John O'Quinn Killed in Car Accident

Prominent Houston attorney John O'Quinn and assistant Johnny Cutliff died this morning when their speeding SUV slammed into a tree on Allen Parkway after the O'Quinn apparently lost control, police said.

 "I'm stunned. The community lost one of its biggest assets," said Rick Laminack, who worked with O'Quinn from 1987 until 2006. "He was a great lawyer who shared a lot of his wealth with people who needed help."

 O'Quinn, who made his fortune largely in personal injury cases, most notably in successful breast implant cases in the early 1990s, was a local philanthropist. He gave money to the Harris County Children's Assessment Center, the Houston Council on Alcohol and Drugs and various Texas Medical Center institutions including St. Luke's Hospital, which has a tower bearing his name..

The football field at the University of Houston's Robertson Stadium also is named for O'Quinn, a big UH supporter.

"Big man, big loss," Laminack said.

He also was a prolific giver to Democratic Party candidates. In the 2006 governor's race, he was the single biggest donor to Democratic nominee Chris Bell's unsuccessful campaign to unseat Republican Gov. Rick Perry. O'Quinn gave Bell $2.5 million. (Dale Lezon, Houston Chronicle)

Legal career

Making his name in handling plaintiff's litigation among O'Quinn's biggest wins were:

  • $1 billion verdict in 2006 against Wyeth Laboratory for its diet drug, fen-phen
  • $17.3 billion tobacco settlement for the state of Texas
  • $100 million for silicone breast implants made by Dow Corning

In total, O'Quinn is estimated to have won $1.5 billion for the firm of O'Quinn & Laminack of Houston. According to a 2006 article in Forbes, O'Quinn's own firm had pending cases against stock brokers  and hedge funds for shorting the shares of weak companies, and against Ford for rollover accidents caused by the Ford Explorer  In the past decade, O'Quinn won, through settlement or verdicts, more than $20 billion for his clients.

 

 

Posted on October 29, 2009 .