Attorney Willie Gary: "Giant Killer" or Client Killer?
Attorney Willie Gary likes to promote himself as the "famed Willie Gary," someone widely known and honored for his achievements. To many of his former clients, the "infamous Willie Gary" would be more appropriate, someone who is disreputable, immoral and a disgrace to his profession.
Once highly respected, Mr. Gary is becoming more recognized because of his ostentatious, degenerate life-style. His lust for money, fame, power and trysts with women seem to have set the stage for his insatiable greed that has corrupted his life and law practice, victimizing so many of his clients.
Do Willie Gary's Actions Represent Christian Values?
This is quite an introduction for a man who espouses the values of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and who one writer praised in 2009 for attributing all his "great fortune" to his "relationship with God." In 2011, Gary hosted "Praise the Lord," a program on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), the world's largest religious TV network on which Gary periodically appears. In 2013,TBN issued a press release about its special programming commemorating the 50th anniversary of the tragic bombing at Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church that killed four young girls and "marked a major shift in America's historic civil rights struggle." The release listed among the memorable lineup of guests..."noted civil rights attorney Willie Gary."
Gary Law Firm: Scam Artists, Crooks and Thieves
The website of Gary, Williams, Parenti, Watson & Gary, P.L. — GaryLawFirm.org — says: "Trust The Team At The Willie Gary Law Firm." Gary's "Trust Us" slogan is being challenged by many former clients involved in discrimination cases against The William Morris Agency (now William Morris Endeavor), Creative Artists Agency, The Coca-Cola Company, General Motors Company, Ford Motor Company, Visteon Corporation, Microsoft Corporation and others.
Plaintiffs, suing these companies and represented by Gary, describe Gary and his firm as scam artists, crooks and thieves devoid of ethics and integrity. According to the website JusticeB4Greed.com:
Defendant Willie E. Gary settled a legal malpractice lawsuit with 42 women who claimed that Gary stole $51.5 million in a gender bias claim they had against Ford Motor Company and Visteon Corporation. Lead plaintiff, Patricia Hansen, reveals that evidence filed under seal (2, 3 and 4) in this case names Coke and other corporations in which Gary and co-conspirators stole millions from his clients.
Plaintiffs in the Coca-Cola and Microsoft race bias lawsuits allege that Gary and co-conspirator, Weldon Latham [now with Jackson Lewis], who represented the interests of the defendants (Ford, Visteon, Coke and Microsoft) through Holland and Knight ran the same identical scam against them---stealing in excess of $100 million. In each of these cases, none of Gary's clients received a dime.
The 42 women plaintiffs in the Ford/Visteon case filed their Third Amended Complaint (Civil Action No. 03-7330) against Willie E. Gary et al on September 24, 2004 in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan Southern Division. The complaint accused Gary and his law firm on six counts: (1) Legal Malpractice (2) Conversion (3) Breach Of Fiduciary Duty (4) Contract In Contravention Of Public Policy (5) Fraud and (6) Statutory Conversion. One only needs to read the 28-page complaint to understand the magnitude of the crimes Gary and his firm were charged with in this one case. Unfortunately he and his firm have repeated this corrupt behavior time and again against other unsuspecting clients.
Former Gary client and head of Rowe Entertainment, Leonard Rowe, in a March 20, 2014 letter to John Harkness, Florida Bar Executive Director, stated:
Attorney Gary has a pattern and practice of defrauding his own clients out of their settlements to enrich himself. I did a little research and discovered that Mr. Gary has engaged in this same type of fraud and behavior on numerous occasions...
The question that keeps coming to my mind is why attorney Willie Gary is still allowed to practice law. In my opinion, he should have been disbarred and imprisoned years ago for the destruction of lives he has caused. Attorney Gary, in my opinion, is detrimental to the American public and a disgrace to the legal profession.
In a letter dated December 6, 2013 to Frank Digon, counsel for The Florida Bar, Mr. Rowe detailed how Gary defrauded him and other plaintiffs in his case out of millions and even charged them "$20,000 every time he used his personal airplane for travel" without their consent.
On February 10, 2015, former General Motors executive, Jane Newcomb, a 30-year veteran of the corporation, affirmed, "For many former clients, including me, the decision to hire attorney Willie E. Gary has been the mistake of a lifetime."
Marietta Goodman, former Gary client and lead plaintiff in a racial discrimination lawsuit against Coca-Cola, in a letter to The Florida Bar on March 25, 2014 wrote that Gary "is nothing less than a predator that preys on those who have already been victimized and harmed. They place their faith and trust in him for justice. He then abuses that trust to enrich himself...Mr. Gary is nothing short of a criminal."
Why Would Gary Sink So Low?
Why would Gary, who has reaped many multi-million dollar settlements, sink so low? Is it because of his narcissism and egocentric life style fueled by unbridled greed and a sense that he is so rich and politically connected that he can avoid disbarment and prison.
Scrutinizing Mr. Gary's business practices and life style a little more closely will shed more light into his character and why he has become, in many cases, so corrupted and a "client killer."
In her article "Touring the High-Roller Suite of Personal Injury Law, Big Willie Style," published in Above The Law on October 5, 2012, Natasha Lydon wrote:
Everything we never needed to know about Willie E. Gary is conveniently summed up in this video on his website...the video serves mainly as one big bragfest about The Giant Killer's excessive wealth...
After a camera pan of at least six cars that appear to be Rolls-Royces and Bentleys, we learn that Willie Gary has not one, but two private jets--"Wings of Justice I" and "Wings of Justice II." The aircraft which sports an interior renovation that cost more than $11 million, includes an 18-karat gold sink, plush leather seats, a $1.2 million sound system, and a full service kitchen...Gary's law firm has posh offices in a hotel...Gary's home is equally lavish. The 25,000 square foot, $10 million mansion ...boasts the same Versailles-meets - South Beach decor that is splashed all over Gary's office and private plane. No expense was spared in purchasing shiny gold chandeliers.
The Miami Herald in a feature story on Willie Gary entitled "The Giant Killer" on July 30, 2007 reported:
At age 60, Willie Gary still likes striking images... He'll tell you personally he has garages filled with Rolls Royces and Bentleys and a 50-room waterfront mansion "with 14 bathrooms, three kitchens, a movie theater and an elevator."
He sports a diamond-studded Rolex and matching ring, and if you ask, he'll tell you he's wearing a $10,000 Brioni suit...
A sign in his office dubs him The Giant Killer, and at five-foot-eight, even with all the wealth he has amassed, he still regularly tells juries that he's David fighting Goliath. He's won verdicts of $240 million from Disney, $139 million from Anheuser-Busch, $500 million from the Loewen funeral home chain.
In most cases, he works on contingency fees — he gets paid only if the client wins. But earlier this year, he won an extremely unusual decision in Broward County: His case against Motorola ended in a hung jury, but a judge still ordered Motorola to pay Gary and associates $20 million in fees. What particularly outraged Motorola's lawyers was that, in one court document, Gary said his time was worth $11,000 an hour.
"Creditors Suing Willie Gary's Firm For Millions"
The above headline appeared in the South Florida Times on July 28, 2012. The accompanying article by reporter Elgin Jones described how the Gary firm "is facing lawsuits from creditors and an exodus of some of its longtime attorneys." Before the departure of several partners, Gary's firm was known as Gary, Williams, Parenti, Finney, Lewis, Mcmanus, Watson & Sperando, P.C.
Creditors like General Electric Capital and California based LawFinance Group have filed federal lawsuits accusing the firm of "failing to make payments on millions of dollars in loans and lines of credit." According to Thompson Reuters reporter Nate Raymond in an article, "Plaintiff's Lawyer Willie Gary is hunted by creditors" published on July 19, 2012, former Gary law firm partner Manuel Socias sued the firm in Florida state court for failing to pay him $346,000.
Harrison Barnes reported on April 4, 2013, in The Legal Daily News that Gary and his law firm were ordered by federal courts to pay $3.7 million for a loan default on one of his planes and $12.5 million to LawFinance Group.
Poor Willie's Finances Stretched & Character Flaws Abound
On April 4, 2013, in a Tcpalm.com article, "$4.5 Million Worth of Personal Property Seized to Comply with Civil Judgment Against Attorney Willie Gary and His Wife," Keona Gardner reported:
Four marked patrol cars and two moving trucks were parked outside and deputies and movers were inside the $4.4 million waterfront home to seize items to comply with a civil judgment against Gary and his wife, Gloria R. Gary...By Thursday afternoon all property had been returned because the Garys were able to reach a settlement with the bank." According to the Sept. 28 lawsuit Louisiana-based IberiaBank filed against the Garys, the couple owes $3,299,585 for unpaid loans to three connected lots along Indian River Drive in downtown Fort Pierce."
"We been having tough times but it has all been settled," Gary said. "Not one piece of furniture was removed from the home."
Although still married to his childhood sweetheart with whom he fathered four sons, Mr. Gary's "other women problems" also tax his finances, his reputation and his integrity. In 2000, he fathered twins with Olympian hopeful Diana Gowins who was seeking his sponsorship. He was ordered to pay $28,000 a month child support.
On May 16, 2014, RadarOnline.com reported that Gowins is taking Gary to court "over claims he owes her more than $100,000 in child support." Moreover, she claimed that Gary also owes her another $82,907.66 because he is ordered to pay medical and other costs incurred.
Gary filed a response claiming "that he has not paid up because he isn't making enough money."
Mr. Gary is also accused of other womanly transgressions. Former Gary client in a discrimination case against Coca-Cola, Sharron Mangum alleges that on several occasions Gary tried to persuade her to enter into an intimate act with him. She states that after one particular meeting with him, "Willie was all over me--groping and fondling my breasts." If Gary's conduct was not already insulting enough, the idea of him participating in her termination from Coca-Cola and cheating her and other Coca-Cola racial discrimination victims out of settlement awards is "inflaming."
Melissa Holsman in an August 13, 2010 article, "Lawsuit accusing Willie Gary of sexual battery dropped" in TCPalm.com stated:
Nearly three years after an intimate encounter with a former secretary, famed Stuart lawyer Willie Gary and Jillian Nedd agreed to drop a sexual battery lawsuit she filed against Gary and his law firm following allegations in 2007 that he raped her at Stuart hotel room.
Neither side on Friday would confirm if dismissal of the highly contentious lawsuit resulted from a negotiated settlement, or whether the 28-year-old Nedd received any money from Gary, 64, or his Stuart-based firm, Gary, Williams, Finney, Lewis, Watson and Sperando...
The dismissal order, he [Gary's attorney] acknowledged, covers the rape allegations against Gary and a negligence claim against his law firm, which Nedd had accused of knowing about Gary's alleged sexual behavior and neglected to stop him...
Nedd had claimed that for years different women were subjected to Gary's "sexual escapades," and her lawyers argued repeatedly for court approval to depose women known in court papers as "Jane Does" who have accused Gary of sexual misconduct.
Robert Ambrogi reported on July 30, 2008 in Law.com Legal Blog Watch article, "The Willie Gary Sex Tapes" that:
Gary admits having had sex with the woman, but claims it was consensual...in a bid to get the case thrown out, Gary's lawyers filed two videos with the court allegedly showing her having consensual sex with Gary's son Kenneth. The lawyers say the videos were made eight days after the alleged sexual assault and help disprove the woman's claims against Gary... Nedd's lawyer admits she had a relationship with Kenneth Gary but disputes when the videos were made.
Willie Gary Victims Demand Justice: Compensation, Disbarment, Imprisonment
No one should be feeling sympathy for "Poor Willie." Gary and his firm find ways to make lots of money honestly and, unfortunately and too often, dishonestly. Peter Lattman in The Wall Street Journal's LAW BLOG on November 9, 2006 said court filings estimated Gary's net worth at $60 million. CelebrityNetworth.com on July 20, 2013 described Gary as "an American attorney, motivational speaker and businessman who has a net worth of $100 million."
On July 19, 2014, The New York Times reported that the team of attorneys, Willie Gary, Christopher Chestnut and Howard Acosta, won verdicts of $17 million in compensatory damages and $23.6 billion in punitive damages against tobacco giant R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company for the family of a man who died of lung cancer. Although the multi-billion dollar award will be reduced, the final award will assuredly be substantial. According to an MSNBC report, Gary and colleague Chestnut, represent 400 cases in Florida against big tobacco companies.
Among other cases, Reuters reported on June 20, 2012 that, prominent attorney Willie Gary and his legal team filed a "billion dollar lawsuit against NFL for concealing the true consequences of head traumas."
Gary boasts that he is known "for having won more than 150 cases that resulted in multi-million dollar settlements including one that resulted in a $500 million judgment."
But what lies ahead for Willie Gary and others associated with his law firm? Perhaps their biggest test will be how they respond to a relentless, national campaign directed against them. How will they avoid disbarment and imprisonment?
Leonard Rowe best summed up the collective sentiments of Gary's defrauded victims when he told The Florida Bar, "In no way will I ever allow Mr. Gary to defraud me, my family, and countless others out of everything we all have worked for, and he be allowed to just quietly walk away. He can rest assure that I will not stop until he is held accountable for the deplorable and criminal actions against not only his clients, but against humanity as well."