / ACivilAction

24th Jul '16 4:59:22 AM mavacca
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** At the beginning of the movie John Travolta plays Jan Schlichtmann as a huge self-centered {{jerkass}}, who cares only about himself and even goes so far to say that the only good thing about the Woburn case is the ďtheatrical valueĒ of eight dead kids (thatís before discovering that the case is against two deep-pockets defendants, of course). He only [[HeelFaceTurn becomes more sympathetic]], as he becomes more involved with the suffering of the families he is representing. The real Schlichtmann was [[CrusadingLawyer much more idealistic]]: he decided to pursue a career in law only after having watched [[RichardNixon the Watergate hearings]] and having discovered through his work for the American Civil Liberties Union that the legal system could be used to defend the powerless and the weak. He even waived the chance of working for one of the best law firms of the nation because the partner interviewing him questioned his work on behalf of the minorities and the poor.
** In the movie the Woburn case is selected by Kevin Conway (one of Janís associates, played by Actor/TonyShalhoub) and Jan is vehemently against accepting it, considering it a useless waste of time and money. In {{real life}}, the Woburn case was Janís pet project while he was trying to build his legal practice and it was the careful Conway who insisted that he let it go, [[TheCassandra correctly assessing that it would be a very difficult case to prove and it could become way more expensive than the firm could afford]].
23rd Jul '16 4:58:11 AM mavacca
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* BunnyEarsLawyer: Jerome Facher is a literal one. His behaviour is, to say the least, unusual for a lawyer. He is a huge baseball fan, to the point of playing with a ball during conference calls with a co-defendant's attorney in a serious case. He always uses an old briefcase, with

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* BunnyEarsLawyer: Jerome Facher is a literal one. His behaviour is, to say the least, unusual for a lawyer. lawyer, to the point that he sometimes seems an old oddball. He is a huge baseball fan, to the point of playing with a ball during a conference calls call with a co-defendant's attorney in a serious case. He always uses an old briefcase, with a cartoon character sticker on it, which keeps breaking up and that he keeps repairing with huge amounts of duct tape, even in the courtroom during an hearing. But he is very well versed in civil procedure law and he is a skilled and experienced litigator and [[TheChessmaster a cunning strategist]], the kind of lawyer every sensible defendant would like to have on his side during a complicated lawsuit.
23rd Jul '16 4:43:11 AM mavacca
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* BunnyEarsLawyer: Jerome Facher is a literal one. His behaviour is, to say the least, unusual for a lawyer. He is a huge baseball fan, to the point of playing with a ball during conference calls with a co-defendant's attorney in a serious case. He always uses an old briefcase, with



* CommonNonsenseJury: [[spoiler: Averted. The case against Beatrice is dismissed, but it is mainly because Jan did not have the evidence to support it.]]

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* CommonNonsenseJury: [[spoiler: Averted.[[InvokedTrope Invoked]] by Jan during his chat with Facher in the hallway of the Courthouse while they are waiting for the Jury's verdict. Ultimately averted. The case against Beatrice is dismissed, but it is mainly because Jan did not have the evidence to support it.]]



* TheJudge: Walter Jay Skinner, whose management of the case was controversial. In the film, he is clearly unimpressed (and sometimes he is outright exasperated) by Jan's antics.

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* TheJudge: Walter Jay Skinner, whose management of the case was controversial. In the film, he is clearly unimpressed (and sometimes he is outright exasperated) by Jan's antics.{{courtroom antics}}.
20th Jul '16 10:12:12 PM mavacca
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* ObfuscatingStupidity: If you are a lawyer representing a plaintiff and the defendant is represented by Jerome Facher, DO NOT be fooled by his dismissive behaviour and by its eccentricities.

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* ObfuscatingStupidity: If you are a lawyer representing a plaintiff and the defendant is represented by Jerome Facher, DO NOT be fooled by his dismissive behaviour and by its his eccentricities.
20th Jul '16 3:14:03 PM mavacca
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* DavidVersusGoliath: This film is the story of a small law firm specialized in personal injury law representing six middle-class families in a civil action against two mega-corporations and their first-rate lawyers, so this trope is invoked almost since the beginning. This is even lampashaded in Janís v.o. monologue below. [[spoiler:Ultimately, this trope is cruelly subverted, in that Janís firm is conducted on the verge of bankruptcy, one corporation (apparently) gets out scot-free and the other settles the case for next to nothing, compared to its huge profits. Remarkably, Jan loses not only because his opponents are richer and more powerful, but also because their lawyers (or, at least, one of them) are better.]]

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* DavidVersusGoliath: This film is the story of a small law firm specialized in personal injury law representing six eight middle-class families in a civil action against two mega-corporations and their first-rate lawyers, so this trope is invoked almost since the beginning. This is even lampashaded in Janís v.o. monologue below. [[spoiler:Ultimately, this trope is cruelly subverted, in that Janís firm is conducted on the verge of bankruptcy, one corporation (apparently) gets out scot-free and the other settles the case for next to nothing, compared to its huge profits. Remarkably, Jan loses not only because his opponents are richer and more powerful, but also because their lawyers (or, at least, one of them) are better.]]
20th Jul '16 2:35:24 PM mavacca
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* ObfuscatingStupidity: If you are a lawyer representing a plaintiff and the defendant is represented by Jerome Facher, DO NOT be fooled by his dismissive behaviour and by its eccentricities.
20th Jul '16 2:27:39 PM mavacca
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* DavidVersusGoliath: This film is the story of a small law firm specialized in personal injury law representing six middle-class families in a civil action against two mega-corporations and their first-rate lawyers, so this trope is invoked almost since the beginning. This is even lampashaded in Janís v.o. monologue below. [[spoiler:Ultimately, this trope is cruelly subverted, in that Janís firm is conducted on the verge of bankruptcy, one corporation (apparently) gets out scot-free and the other settles the case for next to nothing, compared to its huge profits. Remarkably, Jan loses not only because his opponents are richer and more powerful, but also because their lawyers (or, at least, one of them) are better.]]
-->'''Jan Schlichtmann [v.o.]:''' When you are a small firm and they are a big one, steeped in history and wealth, like they always are, with their Persian carpets on the floor and their Harvard diplomas hanging on the walls, itís easy to be intimidated. Donít. Thatís what they want. Thatís what they expect, like all bullies. Thatís how they win. I donít run away from bullies.
19th Jul '16 4:52:45 AM mavacca
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* CommonNonsenseJury: [[spoiler: Averted. The case against Beatrice is dismissed, but it is mainly because Jan did not have the evidence to support it.]]
19th Jul '16 4:46:49 AM mavacca
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* TheBadGuyWins: Jan [[spoiler:basically loses the lawsuit against the two companies that had dumped toxic chemicals into the local water supply, settles the case for far less than his expenses in pursuing it, and ends up declaring bankruptcy.]]

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* TheBadGuyWins: Jan [[spoiler:basically [[spoiler:Jan loses the lawsuit against the two companies that had dumped toxic chemicals into the local water supply, settles the case for far less than his expenses in pursuing it, and ends up declaring bankruptcy.]]



* SummonBiggerFish: How the film ends. After failing at personally prosecuting the two companies for their actions, Schlichtmann manages to get the EPA onto the case in his stead.

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* SummonBiggerFish: How the film ends. After [[spoiler:After failing at personally prosecuting the two companies for their actions, Schlichtmann manages to get the EPA onto the case in his stead.]]
17th Jul '16 2:29:02 PM mavacca
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* HeelFaceTurn: The whole film charts Jan Schlichtmann's transformation from a cynical, SmugSnake attorney into an altruistic crusader against corruption and injustice.
* TheJudge: Walter Jay Skinner, whose management of the case was controversial. In the film, he is clearly unimpressed by Jan's skills.

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* HeelFaceTurn: The whole film charts Jan Schlichtmann's transformation from a cynical, SmugSnake attorney into an [[CrusadingLawyer altruistic crusader against corruption and injustice.injustice]].
* HonorBeforeReason: Jan is offered to settle the case before the Jury's decision three times and he turns each offer down.
** The first time is because he is underestimating Facher and the other lawyer is only offering to cover his expenses.
** The second time is more a matter of "{{Pride}} before reason". He derails a serious attempt at negotiating a settlement by asking for a ludicrous sum (even if he knows perfectly well that his firm does not have the money for a long and expensive trial), because he is hurt and offended by the fact that the other lawyers are still belittling him and looking down on him, even if he was able to build a serious case, at least against Grace.
** Finally, while they are waiting for the jury's decision, Facher approaches Jan and hands him over a twenty dollars note, offering to "add six zeros" to it (strongly implying that he has the authority to settle the case for twenty million dollars cash). The elder lawyer also invite Jan not to bet everything on the legal system's ability to do justice as they both know that it is simply not built to find the truth. Jan shreds the note to pieces, asserting his faith that the jury will somehow take the right decision. [[spoiler: And naturally the jury dismisses the case against Beatrice.]] This is the moment when Jan finally turns from an arrogant SmugSnake ambulance-chaser into a {{Crusading Lawyer}}.

* TheJudge: Walter Jay Skinner, whose management of the case was controversial. In the film, he is clearly unimpressed (and sometimes he is outright exasperated) by Jan's skills.antics.
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