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Renowned plaintiffs lawyer Vasilios Choulos died Monday night from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 75. Choulos, a former partner of Melvin Belli, opened his own firm, Choulos, Choulos & Wyle, in 1981 with his son, George, and Claude Wyle. Throughout his career Choulos represented many celebrities, including the Rolling Stones, author Alex Haley, and 1960s counterculture figures Timothy Leary, Abby Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. But in the last 20 years, he focused exclusively on plaintiffs work. “He only helped the little guy,” Wyle said. “He was incredibly inclusive, always inviting people along to whatever he was doing.” Choulos’ house in Mill Valley was always filled with visitors and people seeking his advice, Wyle added. “His kitchen table was a strategy center.” It was at that table that Choulos and his colleagues planned a rescue mission for a man imprisoned in Mexico. Choulos hired a mercenary who flew a helicopter from California onto the prison’s exercise yard where he picked up the prisoner. The adventure was made into a movie, “Breakout,” starring Charles Bronson. Among his other cases, Choulos sued Lockheed Corp. on behalf of the surviving families of pilots who crashed flying Lockheed’s supersonic fighter jets. Wyle, who grew up with Choulos’ son George, said that as a kid Choulos told him to go to law school and he’d hire him. “He brought anyone who expressed any desire in going to law school under his wing,” Wyle said. “He made up jobs for people.” Choulos graduated from Hastings College of the Law in 1953. He worked for criminal lawyer George Walker before joining Belli in the mid-1950s. He is survived by his wife, Laura; sons George, Alexander, Stephan and James, and daughter Anastasia. A viewing will be held at Evergreen Mortuary, 4545 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, and a service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Cathedral of the Annunciation, 245 Valencia St.

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