Monday, February 4, 2013

David Bernick: The Devil's (Successful) Advocate

This is the stuff of the movies.

W R Grace, a giant corporation, was accused of contaminating a town in Montana with asbestos. It became one of the biggest cases of contamination by asbestos in US history.

In what looked like a sure loser of a case, W R Grace hired the services of David Bernick. This master litigator got them acquitted in 2009 after arguing that the EPA special investigator had a "special relationship" with one of the star witnesses.

Bernick is amongst the leading litigators and corporate lawyers of America. He later went on to join Phillip Morris as General Counsel. Here is what Cops and Courts reported:

“The issues,” says Bernick, who took the lead at trial, “were: How do you defend [Grace’s history in Libby] without minimizing
the tragedy? And how do you get the jury to focus on the weaknesses of the government’s theories as opposed to just going with the flow?”
Must have been hard work defending an unpopular client. The article goes on to state:

While in Missoula, Bernick’s dedicated work ethic was obvious. He spent his early morning hours eating a light breakfast at the DoubleTree Hotel’s Finn & Porter restaurant while poring over case documents in preparation for the day in court. The restaurant’s manager told me that Bernick was so focused on his work each morning that he barely responded to waitstaff’s inquiries, but after the the trial ended he personally thanked everyone for being so accommodating.

A blog at the time was less charitable to Mr. Bernick's great legal achievement. The Cold Truth had this to say during the trial:

With a theatrical delivery, feigned disgust, that a Shakespearian player would covet, Bernick read from innocuous emails between the agent and the witness as if they were confessions of drug dealings, or payoffs, or selling little children or possessing WMDs.

1 comment:

Be respectful and you shall be heard.