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RICHARD F. GERRY

Richard F. Gerry graduated from Billings, Montana high school and worked at Boeing making Flying Fortresses.  He was in the U.S. Merchant Marine from 1942 to 1950, participating in several invasions from Guadalcanal to Okinawa.

In 1951, Richard entered Columbia University, receiving a B.S., and then graduating with a J.D. from Columbia School of Law in 1956.  He was hired by Melvin Belli in October 1956 and became a partner in  Belli, Ashe & Gerry in 1958.  While with Belli and Ashe, he was involved in the trial of many of the early cases in the development of products liability.  May v. Cutter Laboratories , tried in 1962, resulted in the largest personal injury verdict in the world up until that time, $675,000.  One item of evidence was the first Day-in-the-Life film used in a trial.

Richard was an active trial lawyer for 45 years, specializing in motor vehicle, aviation, maritime, railroad, product defect, construction, toxic torts, and other personal injury and death cases.

He participated in the litigation of many aviation disaster cases, including all cases arising out of the airplane crash in Toledo, Ohio which killed or injured all members of the Cal Poly football team.  He represented thousands of individuals in personal injury and property cases against the U.S. stemming from an atomic testing program on the Marshall Islands, and thousands of persons who suffered death or injury from asbestos exposure.

A verdict in excess of $5 billion was achieved by Richard and the trial team in the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill cases in Alaska.  The verdict was the largest of its kind at that time.  The team won a Trial Lawyer of the Year Award from Trial Lawyers for Public Justice.

Richard was a member of many organizations.  He was president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA); Western Trial Lawyers Association (WTLA); Melvin M. Belli Society; Northern California Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA).  He was a founding Fellow of the Roscoe Pound/ATLA Foundation; a founder of the National Board of Trial Advocacy and the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice.  He was a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.

Richard was recognized as one of the best lawyers in the United States in the book, Best Trial Lawyers of America.  California Western School of Law conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws degree upon him.  He passed away July 15, 2004, and is survived by his wife of 42 years, Charlotte, and their three adult children and three grandchildren.