Trial lawyers aren’t prone to keep quiet, but that’s exactly what Gil Purcell did last week when he found himself in a Las Vegas hotel seated next to Ohio state court Judge Harry Hanna.
Purcell was there attending a conference on asbestos litigation. Hanna was the keynote speaker. And one of the topics addressed, Purcell said, was Hanna’s published ruling in January that accused the Brayton Purcell law firm and one of its partners of fraud.
Hanna’s decision to disqualify the Brayton firm had little immediate impact, because the plaintiff’s firm had already withdrawn from a suit against Lorillard Tobacco, the maker of Kent Cigarettes. But the ruling stirred up a huge buzz in the defense bar and put a cloud over the Brayton firm.
Purcell promised his partners he wouldn’t disrupt Hanna’s speech, and he says he kept his word. But he had to hold his tongue extra carefully when he returned from a conference call, slipped into a seminar and found himself seated side by side with the judge who had hammered his firm’s reputation. (Just imagine the sweat stains.)
“I didn’t say anything, and he doesn’t know me from Adam,” said Purcell, who sat there for an hour.
“Some day he will.”
— Matthew Hirsch