I have a photograph on my desk of Bruce Springsteen, which John took when Springsteen visited the Weisman Museum exhibit about him (curated by John’s sister Colleen). John called me to tell me about a case. As often happened with him, the conversation took several twists and turns, and he said that he had met Springsteen. Although I had never met John, I told him that if he ever wanted to see his name in Minnesota Lawyer again, he’d better let me know the next time he was hanging out with the Boss. John’s reaction was to bring the photo to my office, and promise me a ride in his vintage Cadillac. I never got the ride but I had so many great conversations with John after that, a few at The Local over a pint. His riffs on American history were amazing.
In that case, John won a $35 million verdict for a a factory worker whose skull was crushed between a moving mechanical arm and a conveyor belt on a box-stacking machine. In his closing argument, John said, “May your strength give us strength, may your faith give us faith, may your hope give us hope, may your love bring us love,” from Springsteen’s song, “Into the Fire.”
Minnesota Lawyer named John an Attorney of the Year in 2002 for that case, and at that time he said, ““I think that being a lawyer is a very good thing. That’s why I went into it. Lawyers have to be proud of what they do. It is a privilege to do it.”
He received the AOY again in 2003 after procuring verdicts of $3 million and $11.3 million in the same year. At that time, he said, “I think that the main thing is recognizing that these are really devastating tragedies to these families. It’s my strategy to understand how it affected them and who the person was in the family. You get into these cases involving death [or serious injury] and what you find is that … it affects a lot of people.”
Sheehy’s tragic death will affect a lot of people. Minnesota Lawyer sends condolences to the Sheehy family and to John’s colleagues at Meshbesher and Spence.