[Temporary: while site is under construction]
A Houston Texas-based plaintiff attorney who was a key figure on Attorney-General Dan Morales' case against the tobacco industry.
PRELIMINARY MATERIAL ONLY
O'Quinn was one of Dan Morales's "junkyard dogs" who was enlisted on a contingency-fee basis ( variously reported as 15% or 18%) to recover Medicaid costs from the tobacco industry. He had already made over $40 million in 1984 from silicone-breast-implant cases.
In mid 1997 he was indicted in South Carolina for illegally trying to solicit business from accident victims in a USAir plane crash. He was also said to have been under investigation by the Texas Bar Association for improper solicitation.
O'Quinn has proved a magnet for negative publicity which he blames on the enemies he's created over the years, both among the defense lawyers he's defeated and plaintiff lawyers who are jealous. His critics say it's because he's willing to cut ethical corners to gain an advantage.
So whether these he was suffering genuine attacks by genuine bar associations trying to discipline members of the profession — or trumped up charges by lawyers associated with the tobacco industry (and other industries with a vested interest in tort reform) is anyone's guess. Certainly a similar attack on Wayne Reaud, one of his associates, was part of the political campaign run by Kenneth Starr against the Clintons and their friend Webster Hubbell.
1969: Recruited to the firm of Brown, Kronzer, Abraham, Watkins and Steely — then, the top plaintiff firm in Texas. He built a reputation collecting big verdicts. Among them was the case of Skeen vs. Monsanto, the biggest award ever made in a wrongful death case involving a single worker — $100 million. [Eventually the case was appealled and he was forced to settled for far less,].
1987: As part of the grievance investigation, a lawyer in O'Quinn's firm was alleged to have paid a client's ex-husband $5,000 to "disappear" and be unavailable to testify in her lawsuit, which concerned a fatal fire. His testimony might have proved helpful to the defense. [This was later held against O'Quinn]
1988: He persuaded a Wharton County jury to return a $600 million verdict in a natural gas dispute.
1992: He triggered the great silicone breast implant legal frenzy with a $25 million verdict against Bristol-Myers Squibb in Houston. He also persuaded a jury in Matagorda County to award a man $8 million in a lawsuit arising from the pesticide poisoning of his prize bull.
1993: O'Quinn was named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America by the National Law Journal, and included on its 1994 "Power List" of those lawyers winning more than 50 verdicts and 200 settlements of $1 million or more.
1995: Forbes magazine claimed he was the No. 2 US trial lawyer in income. It estimated that he had earned $40 million in 1994. The No.1 on their list was also a Houston lawyer, Joe Jamail who had won the $10.5 billion Pennzoil verdict.
1997: He pleaded guilty to an ethics breach in South Carolina. Under the plea, the state was spared the expense of a trial and it collected a quarter-million dollars from him in penalties. Seven other misdemeanor charges of illegally soliciting cases were dropped.
1997: One of his biggest cases, the Kennedy Heights toxic tort against Chevron, blew up when U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt was pushed into recusing himself after making some bizarre racial comments.
The Texas lawsuit against the major tobacco companies, in which O'Quinn is serving as lead attorney, went on hold for several months, then added another major player, South Carolina tobacco specialist Ron Motley, with whom O'Quinn would have to share the stage.
Even his best moment, a preliminary victory against Dow Chemical in the nation's first class-action breast implant trial in New Orleans, was later diminished when the trial judge took away the case's class status. That ruling means the verdict might have no meaning for the thousands of women whose cause had brought him to Louisiana in the first place.
The tobacco case reportedly is on the verge of settling, leaving the plaintiff lawyers with $1 billion or more to split up