Background

I was born in El Paso, Texas, while my Dad was designing and testing rockets at the Army Guided Missile School at Ft. Bliss. I have lived in El Paso, Germany, Colorado Springs, and Ft. Belvoir VA. I went to high school in Hawaii and college in California. 

After college I worked for two years as a Paramedic in Lahaina, Maui, and taught Emergency Medicine courses around the State of Hawaii for the Department of Health. 

I then volunteered for CARE Medico, and worked in Jamhouriat Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, as an Emergency Medicine consultant. 

 

Law School

I returned to NYC, weighing 135 lbs. after three bouts with amebic dysentary. I took the LSAT and entered law school four weeks later. I was the Dean's Research Assistant in law school, and wrote a book for my professors entitled "Pennsylvania Trial Handbook." I graduated Cum Laude, and took my first job with Fuchsberg & Fuchsberg in Manhattan.

 

Fuchsberg & Fuchsberg

Fuchsberg & Fuchsberg was one of the few nationally known negligence firms, having gotten the first million dollar verdict in the United States. When I started with the firm, Jacob Fuchsberg was on the Court of Appeals, and his brother, Abraham Fuchsberg, ran the firm. I was Abe's associate, and Abe taught me everything, from investigation, to complaint, discovery, negotiation, trial and closing statement.

I wrote two books with Abe Fuchsberg, the first in 1982. He was the Editor in Chief of the Trial Lawyers Quarterly, the official publication of the New York State Trial Lawyers Assn, and I was the Managing Editor, for 10 years.

Abe died in 2003 at the age of 87. He played a huge role in my development as an attorney. In one speech at a Trial Lawyers Association dinner, he said he'd like to call himself my mentor. I once accidently called him Dad.

Although the firm died with Abe, there are many alumni of Fuchsberg & Fuchsberg who are now playing major roles in the negligence field in New York State.  

 

O'Dwyer & Bernstein

I also worked for a year for Paul O'Dwyer, a colorful and popular figure in New York City politics. 

Paul hired me in 1981 to represent the Government of Iran in their lawsuit against the Shah of Iran. The Iran Hostage crisis had just begun, and Paul was their attorney. We litigated the constitutionality of the Iran-US Hostage Agreement in the US Supreme Court, and worked with Bani Sadir and the young intellectual Iranians, until they were ousted by the mullahs and the country spiraled back into the Dark Ages.

Paul was focused on achieving political goals - world peace, justice for the oppressed, forgiveness for the good hearted criminal. I related to the liberal Irish Catholic community that Paul served. His son Brian now runs O'Dwyer & Bernstein, and is very active in national and local Democratic politics, carrying on his father's political leadership. 

I never felt at home in a law firm as much as I did at O'Dwyer & Bernstein. I had the feeling that my father and grandfather's ghosts were in the waiting room with the Jesuit missionary magazines and old - not 'antique' - furniture. 

Queller & Fisher

I then was hired away by Queller & Fisher, a negligence firm on Wall Street. 

Fred Queller was, and is, the best trial lawyer I have ever personally watched. He charmed juries on their level, while outsmarting lawyers on their level - a rare combination. 

I prepared the products liability cases for Queller & Fisher, and then helped Queller try them. 

I wrote one book with Fred Queller.

Product liability cases take years to work up. Queller didn't really know that much about products liability - few lawyers did - and we perfected how to prepare and try the cases together. 

Finding admissible evidence and the right expert witnesses, and then figuring out how to explain sophisticated philosophical issues of engineering, took years of on-the-job training. It takes years of experience to learn how to streamline the cases, where to spend time and money and what to skip, and how to present the cases clearly and simply. 

Judges need education about the evidentiary issues involved, in almost every case.

It was while I was in charge of the products liability department at Queller Fisher that I learned about the area of law that I find most to my liking. 

Products Liability

When a lawyer makes a mistake, he turns the pencil around and erases it. When a factory worker puts his hand in the wrong spot for a second, he loses a finger or worse. 

Since I first read Upton Sinclair's muckraking about the meat industry in The Jungle I've felt sorry for guys who struggle to make a living in dangerous industries. 

I read every safety engineering book around, and learned about the improvements in safety that are available to protect workers from the tools of the production line.  

I called and got to know professors and authors around the country who have devoted their professional careers to the subject of product safety.

Governmental entities like OSHA and the CPSC are so underfunded that they are only symbolic in their effect. 

It is the trial lawyer who has brought about the changes in safety in this country - from safety belts to machine guards to child-proof lids. 

I am proud to be one of the lawyers who serve in essence as private attorney generals, enforcing the laws designed to protect the public.

 

Family and Ancestors