Marvin E. Lewis, one of San Francisco's most respected trial lawyers, died Saturday in a San Francisco rest home after a long illness. He was 84.
Lewis, a former San Francisco supervisor, was a major force in making Bay Area Rapid Transit a reality for commuters and is described as "a determined prophet" on a commemorative plaque that hangs in a BART station.
But Lewis is best known for his flamboyant eloquence and his unusual clients.
One of his early cases established him as a pioneer of the legal concept of psychic injury.
Lewis argued that a client became psychotic after falling through a wooden stairway at a North Beach apartment. He said the woman's fall was a fall from grace, psychologically speaking, and interfered with her religious upbringing. She was awarded $101,000.
He also was famous for the case dubbed "The Cable Car Named Desire" in which a jury ruled in favor of a young dancer who allegedly lost her mental balance and became a nymphomaniac after a cable car accident.
A San Francisco native, Lewis excelled in school, skipping college and enrolling in San Francisco Law School and becoming a member of the California Bar before he could vote.
Lewis was founder and first president of the California Trial Lawyers Assn. and was president of the American Trial Lawyers and Western Trial Lawyers associations.
As a city supervisor from 1944 to 1955, Lewis campaigned for mass transit and was instrumental in having street signs with block numbers in the left corner.