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In the years since Jonathan Harr’s “A Civil Action” made him the John Travolta of the toxic torts bar, Jan Schlictmann has received “literally countless phone calls, faxes, letters” from plaintiffs and other lawyers who want his help with their cases. “I could spend all of my time on any one of them,” says Schlictmann, who practices on his own in Beverly, Mass. “I try to get involved in matters where I feel I can do the most good.” Right now, Schlictmann’s working on five cases in addition to Pensacola: In his hometown of Beverly, Schlictmann represents several families in negotiations with defendants that are alleged to have contaminated the local water supply. Part of the town reservoir is built on a toxic landfill, and testing, Schlictmann says, has found evidence of heavy metals in the water. In Toms River, N.J., 67 families hired Schlictmann to advise them in another water contamination case, this one involving solvents that are alleged to have caused a rash of childhood cancer cases. Schlictmann has been involved in the litigation for two years, though instead of filing a suit, he’s been working with the polluters to both disgorge information and make reparations — an approach he says he plans to recommend in Pensacola as well. “Impacted communities are hungering, thirsting for truth,” he says. “The most important role of the lawyer is to help bring out the truth. So we encourage open, honest discussion [with defendants] from the beginning.” In Libby, Mont., Schlictmann represents families that lived near an asbestos mine. He’s also involved in a related nationwide class action, representing people who bought or used an asbestos-containing attic insulation manufactured by his old opponent from “A Civil Action,” W.R. Grace. In Inez, Ky., Schlictmann represents plaintiffs affected by a flood of coal sludge, which flowed over creek beds and ran into homes and also affected the water supply. Schlictmann is also working with Mike Papantonio and Robert Kennedy Jr., of Water Keeper Alliance, on a federal class action involving industrial agriculture — hog, chicken, and cattle farms. The plaintiffs, including people who live near such farms, small farmers, and large environmental organizations, assert that the industry waste is responsible for environmental disasters such as the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. “They’re not farms,” says Schlictmann, “they’re animal concentration camps.”Schlictmann is of counsel to San Francisco’s Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein and recently opened the firm’s Boston office.

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