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Longtime Oakland plaintiff attorney and World War II medal recipient Edward Digardi died Saturday after a long battle with cancer. He was 86. A longtime partner in the firm Digardi & Campbell, Digardi was born in Oakland in 1919 to restaurateur and Martinez winery owner Joseph Digardi and his wife, Anna. As a U.S. Navy officer and navigator, Digardi survived the sinking of his destroyer in 1944 and spent three days in shark infested waters before being rescued. Many of the men he served with perished, his son, Brian Digardi, said. “That day, he thought he was a dead man,” he said. “From that day on, he figured it was free time.” A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and Hastings College of the Law, Digardi was regarded as an international authority on aviation law, his family said. He also made his mark as a prodigious and determined plaintiff attorney. Oakland attorney Gary Gwilliam of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer said Digardi, a former partner, tried about 400 cases over a career that spanned half a century. “Ed was a fighter,” Gwilliam said. “He was never afraid to go to court when he felt his client was right, and he was never a guy who settled a case cheap or forgot about a client.” During the 1970s, Digardi was one of two lead attorneys representing residents of Isleton, who successfully sued for millions of dollars in damages after delta levees broke and flooded their homes, Gwilliam said. Friends and colleagues were aware Digardi had been battling cancer for 22 years. “He would just not give up,” Gwilliam said. “He treated his disease like he did his trials.” Digardi is survived by his wife of 63 years, Louise, two sons, a daughter and a sister and brother. At Digardi’s request, no services will be held and his body will be cremated.

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