Blank Rome’s James R. Murray Named 2020 Washington, D.C. Trailblazer by The National Law Journal
Blank Rome Partner James R. Murray, who serves as chair of the Firm’s nationally recognized Insurance Recovery practice group, has been named a 2020 Washington, D.C. Trailblazer by The National Law Journal (“NLJ”), an inaugural regional Trailblazer award series by the NLJ that recognizes Washington, D.C. professionals who are thought leaders and innovators serving as “agents of change” on the practice, policy, and technological advancements of their respective practices and sectors.
Jim’s award continues another banner year of accolades for the Firm’s Insurance Recovery practice group, which was recently honored by The National Law Journal as the 2020 D.C. Insurance Litigation Department of the Year. Benchmark Litigation also honored the group as its 2020 Insurance Firm of the Year, and Law360 named the group one of its 2019 Practice Groups of the Year for the second year in a row.
Below is Jim’s 2020 NLJ Trailblazers honoree profile, also available here. It was formally published by The National Law Journal in its September 2020 Washington, D.C. Trailblazers supplement.
PIONEER SPIRIT. In sexual abuse scandals, James Murray’s clients are the institutions that employed the abusers. But ultimately, Murray works for the victims. Murray negotiates with the institutions’ insurance carriers to obtain the largest possible settlements to compensate victims for their injuries—a function he has performed in cases involving sexual abuse by priests in 18 Catholic dioceses and physicians affiliated with at least two hospitals. Often, insurance settlements stemming from institutional liability are the only source for victim compensation. So Murray often works directly with plaintiffs’ lawyers “because it’s in everybody’s interest to get as much insurance money as we can.”
TRAILS BLAZED. Murray began pursuing insurance settlements early in his career when he helped Boeing recover more than $150 million in damages from its insurance company for the cost of cleaning up Superfund sites it used. His handling of that case led the Archdiocese of Seattle to engage him after an abuse scandal in 2003. He has since recovered more than $500 million for victims of sexual abuse. Along with the church entities, Murray represented a Delaware hospital that faced financial ruin over a pediatrician’s abuse of hundreds of babies and toddlers. After a year and a half of mediation, he secured insurance settlements to cover most of the $123 million paid to victims.
FUTURE EXPLORATIONS. The Delaware case—“the absolute worst,” in Murray’s view—was the first class action involving sexual abuse, but hardly the last. More states are revising their statutes of limitations to allow adults who were victimized as children to sue their abusers and the institutions that employed them. Murray expects a flood of cases to follow. “It’s a depressing topic.” But “for the first time in the history of the world, the spotlight is really on it. That’s one positive thing.”
Reprinted with permission.