Asbestos defense attorney called to serve in Iraq
An Edwardsville attorney who defends clients in asbestos and other toxic tort claims is trading his shirt and tie for a different uniform.
United States Naval Reserve Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Graham, who is employed of counsel at Heyl Royster Voelker & Allen, was recalled to active duty and will soon serve on the front lines in Iraq.
Graham, 53, said he will leave next week for four weeks of training and certification before being deployed to northern Iraq at the Balad Airbase, approximately 68 kilometers north of Baghdad.
Balad is one of the largest airbases in Iraq. It occupies a 25 square kilometer site and is protected by a 20 kilometer security perimeter.
This will be Graham's second deployment to the Middle East.
In 2002, he was activated and served in the Middle East from December 2002 through June 2003.
A native of South Carolina, Graham served in the Navy from 1974-78 and joined the reserves in 1984. He served nine years as an enlisted seaman before receiving his commission as an officer.
He said he joined the Navy over other branches because he wanted to travel, wanted a change of scenery and wanted a change of circumstances.
After he completed law school, a sense of duty and his love of golf prompted him to join the reserves.
"I kept asking my recruiter how much money I would get for joining and he would avoid answering my question," Graham said.
Eventually he was told that he would be compensated $160 a month. Graham thought that would be perfect since that would pay for at least five green fees.
In this deployment, Graham will be involved in logistics, serving as a senior forward supply officer.
His job will be to ensure that troops have materials they need "when they need them," and that he will also be responsible for tracking those materials.
Graham said once he gets into his "battle rhythm" he will decide whether to have his wife send his sand wedge and putter to him.
Married 32 years, Graham met his wife, Shirley, while he was active duty at Pearl Harbor. They have two children, a son currently in law school and a daughter who is a freshman in college.
They reside in St. Charles County, Mo.
Graham joined Heyl Royster in 2001. Prior to his employment there, he was in private practice concentrating on family law, civil litigation, probate, criminal defense, and bankruptcy matters.
He now focuses his practice in the defense of asbestos and toxic tort claims arising from occupational and environmental exposures including product liability and premises liability claims.
Randy Gori of Goldenberg Heller Antognoli Rowland Short & Gori in Edwardsville said he will miss Graham while he serves overseas.
Even though Gori, an asbestos plaintiff attorney, and Graham often oppose each other on cases, Gori is throwing a going away party for Graham at a downtown Edwardsville restaurant.
"Tim is always professional and courteous when we deal with each other," Gori said. "Yet he remains a strong advocate for his clients."
"I am glad that Tim is serving our country," Gori added.
Another asbestos plaintiff attorney who often opposes Graham, John Barnerd of SimmonsCooper in East Alton, said he was honored to call Graham a friend.
"Many times we are dealing with people who are sick and dying from mesothelioma," Barnerd said. "During depositions he always treats my clients with a great amount of professionalism and respect."
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