- Partner, Weinberg Wheeler Hudgins Gunn & Dial
- State University of New York at Binghamton, environmental science, 1996
- Vanderbilt University School of Law, 1999
Look at any of the lists for “Best Undergrad Degrees for Future Law Students” and see how far you need to read down before you find Environmental Science.
It’s not a popular path, to be sure, but it has suited Scott Kerew just fine.
“I actually was a teaching assistant for a toxic tort class in undergrad,” he says. “It’s probably what laid the seed about practicing in this area.”
Kerew focuses on toxic tort, medical product liability and catastrophic injury cases at Weinberg Wheeler Hudgins Gunn & Dial. Partner Dave Dial says Kerew has been able to take his expertise in all things medical and successfully apply them to a variety of claims that, given the damages alleged, necessitate intricate and in-depth knowledge of medical etiology.
Out of law school, Kerew first worked on the toxic tort team at King & Spalding. As a young lawyer, he says, it was an excellent opportunity to see mass tort cases up close.
“When I first came to [this firm], they liked the background I had and the path I was on. What I didn’t have was any stand-up experience. I was assigned to partners doing medical negligence work at the time—those cases go to trial at a very high clip. The idea was to make me a more complete lawyer but to continue to utilize my background and the valuable experience I had in the area. Eventually I transitioned back into the larger mass toxic cases, as well. Now, my practice is probably evenly mixed. It’s a nice balance.”
Kerew’s caseload takes him all over the country. “Scott is well-known for his work on toxic exposure cases,” Dial says. “Scott and his team go where they are needed.”
Two years ago, Kerew’s expertise took him to California, where he had an “Erin Brockovich” moment while defending Monterey County against claims by 42 residents alleging illness as a result of their consumption of contaminated well water.
“Being in central California, the Erin Brockovich thought is something that jumped out to us that we knew we needed to address,” Kerew says of the similar California case from nearly 20 years before that inspired an award-winning movie starring Julia Roberts.
“We hit it head-on in voir dire. We acknowledged that the extreme amount of fluoride that was in the water should not have been there. And we told the jurors off the get-go that we wanted them to give a fair amount of money to these people to compensate them for the real injuries they had to their teeth and bones, but that we were going to be challenging them on their claims that virtually every bad medical condition in their lives was because of this exposure.”
That strategic decision took the heat out of the case, Kerew says, and after a week of cross-examining two of their experts, the judge threw out their brain injury claims. The case “ended up settling for less than we were willing to pay years before,” Kerew adds.