Law Practice

Young Trial Atty Wins Big Katrina Case

A renowned trial lawyer on the Mississippi gulf coast who had a big influence in the life of novelist John Grisham, attorney Will Denton made a name for himself as a plaintiff lawyer after Hurricane Camille hit the state in 1969. He didn’t live to see the devastation wrought on his state by Hurricane Katrina.

But his son, Jack, did. And, although far less experienced in insurance law, the 33-year-old has already won a big-bucks victory in a coverage case against State Farm, the Los Angeles Times details in a in-depth story about Jack Denton and the practice he inherited. The original $2.5 million punitive damages award in the case he won for Gulf Coast homeowners over the insurer’s bad-faith denial of coverage on their storm-flattened home has since been reduced to $1 million.

After his father died on the table during a Houston heart operation, at age 62, nine months before Katrina hit, Jack Denton took over his dad’s law practice. He got crucial help from a former law professor, Oxford, Miss., attorney Bill Walker, who was taught by Will Denton how to try a case. And, after Katrina, near-emergency circumstances pushed Jack Denton to try even harder to follow in his father’s footsteps. Today Jack Denton works–and lives–in his dad’s former office, and Walker is his mentor. “He was getting trained by his old daddy, even though his old daddy’s not here anymore,” Walker is quoted saying.

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