AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts alumnus Jan Schlichtmann, the central figure in the recent book "A Civil Action," has been named this fall''s Eleanor Bateman Alumni Scholar in Residence. Schlichtmann will return to UMass Nov. 18-20 to lecture, speak to classes, and meet informally with faculty and students.
Schlichtmann will also deliver a lecture open to the public and the campus community at 4 p.m., Thurs. Nov. 19 in Mahar Auditorium. His talk is titled: "Should Action Be Civil? Reflections on the Woburn Case." The lecture is free, and will be followed by a reception in Memorial Hall. During the reception, Jonathan Harr, author of "A Civil Action" will be present to sign copies of his book.
"A Civil Action" tells the story of Schlichtmann, a trial lawyer who represented families in Woburn, Mass., who suffered death and adverse health effects from underground water pollution. The national bestseller won the 1996 National Book Critics Circle Award. A movie based on the book starring John Travolta as Schlichtmann, and produced by Robert Redford, among others, will be released at Christmas.
Schlictmann earned his bachelor''s degree from UMass in 1973, and later earned a law degree at Cornell University. From law school, he went on to join the staff of the U.S. House Special Select Committee on Assassinations as special counsel. In 1978, he began private practice in Massachusetts, gaining renown as a trial lawyer in the field of complex litigation. As a plaintiff''s attorney, he has obtained some of Massachusetts'' largest personal injury settlements and verdicts in cases involving defective products, hotel fires, and medical malpractice.
In 1986 Schlictmann gained national prominence for his representation of eight families against W.R. Grace and Beatrice Foods for contamination of the Woburn city water supply. He is currently an attorney with Thomas M. Kiley, Esq. P.C. & Associates in Andover, Mass., practicing in the area of plaintiff''s complex civil litigation, including product and toxic tort litigation.
The Eleanor Bateman Alumni Scholar in Residence program was established in memory of Eleanor Willard Bateman ''23, and brings two distinguished alumni to UMass each year for lectures and interaction with students and faculty.
Schlichtmann will be available to meet with reporters from 2:30-3:30 p.m. Thurs., Nov. 19 in the Bateman Suite at Van Meter Residence Hall. Please contact the News Office at 413/545-0444 to arrange an interview during that time.