Public Justice member Gerson Smoger

 

Meet Our Members: Gerson H. Smoger

Law Firm: Smoger & Associates, P.C. (Dallas, TX and Oakland, CA)

Practice Areas: Personal Injury, Consumer Litigation, Toxic Torts

Member Since: 1996

In 1995, Dallas attorney Gerson Smoger filed the first of many cases against the Doe Run Co. and its owners, including Fluor Corp. and Massey Energy. For decades, these companies' lead smelter in Herculaneum, Missouri, had been contaminating the air and soil of the surrounding community. Local children were developing serious lead-related cognitive and behavioral problems.

Though Doe Run and the smelter's past owners knew of the risks lead poses to children, none of them did anything to stop it. In fact, production increased. Discovery would later show that the owners hid from the community the serious levels of air contamination and soil contamination.

When Gerson learned about what was going on and filed that first case, he had no idea how involved it would become. Along with Mark Bronson of St. Louis, he has spent the next decade and a half working on it. More than 500 depositions have been taken. 

In Alexander v. Fluor, a case tried in 2011 for three months, attorneys Steve Bronson, an associate at Gerson's firm, and James Dowd were added to the team. The jury came back with a verdict of $358.5 million for the plaintiffs (the largest collectible award ever in Missouri), and the team was given our 2012 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award.

Gerson's victory defined Public Justice's mission of holding powerful wrongdoers accountable.

In addition to a nationwide practice (his firm has offices in Dallas and Oakland, California), Gerson has been a member of our board since 1996, including serving as President in 2008-09. He's a sponsor of our annual law student essay contest, which bears his name ("Hogan/Smoger Access to Justice Essay Contest"), and has written several amicus briefs for Public Justice. Always a generous supporter, Gerson was one of the key 30-for-30 contributors during our 2012 campaign -- individuals or firms who gave a minimum of $30,000.

Besides Alexander v. Fluor, Gerson has handled and tried numerous personal injury, toxic tort and consumer class actions around the country. In 2003 he was a finalist for our Trial Lawyer of the Year Award for Price v. Philip Morris, taking on Big Tobacco over the fraud of "light" cigarettes. Years ago, he successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court the right of Vietnam veterans to bring suits for Agent Orange exposure -- even though a prior settlement had been completely paid out. In 2012 he was named Missouri Environmentalist of the Year for his work representing not only the residents of Herculaneum for lead contamination but also those of Times Beach, Missouri, for dioxin contamination. More recently, as a result of a case settled with Wells Fargo Bank, he and his co-counsel -- Public Justice Foundation members Jeffrey Berns and Dave Arbogast -- secured a $1,000,000 cy pres award for Public Justice.

We're sure he has more great work ahead. Who knows where his next case might take him?

To join Gerson and thousands of other plaintiff's lawyers nationwide as members of the Public Justice Foundation, click here.

 

 

Attorneys Who Won Unprecedented Verdict against Negligent Lead Producer Named 2012 ‘Trial Lawyers of the Year’ at Gala in Chicago

 

missousrilawyersFour attorneys who won the largest jury 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 $358.5 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 it; in fact, production increased.

 

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,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  (stltoday.com/news/local/metro/million-verdict-in-lead-smelter-case-sends-clear-message/article_12f7e0ba-29ab-5894-8067-9a45ad255cfa.html)

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

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.  

 

Dr. Smoger received the Public Justice Foundation's 2012 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award, which he shared with his team of four attorneys, for their work fighting for the survivors of an around-the-clock lead smelting operation in Missouri which was known by the company to be leeching lead into the local air and soil and exposing children in particular to stunted growth, kidney failure, and neurological disorders.