Baddest CEO in the
Whole Damn Town*

John Dillon, Chairman of The Business Roundtable (a consortium of the CEOs of America's largest corporations) doesn't let anyone stop him from exercising his legal right as International Paper Company's (IP) CEO to sue insurance companies that cheat his corporation, depriving him of "wearing his diamond ring in front of everybody's nose."

"IP's corporate lawyers initiated a study this past summer to explore the psychology of jurors, focusing on the role of race and gender. They hope the findings will help them do a better job of picking juries…" (Source: Forbes, October 14, 2002, p.52)

Legal Hustler History

In the fall of 2001, International Paper sued Employers Insurance Company of Wausau in California Superior Court in San Francisco. IP demanded $13 million in disputed insurance coverage plus punitive damages.

Thomas Nolan, IP's outside counsel, devised a morally repugnant strategy that elicited sympathy for IP by

"…drawing a parallel--subtly-between them [his IP clients] and the World Trade Center 9/11 victims…

A traditional plaintiff's theme is that all society can ask of a company is that it do the right thing. Nolan says he stressed that, keying into the judge's speech to the jurors to the effect that while we all can't be New York fire fighters and policemen, we can be patriots by fulfilling the roles we are given…

'I told the jury that the insurers sat on the sidelines, watching people in trouble, and not rushing into help when they could have--when they should have.'" (Source: National Law Journal, October 2, 2002.

This hired legal gun's manipulative tactic (playing on the jury's sympathy for the anguish of the 9/11 families) resulted in $13 million damages + $12 million for lawyers' fees + $68 million in punitive damages:


After the verdict, Peter Lieb, IP's Associate General Counsel, interrupted CEO Dillon's meeting with three executive VPs. Mr. Lieb noted their smug expression of corporate pleasure and sense of entitlement:

"We told them the result, and there was a brief pause, as if they were sort of taking it in. Then they erupted into applause." (Corporate Counsel, October 2002, p.90)

Remember CEO Dillon (and his Business Roundtable buddies) every time an HMO, a CEO, a politician or a pompous talking head tells you that plain folks shouldn't have the right to sue their insurance companies or have the right to public jury trials.

*Thanks, Jim Croce