(1922 - 2001)
Legendary trial lawyer John Hoyt was widely considered to be the founder of modern tort law in Montana and was regarded as one of the preeminent trial lawyers in the nation. John tried countless jury trials on behalf of injured Montanans as well as injured people from states other than The Treasure State. Due to his tireless preparation, creative legal thinking, and prudent judgment John obtained numerous record-setting million-dollar jury verdicts against some of the largest corporations in world.
John was a great storyteller and often put people in stitches. In 1996 at the Inner Circle meeting in San Antonio, John relayed how he got a $250 million verdict against Northern Pacific Railroad. It seems that NPRR, in exchange for a right-of-way over the Crow tribal land, agreed to try all cases involving Crow tribal members in Tribal Court. When the railroad killed three Crow members at a railroad crossing, John sued on their behalf and during trial, NPRR's safety engineer testified that "they always use due care for the Indians they kill." The jury retired and John enacted for us what he suspected the jury was doing in the jury room - his white-man's version of the Native American money dance. His impression was hilarious!
John could also be reserved and modest. He had been a bombardier during the war and told the story of how he got shot down over Polesti in Romania. His plane was called the Jolly Roger and that was the name he later gave his ranch in Montana. John was put in a horrible prisoner of war camp. But when the Russians got close, his prison guards ran away so John - a cowboy from Shelby, Montana - led his fellow prisoners across Europe to the American lines foraging for food and shelter all the way. John Hoyt was not only a hero to attorneys, but a hero to all Americas.