Learning Module 1: Timeline of Events

Student Assignment

Issues and Topics to Consider

  • 1. Browsing the newspaper articles written by Charles C. Ryan between 1979 and 1982 for the Woburn Daily Times Chronicle and the Woburn Health Studies by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Harvard School of Public Health, gives you a sense of the desperation and urgency that the residents of Woburn felt during the years immediately prior to the trial. The painstaking statistical work presented in the health studies pointed to an environmental link between the perceived leukemia cluster in Woburn.

    Why was it important for the plaintiff families to act in 1982, considering numerous studies were still in progress that may have helped their case?

  • 2. Many readers of 'A Civil Action' are surprised that the lawsuit filed by the plaintiffs against W.R. Grace and Beatrice Foods did not also include the City of Woburn as a defendant. After browsing Industrial History of Woburn and History of Woburn's Water Supply, discuss the following question.

    What are possible reasons why the plaintiffs and/or their attorney may have wanted, or not wanted, to include the city as a defendant.

    Return to Timeline Overview

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