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LeRoy Hersh, a longtime San Francisco plaintiffs attorney and a former president of two prominent lawyer associations, died of prostate cancer Tuesday. He was 83. During his 48-year career practicing law, Hersh played a pioneering role representing consumers in defective product cases, taking on drug companies and breast implant manufacturers. In 1994, he won a $42 million verdict for 11 women against the makers of DES, an anti-miscarriage drug that was taken off the market. Hersh was involved early on in litigation involving silicone breast implants and served on the steering committee for the silicone breast implant multi-district litigation. “He was very passionate about consumer rights and opposed to the extravagances and greed of big corporations,” said daughter Nancy Hersh, who founded Hersh & Hersh with her father in 1971. She said father was especially proud of representing homemakers, whose cases many attorneys considered to be of little monetary worth. Born and raised in San Francisco, Hersh took up the law after serving in the Navy during World War II. He attended San Francisco Law School at night while managing a department store during the day. After working as a solo general practice attorney for several years, he teamed up with his daughter and founded the Hersh & Hersh firm, which now counts 10 attorneys. The pair tried many cases together, said Nancy Hersh. “Working with him was always wonderful,” she said. “We could read each other’s mind.” Hersh served stints as president of the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association and the Consumer Attorneys of California (then called the California Trial Lawyers Association). He also sat on the board of governors of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America between 1977 and 1980. In 2001 the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association presented Hersh with a lifetime achievement award. “There aren’t that many people that you would consider to be stalwarts of a legal community; people who are there year after year, actively participating in the trial bar,” said Robert Cartwright Jr., the past president of CAOC. “He will definitely be missed in the community.” Hersh is survived by his wife, Kay Holley, and daughters Nancy, Jill and Linda. A funeral for Hersh will be noon Sunday at San Francisco’s Sherith Israel synagogue.

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