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Beasley Legacy

The Beasley Firm: A History of Legal Trailblazing

Jim Beasley's Biography Courtroom Cowboy

We are bold and imaginative. We take risks. Our founder taught us how. The late Jim Beasley was the trailblazer, a legendary Philadelphia trial lawyer nationally recognized for having won more million dollar jury verdicts than any other trial lawyer in the country. In tribute, the Temple University Law School now bears his name.

Beasley, who died in 2004 at 78, was known as “the people’s lawyer” because of his history of taking on so many giants on behalf of the little guy. “Philadelphia’s version of the king of torts,” was how former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham described Beasley. “He really perfected — not started, but perfected — the art of tort litigation,” Abraham said.

Beasley won a record $29 million verdict in 1984 against Cessna on behalf of the family of Joe Guanere, an 18-year-old killed in a plane that crashed due to a defective pilot seat. Beasley also won an $8 million verdict in 1984 against the Philadelphia Housing Authority, on behalf of two single mothers who lost a total of six children in a fire at a PHA residence that didn’t have smoke alarms.

Beasley was also nationally known as a libel lawyer who could do the impossible, namely win record verdicts on behalf of public figures. In one year alone — 1990 — Beasley won a $34 million libel verdict against the Philadelphia Inquirer on behalf of former prosecutor Richard A. Sprague, and a $6 million libel verdict, also against the Inquirer, on behalf of state Supreme Court Justice James T. McDermott.

Beasley was so renowned as a libel expert that when one of the Inquirer’s own reporters was libeled by his boss in the Washington Post, the reporter came to Beasley for help. Beasley won a seven-figure settlement.

Jim Beasley holds the record for the highest jury settlement ever in Philadephia, $907 million in 1999 against fugitive murderer Ira Einhorn. Beasley’s pro bono clients were the family of Einhorn’s murder victim, Holly Maddux; the record verdict prevented Einhorn from cashing in on a book or movie deal.

Working with his son, Jim Jr., Jim Beasley Sr. also won a historic $104 million judgment in 2003 in Smith v. Taliban. The case was filed on behalf of the families of two 9/11 victims against Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and the Taliban, as well as Saddam Hussein and Iraq. Smith v. Taliban was the first 9/11 case tried to verdict, and it attracted international headlines.

“He spent most of his 78 years slaying dragons. He was trial lawyer, and damn proud of it, even when it became a term of derision. For 50 years, he reigned as the pre-eminent litigator in all of Pennsylvania. The range of his clients and breath of his cases was unparalleled. . . . Beasley gave a voice to ordinary people who otherwise would never have had the ability to take on large insurance companies and Fortune 500 corporations.

“Size mattered to Beasley: The smaller the aggrieved party, the more apt he was to become their champion. . . . Beasley didn’t care about skin color. He wasn’t interested in your politics. Your station in life was irrelevant. His only interest was the plight of his clients. And for them he was a gunslinger.”

We at the legendary Beasley Law Firm have been privileged to work with, and learn from, this remarkable man, and we have worked hard to advance this legacy. After you look through our site, we hope you agree. Many others may try and claim the Beasley Legacy, but only we have it.