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NAME AND TITLE: Vicki A. O’Meara, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary AGE: 45 RYDER AND TERRORISM: Like the U.S. government, corporate America reinforced its security precautions after the Sept. 11 attacks. Vicki O’Meara, GC of Ryder System Inc., said that her company was already in a heightened state of alert. “We have an unfortunate history with security issues,” O’Meara said, alluding to the Ryder trucks involved in the 1993 World Trade Center and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings. (In 1996, Ryder sold to Questor Partners its “yellow truck” consumer business, which had rented the vehicles used in those attacks.) The company has instituted extensive security procedures for its commercial-vehicle rental business — double-checking customers’ identification, driver’s licenses and driving and credit histories. The company has also tightened its background checks of job applicants. After 9/11, Ryder shared its experience with the rest of the trucking industry, said O’Meara, who represents her company in industry groups that are reviewing counterterrorism practices. “It’s important to follow responsible practices, but, at the same time, not get carried away thinking we can control everything about our vehicles,” said O’Meara. She demurred on discussing details of post-9/11 security measures. THE COMPANY: Miami-based Ryder has 160,000 trucks, tractors and other vehicles, which it leases to businesses throughout the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia and Europe. The 30,000-employee firm also offers warehousing, transportation and other logistics services. The publicly traded company reported $5 billion in revenue in 2001. THE DEPARTMENT: O’Meara oversees 20 lawyers, all in the Miami area, except for one in Atlanta and two in the United Kingdom. The former Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency official also runs Ryder’s eight-member environmental department and coordinates its government relations function. “Ryder is a contract-based business,” O’Meara says. “We sell contracts for equipment and services, and [the legal unit] produces the documents that convey every one of our products.” The lawyers on O’Meara’s operations team are responsible for drafting these contracts, and keeping the boilerplate current with the law. The corporate affairs/transaction team handles finance, real estate and corporate governance. Employment law and labor relations for Ryder’s partially unionized work force are the job of the human resources team. Nearly all lawsuits are referred to outside counsel, whose work is overseen by the litigation team. Insurance carriers handle the defense of fender-bender and personal injury cases, with O’Meara approving settlements of more than $25,000. LITIGATION: Ryder’s in-house counsel work closely with outside litigation firms in analyzing cases and developing strategies, said O’Meara. In 1997, soon after O’Meara came aboard, Ryder was hit with a $21 million breach-of-contract lawsuit by OfficeMax, alleging that Ryder could not perform the promised transportation services. O’Meara fired back with a $75 million counterclaim, alleging that OfficeMax filed its suit to support some creative accounting in its financial statements. The litigation settled in October 2000, with OfficeMax agreeing to pay Ryder $5.1 million. “We felt OfficeMax had been unfair and manipulative in how they used our contract. It was important to stand up and fight for our rights,” O’Meara said. Ryder is currently wrestling in court with a truck rental rival. In 1998, Budget Group Inc. acquired Ryder’s former “yellow truck” consumer rental business from Questor Partners, and with it a Ryder trademark license. In March 2002 Ryder terminated Budget’s license, and sued in federal court in New York to stop the financially ailing company from using the “Ryder TRS” name. Budget almost immediately agreed to discontinue certain advertising, and litigation has been stayed since July, when Budget filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition. O’Meara said that she expects the case to be resolved soon. ENRON IMPACT: Like other large public companies, Ryder had to comply with the new federal financial reporting requirements. Ryder identified the 18 senior executives, including O’Meara, who are responsible for various parts of the company’s financial reports. The law department then drafted internal certifications so that these officials could attest to accuracy of their numbers. Following passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which expanded the certification requirements, O’Meara said her staff revised the internal certifications to address the new statutory standards, and collected new signatures from all 18 executives. Ryder filed its certifications on Aug. 7, a week before the deadline. OUTSIDE COUNSEL: O’Meara relies on several law firms for corporate and litigation counsel: Holland & Knight, Hunton & Williams, Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, and New York’s Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. She also turns to Miami’s Steel Hector & Davis and Greenberg Traurig for corporate work, and to Robertson Freilich Bruno & Cohen of Newark, N.J., for litigation. New York’s Proskauer Rose and Epstein Becker & Green, San Francisco’s Littler Mendelson and Chicago’s Seyfarth Shaw handle labor and employment matters. DRIVING TO THE TOP: The Minnesota native graduated from Cornell University in 1979 with a B.A. in political science, and received her J.D. in 1982 from Northwestern University Law School, where she was executive editor of the law review. She also has a master’s degree in environmental science and resource policy from George Washington University. After law school, O’Meara worked in the general counsel’s office of the U.S. Army, where she defended the Army Corps of Engineers’ administration of the Clean Water Act’s wetlands program. In what she now recalls as a legal “baptism by fire,” O’Meara successfully defended the Reagan administration’s rollback of wetlands regulations in a lawsuit brought by a dozen environmental organizations and joined by a coalition of industry groups. After being selected as a 1986-87 White House Fellow, O’Meara remained in the legal hot seat, having barely settled into the White House Counsel’s Office when the Iran-Contra scandal broke. O’Meara became the administration’s resident expert on congressional strictures on military aid to the Nicaraguan contras. She concluded that the so-called Boland Amendment, which supposedly barred such funding, was never formally enacted as federal legislation. After a stint as the EPA’s deputy general counsel in 1987, O’Meara joined Jones Day in its Chicago office, where she became a partner in 1990 and established the office’s environmental practice. In 1992, she returned to D.C. to serve in the last year of the first Bush administration as head of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. O’Meara returned to Jones Day in 1993 to chair the firm’s environmental practice, overseeing 50 lawyers in the United States and Europe. She joined Ryder as general counsel in June 1997. FAMILY: O’Meara has homes in Miami and the Florida Keys, where her husband, Dale Gassaway, is a charter fishing boat captain. They are raising three boys — Nick, 9, and Joe, 12, from O’Meara’s previous marriage; and her husband’s son, Blake, 15. LAST BOOK READ: “The Wonder of Boys,” by Michael Gurian.

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