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The Verdict is a 1982 feature film which tells the story of a down-on-his-luck alcoholic lawyer who pushes a medical malpractice case in order to improve his own situation, but discovers along the way that he is doing the "right" thing. Since the lawsuit involves a woman in a persistent vegetative state, the movie is cast in the shadow of the Karen Ann Quinlan case. The movie stars Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden, James Mason, Milo O'Shea and Lindsay Crouse.

Directed by Sidney Lumet, the movie was adapted by David Mamet from the novel by Barry Reed and is not a remake of the 1946 film, The Verdict, directed by Don Siegel and starring Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre.

The Verdict was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Paul Newman), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (James Mason), Best Director, Best Picture and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.


Frank Galvin (Paul Newman), once a promising Bostonmarker lawyer, is now an alcoholic ambulance chaser who has lost all of his four cases over the last three years. As a favor, his friend Mickey (Jack Warden) throws him a medical malpractice case where it's all but assured that the defense will settle a large settlement be offered. The case involves a young mother who was possibly administered the wrong anesthetic and is now in a coma. The relatives of the mother are hoping for the settlement and Frank assures them they have a strong case.

Frank visits the coma-stricken young mother and is deeply affected. He then meets with the defendants - the Archdiocese of Boston, who run the Catholic hospital where the incident took place. As expected, the archdiocese offers a fair amount of money to settle out of court, but Frank declines the offer, as he fears that this may be his last chance to do right as a lawyer and taking the money would make him "lost." Everyone, including the presiding judge and the mother's relatives, is stunned by Frank's decision.

Things quickly go wrong for Frank. His star medical witness bails on him; his opponent, the attorney Ed Concannon (James Mason), is masterful with the press; and no one wants to talk about what, if anything, went wrong in the emergency room on the day in question. Frank refuses to give up, even when he has the opportunity to have the case called a mistrial. Though his case is somewhat weak at times, he concludes with an impassioned final speech calling the jury to pursue truth and justice. The jury sides with Frank and awards the family a large, but undetermined, amount of money.


  • Robert Redford was originally slated to star in this film, but he was uncomfortable with the script. After several rewrites, he decided that he did not like the story and left the project. Sidney Lumet came on board and chose the original script as the one he would direct.

  • Bruce Willis has an uncredited background appearance as an extra, in one of his first film projects. After the verdict is read for the plaintiff, Willis can be seen to the left of Paul Newman's head and can be seen smiling. Another notable star in this very same instance, but instead to the right is Tobin Bell.

The jury sides with Frank and awards the family a large, but undetermined, amount of money. The movie was recently redacted to eliminate the jury's finding. It aired on HBO and Cinemax that way.

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( sv Document 10.1)

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