KEY ISSUES IN THE TRIAL
The links to resources presented in this webpage facilitate exploration of Key Issues raised in the Woburn Toxic Trial that were woven into the book and movie "A Civil Action." These issues concern Woburn's industrial history and water supply system, the health studies about disease clusters in Woburn, Judge Skinner's controversial rulings, and the disparate opinions expressed by expert witnesses during the trial. Links are provided to resources in the two other levels of exploration within this website, Overarching Societal Issues and Learning Modules, and to the Resource Collections. The Key Issues in the Woburn Toxic Trial explored on this page include:
Woburn's Industrial History
Woburn's Municipal Water Supply
Woburn's water-supply system has a long legacy of inadequate supply and poor water quality. Explore the webpages below to learn how this legacy led to the construction and use of municipal wells G and H.
State & Federal Health StudiesSeveral studies were performed to identify specific human-health problems and possible exposure pathways in Woburn. Prior to the trial, medical experts were hired to identify links between chronic exposure to concentrations of trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE). Learn more about the health studies conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and the Harvard School of Public Health, and about the toxicity of TCE and PCE using these webpages.
Judge Skinner's Controversial Rulings
Judge Skinner made several rulings concerning how the trial proceeded, who qualified as an expert, and what evidence was presented. Lawyers found the rulings controversial. Scientists found the rulings inhibited information given to the jury. Learn more about trial processes and the legal foundations of Judge Skinner's rulings using these webpages.
Scientists in the Courtroom
One of the intriguing aspects of the experts' testimony presented in the trial was the gross disparity of their opinions. Learn more about the depth and details of these differences below.