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A CIVIL ACTION

Life Imitates Art
Throughout production, many of the real-life people portrayed on screen visited the film sets and mingled with the cast and crew: Jan Schlichtmann and his former partners, Kevin Conway, Bill Crowley and James Gordon; Beatrice attorney Jerome Facher; W

Throughout production, many of the real-life people portrayed on screen visited the film sets and mingled with the cast and crew: Jan Schlichtmann and his former partners, Kevin Conway, Bill Crowley and James Gordon; Beatrice attorney Jerome Facher; W.R. Grace attorney William Cheeseman; Grace employee Al Love; and all eight Woburn families (the plaintiffs) including two leukemia survivors. Even the private investigator who repossessed Schlichtmann's Porsche ten years ago ironically showed up.

"Meeting Jan was an interesting reference point to see if I was hitting my notes," says Travolta, "but with the families, I tried to give them joy in my celebrity. I never asked a lot of questions because I felt everything was clear in the script and I didn't want to stir up memories. However, Anne Anderson told me that when her son Jimmy was living, his favorite show was 'Welcome Back Kotter' and his favorite character was mine."

"I think we've been blessed with John Travolta and I wanted to share that with him. He's certainly been very sensitive," says Anderson.

Where Are They Now?

When the Woburn case ended in 1989, Jan Schlichtmann was financially destitute and spiritually beaten. With just enough money for plane fare- which he borrowed from his good friend Tom Kiley-Schlichtmann fled to the island of Kauai.

But he is back in Boston and life today is relatively great for the 47-year-old attorney. He is married to Claudia Barragan, a woman he met during the appeal of the Woburn case. They have two sons and live in a beautiful home overlooking the ocean in the suburb of Beverly.

Schlichtmann is also practicing law again. He formed a new partnership with Tom Kiley and is currently involved in two environmental cases similar to Woburn: one in Tom's River, New Jersey; the other near the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y. His tactics favor mediation over litigation. And he's hit the lecture circuit- addressing law students and environment groups around the country.

As for the rest of Schlichtmann's legal team: Kevin Conway and Bill Crowley are practicing personal injury law together in Boston. Former legal accountant James Gordon has relocated to Pasadena, California, where he serves as a managing director of the international firm The Investigate Group International (IGI), co-chairing their computer and technology practice group.

"Woburn left me drifting down the infamous and bottomless 'black hole' with over $400,000 in debt, no job, no income, and worst of all, no vision for the future," says Gordon. "Now that I am back on my feet professionally, personally and financially, the movie provides a unique form of compensation for those times. As we always tried to tell Grace and Beatrice, compensation does not always need to be measured in economic terms."

Jerome Facher, now 73, continues to practice law at the same Boston law firm he joined in 1959, the prestigious Hale and Dorr. He specializes in trials and appeals before state and federal courts. William Cheeseman, now 55, remains a partner and trial lawyer with the large and distinguished Boston law firm of Foley, Hoag & Eliot LLP. For the last decade, his practice has focused on environmental litigation.

Nearly all the plaintiffs still reside in east Woburn. Now that the contaminated wells (C&

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