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State Bar of Texas set to honor Chandler as Legal Legend
State Bar of Texas set to honor Chandler as Legal Legend 150 150 CMZ Law Lufkin/Houston

Texas is full of legends. Tomorrow, it will have one more.

George Chandler – Lufkin Daily News The Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas is scheduled on Monday to induct Lufkin attorney George Chandler as a Texas Legel Legend at Baylor University.

Chandler is the founder and chairman of Chandler, Mathis & Zivley.

Texas Legal Legends’ purpose is to memorialize the stories of many legendary lawyers who have practiced in Texas, according to information provided by the State Bar of Texas, and to use those stories to enhance the public’s understanding of the historical importance of law students and lawyers to “emulate legends like Chandler by serving others and making difference – not just a living”

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Photo by ANDY ADAMS/The Lufkin News

Texas Legal Legends Induction of George Chandler
Texas Legal Legends Induction of George Chandler 150 150 CMZ Law Lufkin/Houston
Lufkin Lawyer George Chandler Named Baylor Lawyer of the Year
Lufkin Lawyer George Chandler Named Baylor Lawyer of the Year 150 150 CMZ Law Lufkin/Houston

George Chandler learned he had been selected Baylor Lawyer of the Year while he entertained some fellow Baylor Lawyers at his ranch in Wimberly. Pictured left to right are Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben, Noley Bice, former Texas Gov. Mark White, Chandler, Baylor Law Professor David Guinn, and Ray Stoker.

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Renowned trial lawyer George Chandler, founder and chairman of Chandler, Mathis & Zivley in Lufkin, Texas, has been named the 2009 Baylor Lawyer of the Year by Baylor Law School. Chandler will be honored at a luncheon on Jan. 15 at the Crown Colony Country Club in Lufkin.

George has, in his life and in his career, set a mark that provides each of us with aspirational goals of the loftiest sort,” said Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben. “He has attained the pinnacle of achievement as a trial lawyer. He has been honored time and time again for his work in the courtroom. He has a passion for vindicating the rights of those who have lost loved ones, suffered grievous injury, or otherwise been tread upon wrongfully. For George, his trial work is about reaching out to serve others in the courtroom and in the profession, a profession in which he has been a consistent, strong voice of leadership.

“George looks back to his Baylor experience, and especially so his experience at Baylor Law School, as one that equipped him to fully be a servant to others,” Toben added. “He is a consistent cheerleader and supporter of the Law School and my colleagues and me, and few can claim that they love the Green and Gold more than George and his teammate in life, his beloved Martha.

“I am delighted in my heart to see George receive this accolade from the Baylor Law Alumni Association. He joins the company in this with a ‘who’s who’ of Baylor lawyers who have used their gifts and talents to make a difference in the lives of so many.”

Chandler graduated from Baylor University in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in history. He attended Baylor on a tennis scholarship and was the MVP of the Bears’ 1960 tennis team. Upon completing his undergraduate work, he attended Baylor Law School, graduating in 1962. Chandler was a member of the Baylor Law Review, and in 1962, he authored the law review article “Exhibition of Injuries of Plaintiff in a Civil Case.”

Noley Bice, who was a Baylor Law classmate of Chandler, had nothing but praise in his nomination letter. “He was the kind of person who all wanted to like and enjoyed being around. This has not changed. George is liked and respected by those who have battled against him in the pits. He is the consummate professional and is the poster child for what Baylor Law graduates wish to see in all Baylor lawyers,” wrote Bice, who served as General Counsel for Baylor University.

David Guinn, Professor of Law, echoed Bice. “George Chandler is one of the finest graduates Baylor Law School has ever produced,” he said.

After graduation, Chandler began work with the Corpus Christi personal injury firm of Edwards & DeAnda, where he practiced until 1964. He then moved back home to East Texas, where he has practiced ever since. In 1971, Chandler formed his own firm, specializing in plaintiff’s personal injury and commercial trial law, and has operated that firm for almost 40 years.

Chandler’s numerous significant jury verdicts on behalf of his clients have received nationwide attention. He is a one of the most frequently requested speakers on trial tactics in Texas and throughout the nation, serving approximately 100 times on continuing legal education faculties around the country.

He was elected by his fellow statewide trial lawyers as the 2003 President of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, an organization he has been involved with since 1974. He has served as director and director emeritus of the TTLA and has sat on the TTLA Executive Committee since 1999. Additionally, Chandler is a member of the prestigious International Academy of Trial Lawyers, limited by invitation to 400 trial lawyers worldwide. He is a Diplomate of both the American Board of Trial Advocates and the National Board of Trial Advocacy and has served by appointment on various committees of the State Bar of Texas.

In addition to these many accomplishments and honors, Chandler has served a four-year term with the Association of Trial Lawyers of America as a state committeeman from Texas and was president of the Angelina County Bar Association in 1984. Chandler has been Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1978, the very first year that certification was available.

Chandler received the 2009 Texas Bar Foundation Ronald D. Secrest Award of the Texas Bar Foundation for the Outstanding Trial lawyer in Texas 2009. He also received the Lifetime Achievement Award for 2009 of the Texas Trial Lawyer’s Association for contributions to the justice system. George and his wife of 50 years, Martha, are both active in the First Baptist Church and both have taught adult Sunday School for many years.

Chandler is AV rated by the legal publication Martindale-Hubbell (that directory’s highest rating) and was a founding member of the Tonahill Society, a group of trial lawyers and judges dedicated to the preservation of trial by jury and the betterment of the legal profession.

“As long as I can remember, the name George Chandler has been associated with what is good in our profession, and what is great about Baylor lawyers,” wrote JoAl Cannon Sheridan, president of the Baylor Law Alumni Association. “George not only is an excellent trial lawyer with a creative, academic mind, but he is also a good person. He is kind and respectful to opposing counsel and always will take the time to mentor young lawyers. His awards and honors are too numerous to mention, however, given his dedication to Baylor University and the Law School, in particular, I believe this award would be his most treasured.”

Chandler and Martha have two children — daughter, Kelly Michaels, and son, Reich Chandler, who passed away in 2006 and was also a Baylor lawyer. The couple also has three grandchildren.

The Lawyer of the Year award is given annually to an outstanding alumnus who has brought honor and distinction to Baylor Law School and the legal profession. Past recipients include Watergate Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski, former Texas Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock, former F.B.I. director William Sessions, former U.S. Rep. Jack Hightower, and Gov. Price Daniel Sr., among others. The award has been presented by Baylor Law School since 1963.

Contact: Julie Carlson, Baylor Law School, 254-710-6681


Hospital, Nurse Found Responsible

By Jessica Savage

Longtime Lufkin attorney George E. Chandler has been named the 2009 recipient of the Texas Bar Foundation’s Ronald D. Secrest Outstanding Trial Lawyer Award.

Chandler, who has received national attention over the years by obtaining some of the largest verdicts in the United States, accepted the award at a ceremony held in Dallas. “It is a very humbling honor and particularly since I know there are a lot of better trial lawyers than I am,” Chandler said by phone.

The Ronald D. Secrest Award is handed out annually by the Texas Bar Foundation. It was established in 2002 by Houston law firm Beck, Redden & Secrest in memory of the late trial lawyer Ronald Secrest. The award honors an active trial lawyer who, by his or her practice, has demonstrated outstanding trial and advocacy skills, high ethical and moral standards, and exceptional professional conduct, thus enhancing the image of the trial lawyer, according to the Texas Bar Foundation.

Chandler’s law firm is no stranger to state recognition.

In 2003, Chandler and two of his associates, Reich Chandler and Clayton E. Dark Jr., were named Texas Super Lawyers by Law and Politics Media Inc, which surveyed more than 65,000 Texas lawyers for the prestigious title. Every year since then Chandler has been named a Texas Super Lawyer in Texas Monthly magazine.

Over the years, Chandler’s firm has made a name for itself by obtaining multi-million dollar jury verdicts.

The firm won a $143 million verdict in 1996 for 22 Brenham residents whose relatives were killed and/or had property damaged from a liquid gas pipeline explosion in April 1992. In 1999, the firm made local history when a Lufkin jury awarded a $16.7 million verdict to a Livingston man who was severely injured in a 1996 car crash. At the time, the verdict was the largest personal injury verdict in Angelina County.

“Chandler’s numerous significant jury verdicts on behalf of his clients have received nationwide attention,” according to a press release issued by the Texas Bar Foundation. “He is one of the most frequently requested speakers on trial tactics in the state of Texas, and throughout the nation, serving approximately 100 times on continuing legal education faculties around the country.”

Chandler received his bachelor’s and law degrees from Baylor University in 1960 and 1962, respectively. After graduation, Chandler moved to Corpus Christi to practice with the firm Edwards & DeAnda. He returned to East Texas in 1964, and in 1971 he formed Chandler Law Office and began specializing in plaintiff’s personal injury and commercial trial law.

Chandler has served as president of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association and currently serves as both a member of the association’s executive committee, as well as director emeritus. He is also a member of the prestigious International Academy of Trial Lawyers and a sustaining life fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. Chandler resides in Lufkin with their wife, Martha. The couple had two children together. Daughter Kelly Michaels is married with two children and lives in Tyler. Son Reich Chandler passed away Oct. 21, 2006, at the age of 39, following a 15-month battle with cancer. He had practiced law with his father in Lufkin.

At 70, Chandler currently practices in Lufkin and Houston with attorneys Kirk Mathis, W. Perry Zivley Jr. and with counsel of Judge Gerald Goodwin.

Chandler said he has no plans of retiring.

“As long as I’ve got my ability, I’ll go on as long as I live,” he said.


By David J. Lee – Odessa American

The children of a Seagraves man who died after a fall in an area nursing home in April 2002 say they’re glad “the truth has finally come out about what had happened” to their father. An Ector County jury awarded the family of Requil Coy Smith a $4.5 million judgment Tuesday.

“As far as in a personal injury case, I’ve never heard of a verdict this large,” said Judge Jay Gibson, who presided over the case. “I think this is the largest they’ve ever had in the county, I believe.”

Judy Green, one of Smith’s daughters who lives in Odessa, said she was happy with the result.

“Considering the circumstances around what happened in the rest home, that’s fair,” Green said.

Parks Methodist Retirement Village, 3301 Faudree Road, was ordered to pay the Smith family $1 million in actual damages and $3.5 million in punitive damages.

“Parks Methodist Retirement Village was shocked and amazed over the outcome of the eight-day trial,” Executive Director Jimmy Johnson said in a prepared statement.

Green said the nursing home was responsible for her father’s death because he was not adequately treated for a broken hip he suffered in a fall on March 18, 2002.

“It was established that he laid in the nursing home with no doctor’s care or any care for four hours until the family came in and found him on the day of the fall,” she said.

Smith, 94, died April 25, 2002. June Smith, the executor of Requil Smith’s estate, sued on behalf of his family – wife Gracie Smith and daughters Green, Joyce Estes, and herself.

The case was tried by George Chandler and Reich Chandler of Lufkin. Odessa lawyer Allen Moore was the attorney of record in Ector County for Requil Smith’s family.

Moore said the nursing home showed gross negligence by not taking adequate care of Smith.

“They let him fall and, from what we can tell, they picked him up and put him in his bed without X-raying his hip,” Moore said. “He was blind, and he could not talk. His daughters came to the room 3 1/2 hours later and found him motioning to his hip. They pulled back a sheet and saw his hip was distended or broke”

Johnson’s statement said Requil Smith had only been a resident of the nursing home for five days when he “suffered a predictable, unpreventable fall.”

“This case involved a 94-year-old man who suffered from a rare, terminal neurological disorder, which had resulted in 36 falls and numerous fractures prior to admission to Parks,” he said. “…Testimony at trial from two well-respected physician experts and a local nursing expert … confirmed that this fall was medically unavoidable.” Green, however, said the suit wasn’t about the fall.

“We didn’t blame Parks for the fall — Daddy was a high risk for falls,” she said. “It was what he did not receive after he fell,” Johnson said Parks did everything he was supposed to do.

“After the fall, the physician and family were notified, no new orders were issued, and the resident was monitored for changes in condition,” he said. “When the resident’s condition changed, the physician was again contacted, and the resident was immediately transferred to Medical Center Hospital for evaluation and treatment.”

Green said Requil Smith’s family believes the nursing home didn’t do its job, though.

“He was unable to move unassisted,” she said. “He had to have assistance to get up, to dress, to eat, to turn over in bed. My sister did a lot of investigation before choosing a rest home. Parks said they could take care of him. They knew he was a high risk; they knew his history of falls.

“Like the attorney said, ‘they took your money and said they’d take care of your dad, and they didn’t,’ ” she continued.

Moore said it would probably take three to four years to collect the money — after all Parks’ appeals are exhausted.

Green said the money was not as important to the family as “the truth,” though.

“It was in our minds that it was never about the money,” she said. “We just wanted the truth to come out that there is neglect in rest homes. Things happen to elderly patients that are never reconciled. We wanted in some way to voice that this should never happen to anyone anywhere.”

Regardless, Moore said the judgment was just.

“I think the jury was emphatic in what they thought,” he said. “It’s more than fair. I hope it sends a message out to the nursing home community.” Johnson had a different assessment.

“Parks vehemently disagrees with the jury’s findings and does not believe the evidence supports such an award,” he said in the prepared statement.


By Christine S. Diamond – Lufkin Daily News

An Angelina County jury on Thursday night awarded $2.7 million to the 6-year-old son of a man who died in an automobile accident in December 2000.

Emerson Roy Shaw Sr. died at age 36 on Dec. 26, 2000, when his Ford Aspire collided with a United Parcel Service truck that hydroplaned on state Highway 63 just east of the Zavalla City Hall and crossed the center line, according to former Zavalla Police Chief Josh Parks.

The jury awarded Shaw’s son, Emerson Roy Shaw Jr., $2.65 million for the loss of his father, according to plaintiff’s attorney Reich Chandler. Jurors also awarded the man’s family $50,000 for the mental anguish he suffered in the moments after the accident, as well as $6,000 for burial costs, Chandler said.

UPS attorney Doug Gosda said it was too soon for him to comment on the case or say whether UPS intends to appeal the jury’s decision.

Melinda Shaw filed the wrongful death suit as next-of-kin for Shaw Jr., her nephew. She is the boy’s current guardian. In addition to caring for the boy, Melinda Shaw is raising two of her own children and the child of a deceased sister, Chandler said.

At nine months old, Emerson Shaw Jr. lost his mother to the same disease that brought him into the world mentally handicapped, Chandler said. Shortly after his father’s death, the boy’s grandmother also died, the attorney said.

Chandler said UPS’s attorneys argued that because the boy’s grandmother was raising Shaw Jr. at the time his father was killed, the father’s death should be of no economic value to the boy, Chandler said.

His father regularly visited him,” Chandler said. “And (Shaw Jr.) spent every other weekend or so with his dad at his father’s home.

Justice was finally served in this case for this little boy,” he said.

Wes Allen Thomason, the 32-year-old driver of the UPS truck, was neither ticketed nor charged with any offense in connection with the traffic accident, Chandler said. UPS initially terminated the Lufkin man, but rehired him after he filed a grievance through his union, Chandler said.

UPS also blamed Texas Department of Transportation in the accident, alleging the road was in poor condition, Chandler said. Parks said the accident was Zavalla’s first fatal wreck in many years and the first he had seen in that area.

“It was raining at the time of the wreck and we alleged that the UPS truck — which had a history of hydroplaning, had defective tires and that the driver was driving too fast for the circumstances,” Chandler said.

After four days of hearing evidence, the jury deliberated for four hours before announcing their decision about 7 p.m. Thursday, Chandler said. The jury award is the largest this year in Angelina County, he said. “We didn’t ask for a specific amount. They just used their good judgment to determine the proper amount of this child’s loss,” Chandler said. “There’s no norm in a case like this. It all depends on the evidence.”

State District Judge Paul White, who presided over the civil trial, appointed Lufkin attorney Clay Dark as the boy’s legal representative, Chandler said.

“This award benefits just the child,” Chandler said. “Clay Dark’s job is to make sure that any money awarded to the child is properly invested — custodial care, therapy, those types of things.”

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