Posted Mar 22, 2008 12:34 am CDT
Almost broke and looking for work as an Alabama lawyer 30 years ago, Jere Beasley wasn’t having any luck.
“I couldn’t get a job, so I opened a one-person law firm,” he tells the Associated Press.
Now recognized as one of the nation’s tort kings, the 72-year-old attorney reigns at a prominent 44-lawyer firm in downtown Montgomery. Among its recent work: helping to negotiate a $4.8 billion Merck settlement over Vioxx claims and a $700 million Monsanto settlement over pollution at an old plant. It also represented the plaintiffs in recent wins of $11.9 billion from Exxon Mobil and $215 million from the AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company.
Forgoing what some would consider the hard-earned trappings of success, though, Beasley still drives a pickup to work.
Skip Tucker of Alabama Voters Against Lawsuit Abuse considers Beasley an archenemy, but has to admit he is a highly skilled trial lawyer. “If I had to point to one thing that has made Beasley rich beyond the wildest dreams of avarice, it would be this,” Tucker says. “He has an extraordinary ability to seem and sound sincere to juries and to most media people.”
Beasley laughs off such criticism, saying that he is often the only chance for an average guy seeking to pursue a legitimate complaint against corporate America.
‘It doesn’t bother me that I’ve never been invited to join the Montgomery Country Club,” he tells AP. “I don’t guess I ever will be.”