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Not only does Weitz & Luxenberg provide excellent legal services, and obtain settlements and verdict values probably significantly greater than most law firms, but the lawyers here really care about the clients that we represent — blue-collar workers, the men and women who built this country, who went to work every day just trying to earn a living for their families, and many decades later had the misfortune of being diagnosed with a horrible disease. We’re here to represent them and try to right the wrongs that have been done to them.
Jerry Kristal had already spent 10 years fighting for families injured by asbestos when he joined Weitz & Luxenberg in 1997. Today, he is Managing Attorney of the firm’s New Jersey office. Driven since his youth to help children and working families, Mr. Kristal leads a team of attorneys and support people fighting for justice in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and across the Mid-Atlantic region.
Mr. Kristal also serves as senior trial-counsel and is credited with some of the largest asbestos awards and settlements in the U.S.
A highly respected litigator, known for eviscerating opposing arguments and undermining the credibility of seemingly unassailable defense witnesses, Mr. Kristal is also a sought-after speaker on asbestos litigation at legal conferences and seminars.
Mr. Kristal taught both secondary and preschool students in New York City public schools in the 1970s. Alarmed at the poverty and living conditions his students faced, he was inspired to earn both Juris Doctor and Master of Law degrees from the Georgetown University Law Center. After working criminal defense cases early in his legal career, he shifted his practice toward civil cases on behalf of helping working people. That led him to asbestos litigation.
“For the most part, these were blue-collar men who got up and went to work every day to feed the family, house the family, clothe the family, and they got screwed by big companies,” Mr. Kristal said. “So it’s the bigger-picture payback that motivates me.”
That payback has sometimes come in the form of some of largest verdicts ever brought in against U.S. asbestos defendants.
One of Kristal’s memorable victories came in 2013 when his Weitz & Luxenberg team claimed a $35 million verdict in New York for the late Ivo “John” Peraica, who worked for eight years removing asbestos from boilers.
“It was a nice verdict, it was the right verdict, against a company we were trying to make a statement against,” Kristal said.
In June 2014, Mr. Kristal was part of the Weitz & Luxenberg team that won a $25 million verdict for two New York men diagnosed with mesothelioma. Ivan Sweberg and Selwyn Hackshaw had worked around boilers made by Crane Co. that contained asbestos.
Earlier that year, Mr. Kristal’s team won an $11 million verdict against Ford Motor Company, finding the automaker was 49 percent liable for the mesothelioma death of Arthur Juni, Jr. During his 44-year-career, the auto mechanic routinely repaired and replaced brakes made with asbestos parts. The jury determined Ford knew of the dangers, but never warned Juni or others who worked with its products.
A pioneer of asbestos litigation for over three decades, Weitz & Luxenberg devotes the resources to win cases.
“The good thing about Weitz & Luxenberg, from a trial person’s perspective, is that there has never been any pushback on any cost or expense, or any avenue you want to pursue, or any expert you might want to retain,” Mr. Kristal said. “For the trial people, whatever you need, you got it.”
Despite his deserved reputation for toughness in taking on asbestos companies, Mr. Kristal comes across to jurors as a man of great personal warmth, compassion, and genuineness.
Perhaps it comes from the empathy built through years of helping others, the patience learned from teaching preschoolers, and over 30 years of getting to know clients racked by asbestos-related diseases.
“Many lawyers can develop legal skills,” he said. “But I think the most important thing is to have a heart.”
Jerry Kristal will be happy to review your case.