Rex Carr: champion of victims

Steve Gonzalez Dec. 22, 2004, 7:31am

Personal injury attorney Rex Carr of East St. Louis, renowned champion of victims, is Gordon E. Maag's choice of counsel in a lawsuit which centers around a negative campaign flyer.

In 1981, Carr was listed in the Guiness Book of World Records with a record-setting $9 million jury verdict in Madison County in Green v. Alton Telegraph.

At one point, Carr was listed in the record book three times for his trail blazing verdicts, including the world’s longest civil jury trial. In 1988 a St. Clair County jury awarded $16.2 million to Sturgeon, Mo. residents who sued Monsanto, claiming damages from a dioxin spill.

The Illinois Appellate Court later reversed the verdict stating the Sturgeon residents suffered "no actual damages" and the jury simply "decided to punish Monsanto for wrongful acts occurring from 1949 through several years after the incident in Sturgeon."

Carr, a self-proclaimed liberal Democrat, once told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that "you cannot get any more liberal than me."

Explaining in 2004 why plaintiff's attorneys support Democrats rather than Republicans, Carr told the Post-Dispatch, "We're for the little guy, and against the big guy."

In 2003, Carr left the lawfirm Carr, Korein, Tillery, shortly after the firm's notorious Philip Morris verdict. He said at the time that he left to focus on personal injury cases.

At age 77, Carr is reported to be a fitness buff. He jogs three miles, five times a week in his hometown of Belleville.

Before being appointed to the bench in 1965, Madison County Circuit Court Judge Andy Matoesian worked for a law firm headed by Carr.

According to a report in the Post-Dispatch, an attorney who formerly worked with Carr from 1973 to 1989, Jerome J. Schlichter, said this of him:

"In the courtroom, he's the epitome of the rational man; the jury may not like him in a given case, but he'll often convince them in spite of themselves they must do what he wants. Contrary to what many people expect successful courtroom lawyers to be, he's the antithesis of flamboyance. His tenacity is probably his greatest asset.

"He has no concerns whether people like him. He often has undertaken cases that other lawyers have refused and won them on sheer conviction. On a personal level, he's generous to a fault to underdogs. He's vulnerable to an underdog with a hard-luck story, probably because of his struggle early in life."

Carr, a 1944 graduate of East St. Louis High School, attended Washington University for one year and got his law degree from the University of Illinois.

Chicago Lawyer magazine once called Carr "a fixture of the St. Louis-area trial bar." Carr first gained attention as the attorney for the East St. Louis teachers union in the 1960s and 1970s.

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