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Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold founder Ernest “Bud” Arnold died Wednesday after a yearlong bout with lymphoma. He was 90. Arnold was the last remaining name partner of the firm, which was established in its present form in 1959 and specializes in product liability litigation. The firm has grown to 340 lawyers, and last year Sedgwick grossed a record $136.5 million, landing it among the 10 highest-grossing firms in the Bay Area for the first time. Kevin Dunne, Sedgwick chairman, said Arnold’s passing has given him and some of his partners a chance to reflect on the foundation laid by the firm’s founders. A group of about 10 gathered Wednesday with Arnold’s wife, Dee, to reminisce, he said. “It has been an opportunity for us to celebrate the people who gave us our original culture and values,” Dunne said. “We wish we had more partners like him.” Calling him a “very strict taskmaster,” Dunne said Arnold was a prime example of the signature characteristics of the World War II generation: a strong work ethic and modesty. “He’s the backbone-of-the-country type of person,” Dunne said of Arnold. “He served his country, but never bragged about it, and he tried hundreds of cases, but never bragged about it.” Arnold, he said, was demanding and held his underlings to a high standard, but young lawyers were lucky to work under him. “Up through the time people were junior partners, you would get called into his office and you’d pull up a chair next to him,” Dunne said. “It was an honor to be on cases with him and to have the benefit of his rigorous review of your files.” Arnold graduated from the University of Nebraska College of Law at Lincoln in 1937, then struck out for California. He went to work under Wallace Sedgwick, who at the time was head of claims at the General Accident Insurance Co. In 1942, Arnold joined the U.S. Navy and served four years during World War II as an intelligence officer. His service took him behind enemy lines in central China, where he delivered documents to Allied forces. After his stint in the military, Arnold again teamed up with Sedgwick at the firm, then called Keith, Creede & Sedgwick. In 1959, the firm adopted its current name. Arnold represented the last of the founders. Sedgwick died in 1982, Edward Moran died in 1975, and Gunther Detert in 1994. Arnold was managing partner of the firm for several years, beginning in the late 1960s. Though he retired in 1988, he continued to visit the firm regularly and maintained an office at the time of his death, Dunne said. A private service is planned. The family has asked that donations be sent to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in lieu of flowers.

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