Essay on Civil Action

1768 Words 8 Pages
Civil Action

The legal system is an essential element in the successful operation of this country. It is a system that is utilized every day, by every type of person, from the average blue-collar worker to the average Wall Street broker. There is a multitude of ways that the legal system is put to use. One such way is the class action lawsuit. A Civil Action, by Jonathan Harr, uses the account of a single case, Anne Anderson, et al., v. W.R. Grace & Co., et al, to illustrate the power and importance of class action lawsuits in the civil justice system.

The purpose of class action lawsuits is to give the common man the ability to take on the largest corporate or private entities, who can afford the very best legal services,
…show more content…
The harm must be linked to the behavior of the defendant, a factor often hard to prove.

The attempt to link the harm to the behavior of the defendant produced its share of successes and failures for the Schlichtmann team. Not only did the plaintiffs have to prove that the corporations contaminated the water, but they also had to show that the contamination caused the leukemia and the other health problems. To do this they enlisted the help and expertise of numerous doctors and specialists. Naturally the defending side recruited their own set of experts. As in any case, each side is going to have an expert who will refute the testimony of the other side’s expert. This is a normal part of arguing a case, but can cause confusion and complication on the part of the jurors.
A lesser-anticipated pitfall associated with expert witnesses, is the possibility of them making a mistake. Especially in a case such as Woburn, where both sides have a slew of expert testimony, lawyers such as Schlichtmann aren’t able to catch or prevent every mistake. Even if eventually caught and corrected, one mistake can prove to be very damaging. In A Civil Action, George Pinder, Schlichtmann’s expert in hydrology and groundwater movement, made a minor calculating mistake. Although minor, “Schlichtmann knew that Facher and Keating would not miss this mistake, and that they would use it on cross-examination to attack Pinder’s credibility” (Harr 327). An expert witness whose credibility is