A Civil Action (1998) Poster

William H. Macy: James Gordon



  • James Gordon : [Regarding the case and the following settlement]  Mrs. Anderson, you're looking at four guys who are broke. We lost everything trying this case.

    Anne Anderson : How can you even begin to compare what you've lost, to what we've lost.

  • Jan Schlichtmann : Do me a favour, Gordon, will you? Shut up.

    James Gordon : [lying on the floor, from the majority of their furniture taken away for failure to pay their bills on time and in full]  What?

    Jan Schlichtmann : I'm so tired of hearing you moan about money all the time. This isn't about money anymore.

    James Gordon : No?

    Jan Schlichtmann : No.

    James Gordon : What's it about? What's it about, Jan?

    Bill Crowley : Look, let's all...

    James Gordon : [stands up and walks over to Jan]  No, I want to know. I want to know why I gave up my house for. My credit! My life! Would you take 10 million dollars right now?

    Jan Schlichtmann : Yes.

    James Gordon : But you won't take eight?

    Jan Schlichtmann : No.

    James Gordon : No. So at 10 million dollars this is some sort of uh... a, a mythic struggle but at eight it's just another lawsuit.

    Jan Schlichtmann : If they're willing to pay eight, Gordon, then it's not enough, is it?

    James Gordon : [sarcastically]  Oh, that makes sense!

    Jan Schlichtmann : It makes perfect sense.

    James Gordon : [pacing back and forth]  So, the only thing you accept is what they're not willing to give us. Listen to yourself! I for one am sick of listening to you. I've lost enough because of you.

    Jan Schlichtmann : [shouting]  You wouldn't have anything to lose it if it wasn't for me. Everything you have I got for you!

    James Gordon : [emptying his pockets and throwing the items on Jan's table]  I don't have anything, Jan! What do I have? I've got a couple of bucks and some, some bus transfers. I've got a saving account from when I was 12 years-old. Here! There's 37 dollars in here. With interest, after 25 years there's probably 47 dollars, take it! Add it to the war chest. Use it to fight injustice. Stand up for principles with that. Go down in flames with it for all I care. Only next time, "next time", that's a laugh - ask us if we want to go down with you!

  • James Gordon : Every dollar is a dollar we don't have, we're floating on credit, without a net

    Jan Schlichtmann : [while organizing his desk]  Mortgaged my house, I don't care

    James Gordon : [as Jan looks up]  I have, and Kevin's, and Bill's and mine, and I've cashed in our retirement plan, and our life insurance policies, it's gone

  • Jan Schlichtmann : So what are you saying? You want to get out now and cut our losses, you want to get out now and throw away...? What was it?

    James Gordon : 1.4 million dollars

    Jan Schlichtmann : Well, I don't know what to tell you because there's things I need to prove and I can't do that not spending money

    James Gordon : We have to go see uncle Pete

  • Jan Schlichtmann : [looking through the list of expenses they've spent thus far]  This figure here, one hundred dollars an hour for Dr. Conan that seems more than fair considering his preeminence

    James Gordon : That's for his nights in the hotel, that's his discount sleeping rate

    Jan Schlichtmann : [looks up at Gordon]  oh

    James Gordon : Your doctors have cost us more than nine hundred thousand so far

    Jan Schlichtmann : They're worth it

    James Gordon : Your geologists have cost us more than five hundred thousand so far

    Jan Schlichtmann : Well, they're worth it

    James Gordon : That's not the point, the point is everybody in the firm is only working on this case which means we have no money coming in, just going out

  • James Gordon : [to secretary]  Every credit-card application we send in, we get two more in the mail. Here's one from some bank I've never heard of, in North Dekota. Fill it out. Fill them all out. It's the last great pyramid scheme in America.

  • James Gordon : [Seeing Uncle Pete for another loan after Schlichtmann's firm is in serious financial trouble]  You'll never guess what I did last night. You'll like this. I pledged $200 to a tele-evangelist. I'm not kidding. He said, "Give and ye shall receive." I called him right up. I know, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Gordon's losing it. He's falling apart. He's probably buying lottery tickets." I bought a few, I'll admit it. I know. But, seriously, the jackpot's $45 million. That's just this week. You should see the lines out there.

    Uncle Pete : [Nods to a bulge in Gordon's pocket]  Is that a gun?

    James Gordon : What? This? No. No, this is for you.

    [Empties bag that was in his pocket full of coins] 

    James Gordon : My Krugerrands. I've had them forever. I want you to have them. And... this is the deed to my house. And here is Conway's and Crowley's and Jan's. See? I come bearing gifts. We really need the money.

  • James Gordon : [to Kevin]  No, let me stop you right there, I don't need to hear it, from a financial stand point, I can tell you right now this not a sound investment, "probable" is just a euphemism for "unproven", to prove something like this, you need new medical research, is that the business we're in? The medical research business? and you have to ask yourself why is this case an orphan? Why has it been from kicked from firm to firm until it ended up on your desk?

  • Uncle Pete : [looking at their firm's assets]  Where are we on the Lonagates settlement?

    James Gordon : Spent it.

    Uncle Pete : Spent it? How much of it?

    James Gordon : All of it.

    Uncle Pete : What about the Connelly settlement?

    James Gordon : Spent it.

    Uncle Pete : [confused]  On?

    James Gordon : [referring to their present case]  Woburn, we spent everything on Woburn.

    Uncle Pete : So what do you think you'll need to tie you over here? About two, three hundred?

    James Gordon : Six hundred thousand.

    Uncle Pete : [surprised]  Six hundred thousand?

    James Gordon : Yes.

    Jan Schlichtmann : When was the last time you lost betting on me? Never:, I'm probably the best investment your bank ever made.

  • James Gordon : [to the victim's families with Jan, Kevin, Bill]  Our contingency fee is, as you know, as you agreed to, as it is customary is forty percent but Jan suggested and we all agreed to reduce that to twenty eight percent or 2.2 million dollars. Our expenses: what we actually paid trying this case is 3.5 million dollars, subtracting that and the twenty eight percent in fees from the eight million we got from Grace and dividing it equally among you:comes to three hundred and seventy five thousand dollars per family

  • James Gordon : [after the lawyers for the defendants leave the room for unsuccessfully reaching a settlement agreement]  What's the story?

    Jan Schlichtmann : I guess they don't want to end this thing

    James Gordon : They don't want to end this? You said this would never go to trial, you just made certain that it will, without consulting us I might add

    Jan Schlichtmann : They patronize us, they think we're black mailers, they think they can buy us

    James Gordon : We can't afford a long drawn out trial

    Jan Schlichtmann : well, you're going to have to find a way to getting some money then.

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