Jury awards don’t come much bigger than $850 million.
That’s the amount lead lawyer Richard “Rick” J. Stone of Ball Janik won last year for German industrial manufacturer MAN AG against Portland-based Freightliner.
It was the largest U.S. jury award last year; and in state history, the largest overall verdict and largest punitive-damage award.
Stone, 62, who has concentrated on complex business disputes while practicing with several of the nation’s largest firms, was tapped by MAN to handle the litigation alleging fraudulent transfer of company funds.
He also has won a landmark plaintiff’s jury verdict in a federal securities fraud trial and successfully defended one of the largest ($5 billion) patent trials in American history.
“I’ve had a career of giant, bet-your-company cases that I’ve actually gotten to trial. It’s just good fortune, because you can’t plan it,” says Stone modestly. His approach differs from some.
“Most lawyers would prefer to present their own witnesses,” he explains, because they like knowing what to expect. “But the kind of cases I do, the compelling evidence comes from the other side, adverse witnesses … A core part of being successful in these cases is developing and presenting evidence from the other side.
“I really believe in juries. If you do your job and tell them the truth, they know what to do.”
The verdict form was 80 pages long. Stone was the lead trial attorney, but he says: “These kinds of cases are not done by one person. [The rest of the team] all deserve a share of the credit.”