When I joined forces with Arthur Luxenberg many years ago, we created a firm dedicated to protecting workers' rights and the legal rights of the disadvantaged while, at the same time, returning something back to the people of New York. Our employees take great pride in knowing that the Weitz & Luxenberg law firm is so often associated with charitable causes and activities. Our efforts are motivated by the firm's commitment to give something back to the communities in which we live and work.
It can cause even the most ruthless corporate CEO to tug nervously at his shirt collar and gulp hard when told that squaring off against him in court will be the brawny, knock-out-king of a law firm co-founded in 1986 by super attorney Perry Weitz, Esq.
Mr. Weitz — bold and resolute, relentlessly so — is a clenched-jaw champion of justice for the little guy. Always has been, always will be.
No surprise to learn then, that, early in his career, he gained a reputation as the kind of plaintiffs’ attorney capable of convincing corporations prone to digging-in their heels to instead put a case to rest quickly by settling out of court (and, in so doing, spare themselves a devastating confrontation with him in front of a jury).
After launching Weitz & Luxenberg, Mr. Weitz took care to populate the firm with attorneys who shared not only his impassioned views about the price corporations and wealthy individuals must pay for their negligent or willful acts committed against the innocent, but who also shared his energy, his enthusiasm and — above all — his extraordinary depth of understanding about what is possible under the law and along the outermost edges of its continually shifting contours.
U.S. presidents have sought his advice. Likewise legislators, academicians, nonprofit business managers, association leaders, charity directors and many others. The reason is simple: Perry Weitz is a man of ideas, with the clarity of vision that makes his a voice much sought-after — and sought-after in particular by those who lack a voice of their own.
Case in point: 36 shipyard workers dying or dead of the terrifying, aggressive cancer known as mesothelioma, which each of them contracted after being exposed on the job to the toxic mineral asbestos. Outraged over the story of unconscionable suffering and loss told by each victim at their first meeting with him, Mr. Weitz lost no time building a powerful case against the operators of the Brooklyn, N.Y., shipyard where the injuries occurred. So determined was he to win this for the workers that he put practically everything on the line – including his own home, mortgaged to raise money to cover the costs of legal research and evidence gathering. He proceeded despite the snickering of some veteran members of the personal-injury establishment, who believed the case hopeless and were sure Mr. Weitz would find only ruin in the end.
Instead, what Mr. Weitz found was victory — and a stunning $75-million award for the shipyard workers to compensate them for their massive medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Mr. Weitz remembers the case as physically and emotionally exhausting, in part because it was tried simultaneously in two different courts — one at the state level, the other at the federal. He also remembers it as worth every last drop of sweat and tears, for it delivered justice far beyond the expectations of the victims. However, the case accomplished something more. It made plain that Perry Weitz and his young firm were together a force with which to be reckoned.
More paths to victory
After having played a direct role in obtaining verdicts that, combined, grew to be worth a half-billion dollars, Perry Weitz decided it was time to hand off the job of engaging in courtroom combat to his team of extraordinary litigators while he focused on other, equally productive avenues of justice.
Settlement negotiations, for instance. Mr. Weitz is a masterful negotiator who has over and over persuaded defendants that it is in their own best interests to agree, out-of-court, to do the right thing and pay the plaintiffs a generous sum in settlement. The firm’s principal negotiator, Mr. Weitz has in this way wrested from defendant companies hundreds of millions of settlement dollars to end litigations involving asbestos, but also pharmaceuticals (such as DES, Vioxx, Baycol, Zyprexa, Rezulin, Seroquel and others), medical devices (silicone breast-implants, chiefly), and environmental pollution (his part in securing a $425-million settlement in a case where gasoline additive was alleged responsible for contaminating groundwater supplies earned him nomination as "Trial Lawyer of the Year" by the Public Justice Foundation). Mr. Weitz over the span of his career has been involved in settlements of more than 1,000 individual cases.
His negotiating skills also prove invaluable in the realm of asbestos bankruptcy trusts where he serves on numerous trust advisory committees that oversee the process by which asbestos defendants, emerging from bankruptcy, are able to set aside funds for victims. Mr. Weitz helped fashion agreements to create asbestos bankruptcy trusts bearing the names of companies including W.R. Grace, Kaiser Aluminum, Harbison Walker, Armstrong World Industries, Pittsburgh Corning, Babcock & Wilcox, Owens Corning, Burns & Roe, AC&S, U.S. Gypsum, U.S. Mineral. North American Refractories. A.P. Green, and Kentile Floors.
With success has come wide recognition. Not only is the law firm that Mr. Weitz jointly built now among the biggest names on the planet when it comes to mass-tort personal-injury litigation, but he himself is celebrated as one who harnessed courage and conviction to make something so great from so little.
Understandably, then, beginning in 2005, Mr. Weitz’s name has appeared annually without fail on the pages of New York Magazine to announce his selection as one of the area’s "Best Lawyers." He also has repeatedly and consistently earned the title of "Super Lawyer" from a prestige organization that gauges the performance of attorneys across the nation. In 2011, the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice proclaimed him the recipient of its "Champion of Justice" award. In 2012, he was New York City "Lawyer of the Year" in the category of mass-torts litigation and class-action lawsuits on the plaintiffs’ side.
His smashing legal triumphs naturally make him a much-in-demand lecturer and a fixture of national trial-law associations. He serves on the boards of the New York State Trial Lawyers Assn., Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, Legal Aid Society, and Jewish Lawyer Guild. Additionally, Mr. Weitz chairs the Tort and General Negligence sections of the New York County Lawyers Assn., and is a member of the Mass Tort Committee of the American Association for Justice. For Hofstra University — his law school alma mater — Mr. Weitz acts as dean's counsel.
Perry Weitz holds that no greater source of joy exists in the world than the privilege of providing help to those who lack the means of helping themselves. Thus, volunteerism and its close-cousin, philanthropy, are for him potent spurs to action. He occupies a seat on the board of trustees of North Shore University Hospital, and is a member of the men’s division executive committees for both the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the Children's Medical Fund (the latter affiliated with Schneider Children's Hospital).