“A Civil Action,” a fact-based litigation drama starring John Travolta, received a positive verdict from North American moviegoers in its first weekend of wide release. Travolta plays a personal injury lawyer who battles corporate might in the case of eight children stricken with leukemia, allegedly caused by toxic drinking water. The film ranked No. 1 with a haul of $14.5 million for the Friday-to-Sunday period, while reigning champ “Patch Adams” slipped to No. 2 with $12 million, according to studio estimates. “You’ve Got Mail” and “Stepmom” each reported about $8 million, and “The Prince of Egypt” was at No. 5 with $5.8 million. Those rankings represented a major plunge for each of the three films.