2012 Trial Lawyers of the Year

Attorneys Who Won Unprecedented Verdict Against Negligent Lead Producer Named 2012 "Trial Lawyers of the Year" at Gala in Chicago

Attorneys (from left to right) Jim Dowd, Steve Bronson, Gerson Smoger, Mark Bronson and Joe Yeckel (obscured in back) talk to the media on July 29, 2011, outside the Civil Courts building in downtown St. Louis after a judge awarded $320 million in punitive damages to their clients. The case was brought against the former owners of a Herculaneum lead smelter that was accused of negligently causing lead poisoning in the former residents. Photo by Johnny Andrews jandrews@post-dispatch.com.

Four attorneys who won the largest verdict ever in Missouri by holding a major lead smelting operator accountable for poisoning children around its Herculaneum, Mo. plant has won the Public Justice Foundation’s 2012 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award, one of the most prestigious legal honors in the country.  Gerson H. Smoger of Oakland, Calif,; Mark Bronson and James Dowd, both of St. Louis, Mo,; and Steven Bronson of Dallas were named winners July 31 at the Public Justice Foundation’s 30th Anniversary Gala in Chicago, besting a field of four finalists.

After 16 years of litigation, culminating in a three-month trial, the legal team won a jury award totaling $358.8 million – $320 million of it in punitive damages.  Doe Run’s long-time, round-the-clock lead smelting operation in east central Missouri leeched lead into the local air and soil, leaving children to face the serious consequences of exposure, including stunted growth, kidney failure, and neurological disorders.

Even though Doe Run and the smelter’s previous owners knew what was happening, they did nothing to stop in, in fact, production increased.

The winning team’s case, Alexander v. Fluor, involved 16 separate personal injury cases.  The result was the largest jury verdict ever in Missouri.

Read More: $320 Million in Lead Smelter Case (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

The Public Justice Foundation annually presents its Trial Lawyer of the Year Award to an attorney or team of attorneys who demonstrated exceptional effort in trying or settling a socially significant – and, often, precedent-setting – case in the past year.

Public Justice is a national public interest law firm that fights injustice and holds corporate and government wrongdoers accountable.  Visit the website at www.publicjustice.net

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