(1929 - 2014)
When he was 14, Joe Young traveled by steamship from Seattle to Anchorage, Alaska, where his mother was working as a camp cook. Joe left Seattle with just enough money to buy food during the long journey. By the time he arrived in Alaska, he had a pocket full of cash. Joe was a card player, and the gentlemen at the gambling tables failed to appreciate the teenagers incredible talent at poker until it was too late. It would not be the last time someone underestimated Joe because he was so quiet about his accomplishments. In future years, Joe often relied on his poker earnings to support his family, and his wealthy law school classmates were particularly helpful in this regard.
In Alaska, Joe became well-known not only as the best trial lawyer in the state, but also as a litigator who was fair, honest and courteous. His colleagues on the defense side recognized not just his legal talent, but also his high moral and ethical standards. For many years he served on the committee which was responsible for selecting Alaskas trial and appellate judges, and was the recipient of the Alaska Bar Association Award for Professionalism.
Joe was a successful trial lawyer not just because he was smart and diligent. His approach was unique because he understood, cared about, and had deep affection for the disadvantaged people in our society - and he was not afraid to fight the rich and powerful on behalf of his clients. Nothing intimidated Joe Young. His unusual background helps explain why Joe became such a strong advocate for the underdog.
In 1975 Joe represented Dr. Charles Munns in a products liability claim against Volkswagen. The plaintiff, who was involved in a car accident, became a quadriplegic due to an allegedly defective seatbelt in a Volkswagen he was driving. Volkswagen not only denied its seatbelt was defective, but also asserted that Dr. Munns was not wearing his seatbelt when the collision occurred. The German company rejected every settlement proposal and made no counter-offer. After a lengthy, hard-fought trial in Anchorage Superior Court, the jury awarded Joes client $6.8 million, which at the time was believed to be the largest verdict in the United States for a single personal injury plaintiff. It was this verdict that brought him to the attention of the Inner Circle.