It was the Great Depression, and more than anything else, people needed a hand. They just needed to know that somewhere there was someone out there who could help. Maybe it’s fitting that in 1930, Jesse Habush began the practice of law in Milwaukee. At that time, the law was poorly developed and it was difficult for people harmed by the conduct of others to obtain any sort of compensation. Facing that challenge, Jesse began to represent injured workers and persons hurt and killed by the carelessness of others.
THE GROWTH OF THE FIRM
The firm continued after the Depression, through World War II and the Korean War. By that time Jesse Habush had become one of the best attorneys in the state representing injured persons. In 1961 the trajectory of the firm changed when Bob Habush, Jesse’s son, decided to join his father in the practice of law. Bob had graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School with the highest honors and had begun practicing in Chicago when his father needed his help. In the 1960’s Bob Habush began litigating cases in Wisconsin involving the faulty design and manufacture of a variety of products which were causing serious injuries and death; these included automobile design, gas tank design and dozens of consumer products. Bob began to increase the size of the firm, including hiring specialists in engineering and medicine to assist in the more complex cases; all designed to level the playing field when fighting against large corporations with unlimited resources.
In the late 1970’s and during the 1980’s Bob Habush became president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, known then as ATLA, (now AAJ), with its 60,000 members. His contributions to the national practice of law and his success in the State of Wisconsin have been recognized through his receipt of every significant award a trial lawyer could receive, the pinnacle of which was the Leonard Ring Champion of Justice Award – ATLA’s highest honor. He became the model of a successful plaintiff’s trial lawyer who gave back to the community, the law schools and other civic areas of philanthropy.
In 1979 the Madison office became the firm’s first location outside of Milwaukee. Dan Rottier, the current president of the firm, joined at that time and began developing his reputation as a trial lawyer. After the Madison office, the firm began the strategic opening of other offices through the state including Appleton, Green Bay and Wausau. Today the number of offices has grown to 13 locations, each staffed by the very best personal injury attorneys in the state.
Throughout the 1990’s Bob continued his success leading the firm, adding the state’s most talented lawyers to the various local offices. Each attorney Bob hired was known throughout the state and had already achieved success by the time they joined the firm. Meanwhile in Madison, Dan Rottier was establishing himself as one of the most successful trial lawyers in Wisconsin. In the early 1990’s he became the youngest member ever invited to join the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. In 2011, Bob handed the reins of the firm over to Dan, while Bob’s continued counsel and guidance remained over the next several years.
THree RECORD SETTING CASES
In the late 1990’s, the firm was chosen by a Republican governor and Democratic attorney general to be the lead law firm to prosecute the State of Wisconsin’s claims arising from the conduct of big tobacco. Individuals had been trying to sue the tobacco companies for decades, but none had been successful. For three years the case was prosecuted until a master settlement in the billions of dollars was obtained on behalf of the citizens of Wisconsin. This effort remains to this date as the most significant lawsuit ever filed and prosecuted in Wisconsin.
In 1999 three men were tragically killed during the construction of Milwaukee’s Miller Park. Bob and the firm prosecuted that case to a successful verdict for $99 million against Mitsubishi, the company responsible for constructing the stadium’s retractable roof. If you ever visit Miller Park, please visit the statue of three iron workers, a monument to the safety of workers everywhere.
On July 31st 2015, Edward Vanderventer was rear-ended while driving a 2013 Hyundai Elantra. Mr. Vanderventer suffered significant injuries, including a spinal fracture and paraplegia. On behalf of the Mr. Vanderventer and his wife, Attorney Timonthy Trecek made the case that a defect within the front seat headrest and seatback caused Mr. Vanderventer’s horrific injuries, and that absent the defect, Mr. Vanderventer would have walked away from the accident. Instead, he will never walk again. Hyundai denied liability and argued that the injuries were a result of the collision and/or a degenerative spine condition known as diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH). During the 18-day trial in February 2020, jurors heard testimony from over 25 witnesses, including seat design and medical experts. In valuing the Vanderventers’ damages at $38.1 million, the jury found that Hyundai’s defective seat design was 84% responsible for causing Mr. Vanderventer’s injuries. This is the largest single plaintiff verdict in the history of the State of Wisconsin.
THE LAWYERS — FIGHTING FOR WHAT IS RIGHT
The lawyers of Habush Habush & Rottier, S.C. ® have achieved high honors and recognition by the most significant organizations in the country. Our attorneys are invited members of the Inner Circle of Advocates, the International Association of Trial Lawyers, The American College of Trial Attorneys, International Society of Barristers, and The American Board of Trial Advocates. Each member of the firm, young and old, has been recognized as being of the highest quality and ethics. Our lawyers have taught at the law schools and lead state and county bar organizations throughout the state.
But by far the awards that are most important to our firm are the monetary awards we have achieved for our clients. In the past 88+ years, this amount totals well into the billions – probably more than all the other personal injury firms in the state combined. Our 35 lawyers have chosen to use their skills to represent individuals, not corporations and insurance companies — the underdogs in the fight for justice. We have the talent and resources to create a more level playing field when pitted against the largest corporations in the world. What began during the Great Depression, and has persevered through wars and hard times and good times, still holds true today: At Habush Habush & Rottier, we fight for what’s right.