Steve Yerrid, a Georgetown law graduate, has been repeatedly acknowledged as one of America’s top trial lawyers. His career accomplishments demonstrate an unwavering commitment to justice and the essential purpose it serves.
In 1980, he received international recognition in one of the world’s largest maritime tragedies. Successfully using an “Act of God” defense, he obtained the complete exoneration of Captain John Lerro, the accused pilot in command of a large bulk freighter when, during a hurricane-like storm, it struck the mammoth Sunshine Skyway Bridge collapsing its center span and killing 35 people.
In the 1990’s, Mr. Yerrid was appointed by the late Governor Lawton Chiles and as the youngest member of an eleven member “Dream Team” of private lawyers, undertook a leading role in Florida’s landmark lawsuit against the previously unbeaten cigarette industry. The case resulted in the biggest monetary settlement in U.S. history, ultimately topping $17 billion. In addition, he and the members of Florida’s “Dream Team,” succeeded in obtaining unprecedented advertising concessions that permanently prevented marketing aimed at children, eliminated cigarette billboards, vending machines, Joe Camel, the Marlboro Man, and established and funded a youth tobacco prevention program subsequently utilized across the United States.
Mr. Yerrid has experienced a career of other noteworthy achievements, including over 300 verdicts and settlements of $1 million or more. Among those was a jury verdict of $217 million, the largest medical malpractice award in Florida’s history, and the nation’s largest verdict in 2006. In 2009, he again obtained the country’s largest verdict rendered in a wrongful death case that year, with a jury award of $330 million.
Additionally, Mr. Yerrid was honored to be appointed as Special Counsel to the Office of the Chief Judge (13th Judicial Circuit) and the Florida Conference of Circuit Judges. Representing Florida’s judiciary, he successfully argued before the Florida Supreme Court and protected state judges and staff from public disclosure of confidential records and internal communications within the court system.
He also served as Special Counsel to the President of The United Way in Washington, D.C. and participated pro bono in a $3 billion worldwide fundraising effort, as well as assisting in the launching of several national and international programs that remain in use today.
In 2010, confronted by one of the largest environmental catastrophes in history, Governor Charlie Crist appointed Mr. Yerrid as Special Counsel regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster and its aftermath. He gave his time, costs, and efforts for nearly a year to the people of Florida as a public service. As a result, The Florida Justice Association presented Mr. Yerrid with the Outstanding Pro Bono Award, a special recognition given only every several years. Subsequently, he was retained by the City of Tampa and settled with British Petroleum (“BP”) in the amount of $27.5 million for the economic damages stemming from the disaster, the largest amount paid to any city by BP.
He is a lifetime member of the prestigious Inner Circle of Advocates, an “invitation only” organization whose membership consists of the top 100 trial lawyers in the United States. Mr. Yerrid is a past recipient of the Perry Nichols Award, bestowed by the Florida Justice Association (FJA) as its highest honor in recognition of a lifelong pursuit of justice; recipient of several FJA Eagle Awards (Talon, Gold, Silver and Crystal); and currently serves as a Distinguished Fellow in the FJA; named Top Lawyer in the Nation by Lawyers USA; in 2013, he received the Excalibur Award for exemplifying leadership and commitment at the highest level of Florida’s civil justice system, and is one of only four Florida trial lawyers to ever receive such an honor; selected by the National Law Journal as one of the top ten litigators in Florida, as well as being included in Law Dragon Hall of Fame, Florida Trend’s Legal Elite Hall of Fame, Super Lawyers, Legal Leaders and Best Lawyers; honored by the American Board of Trial Advocates as Trial Lawyer of the Year (Tampa Bay Chapter)l selected HCBA’s Outstanding Lawyer; in 2016, Mr. Yerrid was voted and inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Trial Lawyers Association, the highest accolade a trial lawyer can receive from that organization.
Steve Yerrid strongly believes the legal profession should always seek to better itself through continuing education . . . a subject he frequently speaks about to groups around Florida and across the nation. In the past, he taught as an adjunct professor at Stetson Law School, and taught for a number of years as a visiting adjunct professor at his alma mater, Georgetown University Law Center.
While deeply absorbed in his legal career and the clients and causes he champions, Mr. Yerrid devotes significant time and personal resources to philanthropic efforts. He serves as Chairman of The Yerrid Foundation, a non-profit organization that is personally funded by him. Since its inception in the 1990’s, Yerrid and the family foundation have supported and donated millions of dollars to a wide array of worthy causes. Both he and his family’s foundation have been repeatedly recognized locally, nationally, and internationally for their charitable works and accomplishments.
Mr. Yerrid has also authored three published books – When Justice Prevails, Winning Ways, and The Making of a Championship Heart.