J. Michael Veron
Mike received his B.A. degree in English Literature from Tulane University, and his J.D. degree from Tulane Law School (1974). In law school, he served as an editor of the Tulane Law Review and was elected to membership in The Order of the Coif. After clerking for Justice Walter Marcus on the Louisiana Supreme Court, he attended Harvard Law School and received his LL.M. degree in 1976.
After graduating from Harvard, Mike was offered a position on the faculty at LSU Law School but elected to return to Lake Charles, where he began his career in a very public way. In his very first case, he served as co-counsel with Joe J. Tritico in the defense of Henry A. “Ham” Reid, Jr., who was then Sheriff of Calcasieu Parish. Reid, who had served as sheriff for 39 years, had been indicted on numerous criminal charges. After two highly-publicized trials resulted in acquittals, the remaining charges were dismissed.
In the years since, Mike has been an active trial lawyer, litigating a variety of civil and criminal cases involving such diverse matters as personal injuries, securities fraud, toxic torts, breaches of trust, construction disputes, school board elections, and civil rights claims. In so doing, he has represented both plaintiffs and defendants, including members of the Bench and Bar. He has also represented judges wrongly accused of misconduct. E.g., In re Quirk, 97-1143 (La. 12/1/97), 705 So.2d 172.
Among his many first-chair trial experiences, Mike successfully defended a series of personal injury claims arising from chemical leaks at a local refinery, e.g., Dawsey v. Olin Corp., 782 F.2d 1254 (5th Cir. 1986); Broussard v. Olin Corp., 546 So. 2d 1301 (La. App. 3d Cir. 1989); Walls v. Olin Corp., 533 So. 2d 1375 (La. App. 3d Cir. 1988), writ denied, 536 So. 2d 1220 (La. 1989); Schepp v. Olin Corp., 445 So. 2d 1280 (La. App. 3d Cir.), writ denied, 448 So. 2d 117 (La. 1984). He also defended a consortium of companies that had manufactured insulation products containing asbestos against claims that exposure to these produced caused asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. In five wrongful death cases, Mike earned five “zero” verdicts that were affirmed on appeal. E.g., Tramonte v. Fibreboard Corp., 947 F.2d 762 (5th Cir. 1991).
Mike has also successfully represented both plaintiffs and defendants in maritime cases. E.g., Thornton v. Gulf Fleet Marine Corp., 752 F.2d 1074 (5th Cir. 1985); Musial v. A & A Boats, Inc., 696 F.2d 1149 (5th Cir. 1983). In 1985, he also secured what at the time was one of the highest bench verdicts rendered in Calcasieu Parish on behalf of an injured plaintiff. Miller v. Louisiana Dept. of Transportation & Development, 484 So. 2d 993 (La. App. 3d Cir. 1986).
More recently, Mike turned his attention to commercial litigation, representing both plaintiffs and defendants. He secured the cancellation of a mineral lease and the return of two producing gas wells in a suit brought on behalf of Amoco Production Company. The recovery was valued at more than $13 million. Amoco Production Company v. Texas Meridian Resources Exploration Inc., 180 F.3d 664 (5th Cir. 1999). In May of 2000, Mike completed a jury trial on behalf of the owners of property contaminated by oil and gas operations that resulted in a verdict exceeding $50 million. The case became one of the most talked-about verdicts in the state. Mike then successfully defended the result against industry-wide opposition in the Supreme Court of Louisiana. Corbello v. Iowa Production Co., 2002-0826 (La. 2/25/03), 850 So.2d 686, 33 Envtl. L. Rep. 20,230. The verdict was ultimately valued at $76 million. The following year, in September 2001, Mike was lead counsel in securing a $30 million verdict on behalf of an oil company for breach of a contract to reassign mineral leases. With interest, the verdict was valued at $51 million. Again, the result was affirmed despite a vigorous appeal by the defendants. Amoco Production Co. v. Texaco Inc., 2002-0240 (La.App. 3 Cir. 1/29/03), 838 So.2d 821, writ denied, 2003-1102, 1104 (La. 6/6/03), 845 So.2d 1096.
In recognition of his extensive jury trial experience, Mike was elected to membership in the American Board of Trial Advocates, an invitation-only organization comprised of attorneys who have completed at least 20 jury trials as lead counsel. Mike has been named to the 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 editions of Super Lawyers , and is also listed in Who’s Who in America, as well as in The Best Lawyers in America.
Mike has also maintained a continuing interest in academics, publishing numerous law review articles. See, e.g., The Contracts Clause and the Court: A View of Precedent and Practice in Constitutional Adjudication, 54 Tul. L. Rev. 117 (1979); In Search of Precedent in the Oil Patch: Louisiana’s Market Value Cases, 44 La. L. Rev. 949 (1984); Evaluating the Economic Impact of Personal Injuries, 31 Loy. L. Rev. 825 (1986), partially reprinted in M. Shapo, Tort and Injury Law 464-67 (1990); The Trial of Toxic Torts: Scientific Evidence in the Wake of Daubert, 57 La. L. Rev. 647 (1997). Mike also has authored a training manual for trial lawyers, LITIGATION HANDBOOK: A METHOD OF TRIAL PRACTICE, which he used as a course text while teaching courses as an adjunct professor at both LSU and Tulane law schools. As a consequence of his work at LSU, Mike was inducted as a member of the LSU Law Center Hall of Fame in 1993. He is also a frequent CLE program speaker.
Outside of the office, Mike served for many years on the Board of Directors of the Louisiana Golf Association, and was the President of that organization in 1990. He has also served as a USGA Committee member for over twenty years and has authored several articles for the USGA Green Section Record. He also serves as a USGA Rules Official and was the 1991 and 2007 club champion of the Lake Charles Country Club.
Based on his interest in golf, Mike also has published three novels. His first novel, entitled THE GREATEST PLAYER WHO NEVER LIVED, was released in the spring of 2000 and immediately received critical praise. The New York Times described the book as “golf’s literary rookie of the year,” and USA Today called Mike a “master of fiction.” The Seattle Times ranked the book second on its list of “Five Wonderful Golf Books.” The Miami Herald declared that “[i]f you have ever played just one round of golf, and appreciate clear, spare writing with a touch of To Kill a Mockingbird, you will love this book.” T & L Golf Magazine ran an article about Mike entitled “The John Grisham of Golf.”
Mike’s second book, THE GREATEST COURSE THAT NEVER WAS, was published in 2001. The New Orleans Times-Picayune declared it to be “every bit as good a read as [THE GREATEST PLAYER WHO NEVER LIVED]” and a “must read for golf aficionados.”
Mike’s third book, THE CADDIE, was released in 2004 to similar acclaim. Caribbean Golf Magazine praised the book as “a wonderful fountain of knowledge for golfers of all levels.”
As lead counsel in the landmark case of Corbello v. Iowa Production, 850 So.2d 686 (La. 2003), Mike obtained a $76 million judgment on behalf of his mother’s family for the contamination of his great-grandfather’s farm by Shell Oil Company. That experience inspired Mike’s fourth book, a nonfiction account of his family’s battle with big oil entitled SHELL GAME, which was released in 2007. Like his earlier books, Mike’s first nonfiction work earned similar praise from critics. Publisher’s Weekly declared the book to be “a cracking good read.” The Library Journal recommended SHELL GAME in equally glowing terms: “Veron knows how to hold readers’ interest. An engaging plot, colorful characters, well-written narration, and an ultimately happy ending make this a satisfying work.”
From 1983 to 1993, Mike was a member of the Committee on Bar Admissions by appointment of the Supreme Court of Louisiana. In that capacity, he was responsible for the state bar examination on Louisiana Civil Procedure. He also served on the inaugural Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Committee of the Supreme Court of Louisiana and is currently a member (and past Chairman) of the Continuing Legal Education Program Committee of the Louisiana State Bar Association.
- Evaluating the Economic Impact of Personal Injuries, 31 Loyola Law Review 825, 1986
- Louisiana’s “Market Value” Gas Cases, 44 Louisiana Law Review 949, 1984
- Ely, Democracy and Distrust (Book Review), 56 Tulane Law Review 447, 1981
- Dawsey v. Olin Corp., 782 F.2d 1254 (5th Cir. 1986)
- Broussard v. Olin Corp., 546 So. 2d 1301 (La. App. 3d Cir. 1989)
- Walls v. Olin Corp., 533 So. 2d 1375 (La. App. 3d Cir. 1988)
- Schepp v. Olin Corp., 445 So. 2d 1280 (La. App. 3d Cir.)
- Thornton v. Gulf Fleet Marine Corp., 752 F.2d 1074 (5th Cir. 1985)
- Musial v. A & A Boats, Inc., 696 F.2d 1149 (5th Cir. 1983)
- Miller v. Louisiana Dept. of Transportation & Development, 484 So. 2d 993 (La. App. 3d Cir. 1986)
- Corbello v. Iowa Production, et al, 850 So.2d 686 (La 2003)
- M.J. Farms, Ltd. v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 998 So.2d 16 (La 2008)
- Supreme Court of Louisiana. In re Quirk, 705 So.2d 172 (La 1997)