A civil action

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Video Guide (Answers)
1. As stated in the video, why is the perfect victim a white male in his forties?
He is at the height of his earning power.

2. Why was the firm of Schlichtmann, et al, initially reluctant to accept the Woburn case?

It was an orphan; it was not a sound investment.

3. How do law firms get paid in personal injury cases?

Contingency fees; paid from settlement.

4. How much do clients pay their attorneys for personal injury cases if they lose?


5. When Mr. Schlichtmann went to the tannery, what did he see that caused him to accept the case?

He saw employees dumping waste products on the ground and washing them into the river.
6. According to the video, lawsuits are what?
7. How do lawsuits begin?
With a Complaint.
8. What is Rule 11?
Prevents frivolous lawsuits.

9. According to the video, what happens to a lawyer who sympathizes with his or her clients?

Clouds his judgment.

10. What is a motion?

A request to either continue with or dismiss a case.

11. Prior to trial, the questioning of witnesses is called a deposition. What kinds of questions were potential witnesses asked?

They are asked questions that will help a particular attorney's case.

12. During the depositions, what did the potential witnesses say about the water?

The water used to taste and smell bad.

13. What was the piece of paper called that Mr. Schlichtmann handed to Mr. Riley when he visited the tannery?

Court order.

14. Why did Mr. Schlichtmann and his partner visit "Uncle Pete?"

To get a loan.

15. According to Mr. Schlichtmann, what are the odds of a plaintiff's attorney winning in court?

2 to 1 against.

16. According to Mr. Schlichtmann, what percentage of all cases go to trial?

1 1/2 percent.

17. If a case does not go to trial, what does it do instead?

Settles out of court.

18. According to Mr. Schlichtmann, a plaintiff's case depends upon what?


19. According to Mr. Schlichtmann's law professor, an attorney should never ask a witness a question unless he or she knows what?

The answer.

20. Why was the jury given questions to answer?

To determine whether the case should continue.

21. What was the jury's decision with regard to Grace and Beatrice?

Grace—Yes, continue.
Beatrice—No, dismissed.

22. Why did Mr. Schlichtmann and his partners go to New York?

To try to settle out of court with W.R. Grace.

23. How much money did Mr. Schlichtmann's partners want to settle the case?

$8 million.

24. How much money did Grace's vice president offer Mr. Schlichtmann?

$8 million.

25. How much money did Mr. Schlichtmann want to settle the case?

$10 million.

26. Was a settlement reached? If so, for how much?

Yes, undisclosed; $8 million.

27. What percentage of a contingency fee did Mr. Schlichtmann and his partners charge the plaintiffs in the Woburn case?

28 percent.

28. After paying the expenses of the case and the attorneys, how much money would each family receive?


29. The plaintiffs were not happy with the settlement offer. What did Mrs. Anderson state that the families wanted from Grace?

An apology.

30. After the case was settled, what did Mr. Schlichtmann say that he should have done instead of looking for someone who saw chemicals being dumped?

Talked to someone who helped with the clean up.

31. What was the purpose of the dump trucks at Riley's tannery?

To remove the contaminated soil.

32. According to Mr. Schlichtmann, what are the odds of winning an appeal?

10 to 1 against; 5 in 50

33. What was in the boxes that were being moved?

Files from the office.

34. Would Mr. Schlichtmann try the case again if he had to do it over?


35. When the case was appealed, what did the jury determine that Mr. Riley had done?

Concealed evidence.

36. On appeal, what was W.R. Grace found guilty of doing?

Making false statements.

37. What was the cost of cleaning up the damage caused by Mr. Riley's tannery?

$69.4 million.

38. What was Mr. Schlichtmann forced to file?


39. What type of law is Mr. Schlichtmann now practicing?


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