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Setting the standard

Setting the standard
This content is supplied by Girardi | Keese and produced by Motiv8. The newsroom or editorial department of Tribune Publishing was not involved in its production. (Photograph Courtesy of Girardi | Keese)

In founding Girardi | Keese, legendary trial lawyer Tom Girardi has redefined excellence in the law.

Fifty years ago, Tom Girardi opened the doors to his firm in downtown Los Angeles, determined to build a law firm where anyone who had been injured — whether physically or financially — could obtain excellent counsel.


A few years later, Girardi proved the seriousness of his ambition: in a case where an African-American teenager was paralyzed after being denied hospital care, Girardi secured an award of $1.4 million — the highest medical malpractice verdict at the time in California.

This unprecedented verdict set the tone for Girardi | Keese, which has since built a reputation for its pioneering work on behalf of people who have suffered personal injury and financial harm because of the actions of large corporations.


"Representing people who have been injured is the highest calling there is," Girardi says. "From Day One, I have been absolutely committed to helping the little guy get justice, and I think that is what has allowed us to build a firm capable of taking on any matter, no matter how challenging or complex."

While Girardi started out focusing on automobile cases, he has expanded the firm's practice to include catastrophic injury cases, medical negligence, toxic tort, pharmaceutical cases, intellectual property matters, and class actions. "It's important to be forward-thinking in terms of what the next cause for concern will be — the new frontier of harm," Girardi notes. "Over the years we've transitioned into new territories as the world has changed around us."

Girardi | Keese has successfully challenged auto manufacturers for unsafe product design and defective component parts. It has taken retailers and manufacturers to court for selling unsafe toys and children's products. And the firm's trial lawyers have regularly gone to court on behalf of people harmed by dangerous drugs or defective medical devices. The firm's product liability lawyers have even fought airplane and component parts manufacturers over design defects that caused airplane accidents.

As a result of these efforts, the firm has achieved more than $11 billion in verdicts and settlements over its history, including $4.85 billion against Merck for harm caused by Vioxx; $2.2 billion for California consumers defrauded by Sempra in the California energy crisis; $785 million against Lockheed Martin in the Skunk Works health hazards litigation; $633 million for residents of Hinkley, Calif., poisoned by PG&E; and $545 million in a class action against Farmers Group and Zurich Financial Services.


The firm's most recent successes include an $18 million verdict for Bryan Stow, a paramedic who was nearly beaten to death on the opening day of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011; a $765 million settlement for dozens of former pro football players suffering from memory loss and other ailments related to concussions; and a $90 million settlement for the city of Carson and the 1,500 residents of the Carousel development, which was built on top of a contaminated former oil storage site. The firm has also represented thousands of individuals injured by defective pharmaceuticals and other medical devices, such as Yaz, Fosamax, and transvaginal mesh.

"Our cases may be against some of the biggest companies in the world, but we've proven time and again that we are the ultimate warriors for our clients," observes Girardi, who in 2016 was named by his peers to the top spot on the Southern California Super Lawyers list.

"When our colleagues say, 'It's a Girardi | Keese case,' that means the case will get the resources it needs; that we will face the biggest companies in the world without blinking, without backing down; and that we will work for what is legally and morally right: fair compensation for every client."