Assuming the Risk:

The Mavericks, the Lawyers, and the Whistle-Blowers Who Beat Big Tobacco

A washed-up actor-turned-paralegal steals a cache of internal tobacco company documents. An unreconstructed Southerner, who once burned a cross in a neighbor’s yard, takes a poor black man’s case against a cigarette maker to court, prays at his bedside, and weeps at his grave. A navy pilot who was nearly ordered to drop nuclear weapons on Prague returns to become a millionaire asbestos attorney. A rock-and-roll-singing, twenty-seven-year-old district attorney brings down one of the most powerful political figures in Mississippi and goes on to become the state’s attorney general.

About the Author


  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (September 7, 1999)


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It may seem paradoxical to most that for trial lawyers are not afraid to lose a case. Every trial is a learning experience. You learn about your opponent; you learn about yourself. You try a losing case over and over in your head at night. You learn from your mistakes. You learn from the opposing lawyer. You become obsessed and through it all you learn how to win.
This is the true story of some country lawyers in Mississippi who launched a holy war against Big Tobacco. They were unlikely Davids battling a Goliath.
The country lawyers looked like easy pickings to the big firm lawyers from the big cities. The silk stocking crowd would bury them in paper, bankrupt them in endless discovery, and outdazzle them in court, if the bumpkins ever got that far. These champions of nicotine had never lost a case. The clients had never paid one dime to any tobacco victim. They were the chosen ones, selected to keep the streak alive, to bring home the scalps of the piteous Mississippi lawyers.
Trial lawyers know that a lawyer who has never lost a case has never tried a case. Undeterred by the myth of invincibility of the tobacco industry these dreamers were able to use the industry’s incredible arrogance on itself to bring it to its knees. In short, the truth got out, and the rest is history.
If you are a law student or a young lawyer thinking about trying cases for a living, read this book. This is how its done and how you can sleep at night.


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