Law firm

Cooper Law Firm mourns the loss of groundbreaking environmental lawyer Stuart Smith

Lawyer Stuart Smith

Stuart H. Smith (born September 15, 1960), a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, who was a noted attorney for an environmental plaintiff, died in Paris, France on May 20, 2022.

Smith is survived by his wife Barry J. Cooper, Jr., his mother Judith M. Smith, his brother Clark M. Smith, his nephews McLean Smith and Owen Smith, his niece Emory Smith, his half-sister Cathy Thames and predeceased by his father Frederick Martin Smith and younger brother Whitney Smith. Smith’s third great-grandfather and the grandfather’s two younger brothers with the surname of Toledano fought in the Battle of New Orleans in 1812.

Smith attended Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School in New Orleans and later earned a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and a law degree from Loyola University of New Orleans Law School. Orleans, where he would later establish the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice. After working as an attorney for environmental plaintiffs for more than three decades and founding numerous legal partnerships, Smith’s last business venture was with his lifelong partner, Mr. Cooper, and the expansion of the Cooper Law Firm, LLC in New Orleans.

Smith’s legal career gained national recognition in the early 1990s as a crusader against big oil companies for environmental contamination associated with radioactive oilfield waste. Smith had been lead counsel in more than 100 environmental contamination cases, which primarily involved personal injury and property damage caused by sewage and sludge released from oil company operations into the environment. In 1992, Smith was lead counsel in Street’s civil suit against Chevron, which pitted the family owners of a pipe yard in rural Southeast Mississippi against a multinational oil conglomerate. Apparently, for years Chevron had sent a radioactive oilfield pipe to Street, Inc., for cleaning without informing the owners that the pipe contained radioactive material. Investigators from the Mississippi Division of Radiation Health found that radium radiation on the street property was 500 times higher than background levels. Chevron eventually settled the case for an undisclosed sum of money in what remains one of the longest jury trials in Mississippi history. The New York Times newspaper previously reported on the case in December 1990.

In 2001, Smith was lead counsel in a blockbuster oilfield radiation case that resulted in a substantial jury verdict against ExxonMobil for contaminating private property it leased from the Grefer family in Harvey, Massachusetts. Louisiana. ExxonMobil successfully appealed the jury verdict seeking a reduction in the amount of punitive damages and was still ordered to pay compensatory damages. At the time, it was considered the second-largest jury verdict in legal history in favor of a single family against an oil company. Smith also served as lead counsel representing more than 4,000 commercial fishers in 2010, whose livelihoods were devastated by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Despite several Molotov cocktail firebombs at Smith’s French Quarter residence over a two-and-a-half-year period in the late 1990s and a subsequent death threat, all related to Smith’s Pro Bono activities in the French Quarter, this did not deter Smith. continued his Pro Bono efforts to protect the quality of life in his beloved city. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana, with the assistance of municipal, state, and federal authorities, brought the perpetrators to justice. Smith would eventually become known as an award-winning curator, particularly for his advocacy of the residential character of New Orleans’ French Quarter. Smith received the highest honors from the Commission du Vieux Carré, the Elizabeth Werlein Medal in 2012 and the Friends of VCPORA, namely the Schwartz-Gage Award in 2011, for her pro bono assistance in preserving the historic integrity and from all over the city. most important district.

In 2015, Smith’s book titled “Crude Justice: How I Fought Big Oil and Won” was published by BenBella Books of Dallas, Texas. Crude Justice is a memoir of Smith’s successful legal career and reflects his extensive experience in jury trials in state and federal courts, where he established a reputation as a pioneer in the field of landfill waste litigation. naturally occurring/technologically enhanced radioactive material (NORM/TERM) oilfields. and obtaining record jury verdicts for its clients. Smith has been interviewed and his cases have been covered by various media including CNN’s Andersen Cooper 360, BBC World News, Fox News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Lawyers Weekly USA, The Times-Picayune, The Baton Rouge Advocate, The Hill, The Associated Press, Bloomberg, National Public Radio, Radio America and Washington Post Radio.

Smith was an avid sailor and member of the New York Yacht Club. A certified PADI Advanced Open Water diver trained by Harold Baquet (Native of New Orleans). In 2013-2014, Smith and his wife participated in and completed the Oyster World Rally. Smith was also an instrument-rated private pilot experienced in operating Cessna piston aircraft and Daher-Socata turboprop aircraft.

Smith had been a generous contributor to municipal, state and national political campaigns for progressive Democratic candidates, Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN), Louisiana Association for Justice, American Association for Justice, Greater New Orleans Foundation, Fellow of the Society of St Ignatius (Loyola University New Orleans), a loyal benefactor of the Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center (Ochsner Medical Center in Jefferson, Louisiana), the Children’s Bureau of New Orleans, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the New Orleans Film Society, the New Orleans Ballet Association, New Orleans Opera Association, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, French Quarter Fest, Southern Rep Theater and other non-profit organizations.

Funeral services will be held at Holy Name of Jesus Church, 6367 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana 70118 on July 7, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. (CST). Donations to owners, residents and associates of Vieux Carré (New Orleans, Louisiana) at https://vcpora.org/donate/ in lieu of flowers.

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