Wednesday, September 27, 2006
John Coale, Biography
John P. Coale has long been a crusader for private citizens adversely affected by the negligence of large corporations, and a leading advocate of social and institutional reform through the court system. John was profiled on CBS's "60 Minutes" by Ed Bradley, who described John P. Coale as "at the top of his field . . ." His work has been showcased in a number of books, magazines and newspapers, including The National Law Journal, GQ, People Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. John was named a life member in the National Registry of Who's Who and was listed in Who's Who in Executives and Professionals.
John P. Coale entered the ranks of the nation's top tort lawyers in 1984, when he took on Union Carbide on behalf of thousands of victims of the tragic gas leak in Bhopal, India. As Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT) stated on the floor of the United States Senate, John Coale is "one of the leading plaintiffs' lawyers in the country," and referred to him as "a person who has pursued to the full limits of the law virtually every plaintiffs' litigation that has taken place over the last 25 years." (Congressional Record, May 21, 1998, S5267) John's resume is a testament to his dedication to the rights of tort victims and his quest for corporate accountability. In the Imperial Foods Chicken Plant fire, where the owner of the processing facility locked the emergency exit doors, John Coale not only obtained millions of dollars for his clients but, more importantly, was instrumental in getting Congress to hold hearings concerning plant safety. At the hearings, many of John's clients testified to the horrors they experienced locked inside a dark building surrounded by smoke and fire, and to the unsanitary and unsafe working conditions that led up to that fateful day. As a result of the hearings, Congress made significant changes to the OSHA enforcement framework. John also successfully pressed for the criminal prosecution of the plant owner, who ultimately pled guilty to multiple counts of manslaughter. Most notable among John Coale's accomplishments is the role he played in obtaining billions of dollars in payments from the tobacco companies to the states and forcing a major change in the way tobacco companies do business. As a member of the Executive Committee for the Castano Tobacco Litigation, John was part of a pioneering effort to hold the tobacco companies responsible for misleading the public about the dangers of cigarettes and nicotine addiction. John Coale was one of the principal negotiators in the $386 billion dollar tobacco settlement reached in June of 1997, which ultimately led the tobacco companies to agree to pay billions of dollars to the states and to reform their advertising and marketing practices. John has also taken on the handgun industry and, through litigation, has focused public awareness on the role of the gun industry in promoting violence in America's cities.
Not afraid to take on the government when justice demands it, John P. Coale sought and achieved institutional reform in Maryland's juvenile justice system by working pro bono on behalf of youth offenders who had been sentenced to Maryland's controversial "boot camps." John and his colleagues obtained a settlement that included educational benefits and, more importantly, implemented permanent changes to the system. As a result of these efforts, hundreds of disadvantaged youths have been given an opportunity to obtain higher education and job skills training for free; moreover, the state has established a full time monitor to oversee conditions in juvenile detention facilities and ensure the just treatment of children housed there. An active supporter of the Democratic Party and its causes, John Coale worked closely with the Clinton administration on the issues of tobacco control and reformation of gun laws. John is also a staunch supporter of women's rights and equality, something that has earned him a position on the editorial board for Ms. Magazine; John is the only male ever to have served in this capacity. John is married to his former law partner, Greta Van Susteren, who is the host of the Fox News program On the Record with Greta Van Susteren. John and Greta have played host to a wide variety of celebrities and political figures, including Ozzie and Sharon Osbourne, who accompanied them to the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner, and Queen Noor of Jordan, who dined at their home while visiting Washington, D.C. Avid boaters, John and Greta have held Democratic fundraisers and other social events on their Trumpy yacht, the SS Sophie.