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James E. Beasley, Sr.

James E. Beasley, Sr.
Status: Deceased

(1926 - 2004)

Jim Beasley was known as "The People's Lawyer" and "Philadelphia's Version of The King of Torts" because of his history of taking on so many giants on behalf of the little guy. Jim gave a voice to ordinary people who otherwise would never have had the ability to take on large insurance companies and Fortune 500 corporations. Size mattered to Jim: The smaller the aggrieved party, the more apt he was to become their champion.

Jim took on the high and mighty with no fear of the consequences. Jim was the only lawyer in Philadelphia who would routinely sue the Philadelphia Daily News, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other media outlets. Most lawyers feared media retribution. In addition, it was and remains almost impossible to obtain a favorable resolution in a defamation action on behalf of a public figure, under the actual malice standard. Yet, Jim brought case after case and, remarkably, got paid time after time. His two libel trials for famed Philadelphia lawyer Richard A. Sprague against the Philadelphia Inquirer rank at or near the top of the most important civil trials in Philadelphia during the second half of the twentieth century.

Jim took a lot of cases that personal injury firms of today might not be willing to accept. He understood that people need advocates, not every case will be profitable, and you never know what will happen once you get into the middle of a lawsuit. On one occasion Jim accepted the representation of a small businessman from Northeast Philadelphia whose business telephone listing was left out of the White Pages by Bell of Pennsylvania. The phone company had corrected their error in an errata, but the business owner still felt aggrieved. When Jim filed suit, Bell responded by noting that the claim was capped by a Public Utility Commission regulation stating that where a customer was left out of the White Pages, they are entitled to two months of basic phone service which was worth about $12, total. Jim got this regulation declared unconstitutional. He then tried the case against Bell of Pennsylvania, obtaining a $50,000 verdict in compensation and $100,000 in punitives.

Jim had an intense worth ethic and won multimillion-dollar verdicts with regularity. His first million-dollar verdict was in Pennsylvania in the 1960s on behalf of an attorney who was injured in a motor vehicle accident. Jim went on to become known for his many complex cases, including some that involved important issues of justice and public policy. Among his most significant wins was a $105 million verdict he won for families of individuals killed in the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11 against Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

Jim has been described by friends and associates as a shy but demanding man with a marvelous sense of humor, boundless energy, and unequivocal integrity. An unassuming man who lived and breathed the law.
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