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“Philadelphia” – An Amazing Film About Personal Injury and Employment Law

"Philadelphia" is an amazing film about bias and tolerance.  The film was released in 1993 and I have watched it roughly 10 times.  It was on television recently and I found myself watching the film, being as engrossed as much as I was the first time I saw it.

The movie stars Tom Hanks, who was suffering with AIDS, and who was fired from his job as a gay, high-level attorney working at a downtown Philadelphia law firm.  His partners justified the termination claiming Hanks had mishandled a very significant case.  However, Hanks claimed he was fired because the partners of his firm knew, from visible lesions on his body, that Hanks had AIDS.

Emboldened to make his former firm liable for the discriminatory action they took against him, Hanks searched tirelessly for an attorney to take the case.  He was turned down by multiple attorneys.  However, he finally found a willing attorney when he found Denzel Washington, a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer.  Together, Hanks and Washington collaborate, and take Hanks' former vaunted law firm to trial.

The trial was agonizing to watch.  However, the juryfound in Hanks' favor, and levied a substantial punitive damages award against the firm.

The film is so good because it highlights how in 1993 many members of our society were so incredibly biased against those suffering from AIDS.  Watching the film in 2011 reveals that we have progressed so much in tolerance and acceptance toward those suffering with AIDS.  However, we as a society have a long way to go.  But we are getting there, slowly.  Watch the film.  You will no doubt be very moved.

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