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Ted N. Gianaris serves as the firm’s Special Counsel for Access to Justice. He coordinates the firm’s pro bono efforts in a meaningful way to ensure those who need help most receive it. Through his solo practice, he also litigates cases for marginalized individuals, populations and communities.
“It’s my firm belief that legal justice should be available to everyone,” Ted said. “This is why I became a trial lawyer who helps individuals and families injured by catastrophic personal injuries, and also why I help communities wrecked by environmental disasters.”
Prior to this role, Ted was a shareholder at the firm for 20 years and member of the leadership team. He also served as a leading voice in the formation of the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which he co-chaired until taking on his current role.
Ted is a skilled legal advocate and has secured impressive and continuing results for his clients. He has served as the lead trial attorney in many jury trials. Ted has served as lead trial counsel on countless cases that have cumulatively resolved for hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2005, Ted won a $5.1 million jury verdict against Aerojet for the family of a Missouri woman who had died of mesothelioma in 1999. The deceased, Stephanie Foster was exposed as a toddler when her father brought asbestos dust home on his work clothes.
Ted successfully fought for the rights of more than 600 Bridgeton, Missouri, residents, filing a class action lawsuit after a 2010 subterranean fire at the Bridgeton Sanitary Landfill released noxious fumes into surrounding neighborhoods In April 2014, Ted secured a $6.8 million settlement for members of the class action lawsuit and a guarantee that by accepting the settlement, members would not give up their right to bring future claims against the landfill owners for other types of injuries suffered.
In August 2017, Ted, along with Chairman John Simmons, achieved a $4.48 million settlement for a class of 183 properties polluted by an underground chemical plume of benzene, hexane and other toxic compounds from the nearby Wood River Refinery, which experienced 18 spills in 25 years. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, the lawsuit alleged violations of an anti-dumping ordinance, trespass, public and private nuisance, unjust enrichment and violation of the Illinois Water Pollutant Discharge Act.
Also in February 2018, Ted and co-lead counsel Jo Anna Pollack secured a $4.26 million settlement on behalf of plaintiffs whose homes were polluted by harmful emissions coming from a Granite City, Ill., steel mill owned and operated by United States Steel Corporation (U.S. Steel). For years, the steel mill released into the atmosphere substantial amounts of particles that left a silty deposit on neighbors’ properties and cars and sometimes even got inside their homes. The plaintiffs claimed the defendants negligently failed to capture emissions and failed to store and properly transport the silt.
In addition to these victories, Ted has litigated hundreds of other cases against some of the nation’s largest corporations.
Ted is active in Access to Justice initiatives through legal aid for the poor, serves on the Land of Lincoln legal aid board of directors and is a Special Public Defender going to trial in St. Louis on felony cases. In addition, he organized and spearheaded the firm’s Second Chance Saturday event in 2016 and subsequent years in conjunction with government officials and legal advocacy leaders. The event, currently organized by the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, offers free legal assistance to residents seeking to expunge minor offenses, misdemeanors and other nonviolent crimes from their records in Madison County, Ill.
“Second Chance Saturday has become an important part of our firm’s mission,” Ted said. “People make minor mistakes, but that doesn’t mean those mistakes should keep you from re-entering the workforce and earning a living for your family. Old criminal matters should not keep people from bettering their circumstances. Everyone deserves a second chance, and we are incredibly proud to help provide that.”
Through the program, Ted and firm attorneys have helped erase hundreds of old criminal records.
During his 2020-2021 tenure as co-chair of the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion committee, Ted oversaw initiatives working to ensure Simmons Hanly Conroy fostered a diverse and inclusive environment. In June 2020, the firm donated $10,000 to ArchCity Defenders, a holistic legal advocacy organization that combats the criminalization of poverty and state violence, especially in communities of color, and committed to continued financial support. He also chaired the Access to Justice subcommittee.
For Ted, lasting change is about more than a settlement or verdict, as he demonstrates with his continued pro bono and volunteer efforts. After representing the family of Lauren Peterson in a wrongful death suit against an insurance company when she died in an off-campus apartment fire, he and attorney Tom Long, who represented fellow victim Lacy Siddall’s family, helped produce a fire-safety video that is now distributed to college campuses across the country. It’s just one example of his commitment to carrying through for the better good.
For his public service efforts, Ted was awarded the St. Louis Bar Foundation Spirit of Justice Award in 2016 and the Third Judicial Circuit (Madison County, Illinois) Pro Bono Community Service Award in 2018. The firm was also recognized as Pro Bono Firm of the Year by the Madison County Third Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee, in large part because of Second Chance Saturdays. Ted has an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, for very high to preeminent legal ability, and is an Illinois Super Lawyer.
Ted received his J.D. from the Southern Illinois University School of Law, where he worked in a legal clinic representing coal miners in Federal Black Lung claims. Before law school, Ted drove a beer truck and was a cub reporter for community newspapers.