My Toughest Case:
Defending Trapped Divers
“I essentially grew up here,” says Brian Katz, speaking about his firm, Herman, Herman & Katz, LLC, which was founded in 1941. “Over the years I think I’ve held essentially every job you could hold except for paralegal. I’ve done everything from getting the coffee and sorting the mail, to filling potholes in the yard, to investigative work.”
Katz’s father, Morton, was the original Katz in the firm’s name. Since resigning as a partner in 2011, Brian now fills the role. He became a partner in ’07.
“My dad taught me everything about how to practice law,” he says. “From the day-to-day business of communicating with clients, to how to deal with opposing council, how to try a case and how to negotiate a settlement.”
Katz has been putting the skills he learned from his father to work from the moment he left law school.
“My first case was the 1996 Brightfield accident at the Riverwalk. My firm was one of several lead counsels. We represented those that were out of work due to the accident and those that owned businesses that were affected. I went all the way to Hong Kong to take depositions. That case involved hundreds of clients and took up the first five or six years of my practice.”
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Katz was again inundated with work.
“After Katrina we took on thousands of cases of individuals and businesses that were fighting insurance companies to receive what was owed to them for repairs and lost income. I think I finally tried my last Katrina trial last year.”
Katz says that cases like these, where there’s no dispute as to the damages, are particularly meaningful and rewarding for him.
“Sometimes it can be tough with the more ‘he said, she said’ kinds of situations. But with something like this it was clear – these people needed to be compensated.”
But while the Katrina trials may have spanned years, nothing, he says compared with what he considers one of his toughest cases.
“I’d have to say one of my toughest was a maritime case where we represented some divers that were trapped in an offshore vessel that had sunk during a hurricane,” he says. “For 24 hours they fought for their lives before being rescued, even as they watched some of their coworkers perish.”
The case took 15 years to resolve.
“That case went through the Louisiana court of appeals, and eventually to the U.S. Supreme Court,” he says. “We really had to fight for those guys.”
18 years in practice
B.A. from University of Alabama – 1991
J.D. from Tulane University – 1996
Native of New Orleans
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