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Trial Lawyer of the Year Award Winners

2016 (co-winners)

Jones (Varden) v. City of Clanton and similar cases — Alec Karakatsanis of Equal Justice Under Law in Washington, D.C.; Matthew Swerdlin of Birmingham, Ala.; J. Mitch McGuire of McGuire & Associates in Montgomery, Ala.; William M. Dawson of Dawson Law Office in Birmingham, Ala.; Thomas B. Harvey and Michael-John Voss of ArchCity Defenders in St. Louis, Mo.; Cliff Johnson II and Jacob W. Howard of the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center in University, Miss., Katie M. Schwartzmann, and Eric A. Foley of the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center in New Orleans, La.; and William P. Quigley of New Orleans, La.

Settlements in the four cases eligible for this award, within a series of constitutional challenges to the American money bail system brought in cities and towns across the country, not only ended the use of money bail in four cities, but ensured confidential compensation for plaintiffs held in jail for minor offenses without an inquiry into their ability to pay.

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Linde v. Arab Bank – Michael E. Elsner, Jodi Westbrook Flowers, and John M. Eubanks of Motley Rice in Mt. Pleasant, S.C.; C. Tab Turner of Turner & Associates in North Little Rock, Ark.; Gary M. Osen, Aaron Schlanger, Ari Ungar, Cindy T. Schlanger, and Naomi Weinberg of Osen LLC in Hackensack, N.J.; Joshua Glatter, formerly of Osen LLC; Mark Werbner of Sayles Werbner in Dallas, TX; Joel Israel, formerly of Sayles Werbner; James Bonner of Stone, Bonner & Rocco in Summit, N.J.; Noel Nudelman, Richard Heideman, and Tracy Reichman Kalik of Heideman, Nudelman & Kalik in Washington, DC; Gavriel Mairone and Ariel Mairone of MM-Law in Chicago, IL; Steven Steingard and Stephen Schwartz of Kohn, Swift & Graf in Philadelphia, Pa.; Shawn Patrick Naunton of Zuckerman Spaeder in New York City; Margaret E. Lynaugh, formerly of Zuckerman Spaeder in New York City; Allan Gerson of AG International Law in Washington, DC, Peter Raven-Hansen of Washington, DC; and Jonathan David of The David Law Firm in The Woodlands, Texas.

This case on behalf of suicide bombing victims and their families marks the first time that a financial institution has been brought to trial – and held liable – under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Following the trial, the team secured a confidential settlement for the plaintiffs.

2015

David v. Signal International — Alan Bruce Howard of Crowell & Moring in New York, Daniel Werner, Naomi Tsu, Kristi L. Graunke, Meredith B. Stewart and Anjali J. Nair of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Atlanta and New Orleans offices; Chandra Bhatnagar, formerly of the American Civil Liberties Union in New York; Ivy O. Suriyopas and Dahsong Kim of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York; Joseph Bjarnson of Sahn Ward Coschignano & Baker in Uniondale, N.Y.; Tracie Washington of the Louisiana Justice Institute in New Orleans; Chiemi D. Suzuki of Crowell & Moring in New York; and Amal Bouhabib and Hugh Daniel Sandler, formerly of Crowell & Moring in New York. 

In one of the largest labor trafficking cases ever brought in the United States, the team won a $14 million verdict for five immigrant workers.

2014

People of California v. Atlantic Richfield — Lead attorneys Mary E. Alexander of San Francisco, Joseph W. Cotchett and Nancy L. Fineman of Burlingame, Calif., Peter Earle of Milwaukee, Wis., and Fidelma L. Fitzpatrick of Providence, R.I (see linked story for full list).

The team won a $1.15 billion judgment against paint manufacturers last year, successfully arguing that lead paint in homes is a public nuisance that creates a quantifiable risk of harm to children who reside in or visit those homes.

2013

Slevin v. Board of County Commissioners — Matthew Coyte and Jack Jacks, both of Albuquerque

Coyte and Jacks brought a lawsuit on behalf of Stephen Slevin, an indigent, mentally ill man who suffered in solitary confinement in a New Mexico prison for almost two years. A jury awarded Slevin $22 million; the parties settled for $15.5 million.

2012

Alexander v. Fluor — Gerson Smoger of Dallas, Texas; Mark Bronson and James Dowd, both of St. Louis, Mo.; and Steven Bronson of San Diego, Calif.

Four attorneys won the largest collectable jury verdict ($358.5 million) ever in Missouri by holding a major lead smelting operator accountable for poisoning children around its Herculaneum, Mo., plant.

2011

Lavender v. Skilled Healthcare Group — Tim Needham of Eureka, Calif., Michael Thamer of Callahan, Calif.; Chris Healey of San Diego; and Michael Crowley, Patrik Griego and Amelia Burroughs, also of Eureka, Calif.

The team of six attorneys won a staggering $677 million jury verdict against Skilled Healthcare Group, Inc., a for-profit corporation that owns and operates nursing homes throughout the U.S. The lawyers represented a class of approximately 32,000 current and former nursing home residents and their families.

2010

De la Rosa v. Wackenhut — Ronald Rodriguez of Laredo, Tex.

Ronald Rodriguez took on one of the country’s largest private prison companies in the beating death of a man who was about to be released from a Texas prison.

2009 (Co-Winners)

Cook v. Rockwell International Corp. — Merrill G. Davidoff, Peter Nordberg, David F. Sorensen, Ellen Noteware and Jenna MacNaughton Wong of Berger & Montague, P.C. in Philadelphia; Louise Roselle and Jean Geoppinger of Waite, Schneider, Bayless & Chesley Co., LPA in Cincinnati; and Gary Blum, Steve Kelly and Bruce DeBoskey of Silver & DeBoskey, P.C. in Denver

The team held the operators of Colorado’s Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant accountable for persistent radioactive contamination from the facility.

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Lockerbie, Scotland – Pan Am 103 Litigation — James P. Kreindler and Steven R. Pounian of Kreindler & Kreindler LLP; Michel “Mitch” F. Baumeister of Baumeister & Samuels; and Frank H. Granito Jr. and Frank Granito III of Speiser Krause Nolan & Granito

A team of five New York lawyers recovered substantial damages for the families of the victims in the deadly 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

2008

Los Angeles Archdiocese and San Diego Diocese Catholic Abuse Litigation — Raymond P. Boucher and Anthony M. DeMarco of Beverly Hills, Calif.; Katherine Freberg of Irvine, Calif.; Steven Rubino of Morgate, N.J.; Terry Giles of Houston, Tex.; Irwin Zalkin of San Diego, Calif; Timothy Hale of Santa Barbara, Calif.; Laurence Drivon of Stockton, Calif.; and Jeff Anderson of St. Paul, Minn.

A team of attorneys won $1.2 billion in settlements with the Catholic Church for more than 700 sexual abuse survivors.

2007

United States ex rel. Tyson v. Amerigroup Corporation — Frederick H. Cohen, David J.Chizewer, Chad A. Blumenfield and Ann H.Chen of Chicago’s Goldberg Kohn Bell Black Rosenbloom & Moritz, Ltd.; Samuel B. Cole and Michele M.Fox of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago; and Paul Gaynor, David J. Adams and Anne R.K. Reader of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office

A team of nine Illinois’ attorneys won a record-breaking jury verdict – the largest in the 150-year history of the federal False Claims Act – holding Amerigroup accountable for bilking the government and depriving Illinois’ poorest citizens of health care.

2006

Valenzuela v. Hughes Aircraft Company, Gerardo v. Tucson Airport Authority, and Associated Aviation Underwriters v. Wood — Frederick M. Baron, Thomas Sims, Renée Melancon, Janice Robinson Pennington, and Steve Baughman Jensen of Baron & Budd, P.C., in Dallas, Jane N. Saginaw and Misty A. Farris, formerly of Baron & Budd, P.C., and Richard Gonzales of the Gonzales Law Firm in Tucson

Fighting a marathon legal battle that spanned two decades and involved three lawsuits, two trials, and three sets of appeals, the team of lawyers won a total recovery of more than $150 million for 1,618 water contamination victims in Sunnyside, Arizona.

2005

Leach v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company — Charleston, West Virginia attorneys Harry G. Deitzler of Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler, PLLC (Hill, Peterson), Larry A. Winter of Winter Johnson & Hill PLLC, Robert A. Bilott and Gerald J. Rapien of Cincinnati’s Taft, Stettinius & Hollister LLP, and R. Edison Hill and James C. Peterson of Hill, Peterson

The legal team sued DuPont for damages and medical monitoring, and ultimately convinced the chemical giant that it should pay to determine whether the C8 it had leaked into the public water supply would harm human health and the environment.

2004

Lobato v. Taylor — Denver attorneys Jeffrey A. Goldstein, of counsel to Brauer, Buescher, Goldhammer, Kelman & Dodge, P.C., Wiiiiam F. Schoeberleln of Littler Mendelson, P.C., Watson Galleher of Don, Hiller & Galleher, P.C., solo practitioners  Robert  Maes and  David A. Martinez, Julia T. Waggener  of Walters & Joyce, P.C., Rebecca Fischer of Sherman & Howard LL.C., Nonnan Haglund of Kelley Haglund Garnsey & Kahn LLC, and Elisabeth Arenales of the Center for Law and Policy

The team of attorneys won an epic 23-year pro bono legal battle on behalf of thousands of Hispanic ranchers seeking to restore their right to use La Sierra, an historic 80,000 acre tract of mountain  land in southern Colorado.

2003 (Co-Winners)

Estate of Judi Bari v. Doyle — Solo practitioners Dennis Cunningham, J. Tony Serra, Robert Bloom, and Ben Rosenfeld of San Francisco and William M. Simpich of Oakland, California, along with William H. Goodman and Michael E. Deutsch, both formerly of New York’s Center for Constitutional Rights

The legal team took on federal and state law enforcement power in a classic David and Goliath battle, winning a rare $4.4 million jury verdict against the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the City of Oakland for violating the civil rights of two environmental activists during a 1990 bomb investigation.

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Marianas Sweatshop Litigation — Michael Rubin of Altshuler Berzon Nussbaum Rubin & Demain in San Francisco; Albert H. Meyerhoff, Jr. of Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP in Los Angeles; Pamela M. Parker and Keith F. Park of Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP in San Diego; Joyce C. H. Tang of Teker Civille Torres & Tang in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands; Alan M. Caplan of Bushnell, Caplan & Fielding LLP in San Francisco; and L. Thomas Galloway of Galloway & Associates in Boulder, Colorado

The team of seven attorneys reformed living and working conditions for sweatshop workers in six Asian Pacific nations and a U.S. territory by negotiating a comprehensive $20 million settlement of three novel human rights class actions on behalf of approximately 30,000 garment workers.

2002

Ayers v. State of Mississipi — Isaac K. Byrd, Jr., of Byrd & Associates in Jackson, Mississippi; Armand G. Derfner of Derfner & Wilborn, L.L.C. in Charleston, South Carolina; solo practitioner Bob Pressman of Lexington, Massachusetts; and Alvin O. Chambliss, Jr., of Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston

Four attorneys achieved a landmark $513 million settlement in a class action lawsuit to end the State of Mississippi’s 27 year-old battle over college desegregation and unequal funding of higher education.

2001 (Co-Winners)

Stanley M. Rosenblatt and Susan Rosenblatt of the Law Offices of Stanley M. Rosenblatt in Miami, Florida

The husband-and-wife team won a prece­dent-shattering  $145  billion punitive damages verdict on behalf of some 500,000 Florida smokers in a products liability class action against the entire tobacco industry.

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Bailey v. Ford Motor Co. — C. Tab Turner of Turner & Associates in North Little Rock, Arkansas

C. Tab Turner obtained a multi-million dollar set­tlement from Ford Motor Company and Bridge­stone/Firestone in a high profile personal injury suit in Texas involving a horrific rollover accident in a Ford Explorer that occurred when the tread on a Firestone tire blew apart.

2000

Hartman  v. Albright — Bruce A.  Fredrickson, Susan  L. Brackshaw,  Linda M. Correia, Jonathan C. Puth, and Jeffrey E. Fallon, all of Webster, Fredrickson & Brackshaw in Washington, D.C.

The team of D.C. lawyers won a record-breaking $508 mil­lion settlement against the federal government—the largest award ever in an employment discrimina­tion case—on behalf of a class of 1,100 women who were denied jobs and promotions at the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) and its broadcasting arm, Voice of America, because of their gender.