Jerome J. Schlichter
Practice AreasRailroad Injury
Contingent Fee Commercial Litigation
Pension Plan & ERISA Litigation
Toxic & Mass Torts
Jerry is managing partner of the firm. He has been repeatedly elected by his peers for inclusion in "Best Lawyers in America" and is listed again in the 2013 edition. (See inclusion letter here.)
Jerry has been designated legal counsel for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers for many years and is currently designated legal counsel for the United Transportation Union. He has represented railroad workers in trials in many states and has had record-setting jury verdicts in numerous jurisdictions, both in railroad and other personal injury cases. He has obtained a verdict of $27 Million for the widow and children of a St. Louis firefighter against Survivair, Inc. for a defective breathing apparatus which caused the firefighter's death. This $27 Million verdict was the highest jury verdict in Missouri in 2007 and one of the highest in the United States. After the verdict, the amount was increased to a total of $40.4 million due to pre-judgment and post-judgment interest awarded as a result of a pre-filing demand which was not met by the company. The Missouri Court of Appeals, on August 4, 2009, affirmed the judgment of the trial court. The total amount was fully collected in 2010. He has also obtained multiple precedent-setting judgments against railroads, including successfully requiring a railroad and the Federal Railroad Administration to modify its rules on certification of railroad engineers; successfully obtaining a permanent injunction against the Union Pacific Railroad for all of its employees, which stopped the railroad's practice of interfering with employees' ability to pursue injury claims; and obtaining the first and only jury verdict in the United States on which a jury determined that a locomotive was not crashworthy, resulting in a jury verdict of $4.75 Million, which was the highest verdict against that railroad by an injured employee in its history.
In a recent ranking of the 50 most influential people in the 401k industry by 401kWire.com, Jerry was ranked No. 3. This was due to his handling of nationwide class actions on behalf of employees and retirees in large 401k plans alleging excessive fees and conflicts of interest reducing employees’ and retirees’ retirement assets.
In 2010, Jerry obtained a settlement in the amount of $16.5 Million in a national class action on behalf of Caterpillar employees and retirees for excessive fees in their 401(k) plan plus additional changes to the 401(k) plan benefitting employees in the future which the federal district court judge stated had a value of $73 Million and "stands alone in this type of litigation."
Also in 2010, Jerry obtained a $15.15 Million settlement with substantial future improvements in the 401(k) plan for the employees and retirees of General Dynamics which the federal district court judge stated: "... this litigation illustrates and exceptional example of a private attorney general risking large sums of money and investing many thousands of hours for the benefit of employees and retirees."
In 2011, Jerry obtained an $18.5 Million settlement with substantial improvements to the 401(k) plan for the employees and retirees of Bechtel which as described by the AARP foundation was "... truly extraordinary."
Throughout his career, he has also handled major precedent-setting class action and mass tort cases on behalf of individuals. He currently represents employees and retirees of large companies with claims of excessive fees in their retirement plans. An example of his class action work is his representation of a class of African American employment applicants in the case of Mister v. Illinois Central Gulf Railroad, a case in which he obtained an extraordinary Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Decision in which the court stated: "One could not imagine a stronger case of discrimination short of an announcement of it," resulting in a $10 Million settlement. In the Mister case, the U.S. district court judge described his work stating: "The Court is unaware of any comparable achievement of public good by a private lawyer in the face of such obstacles and enormous demand of resources and finances." The judge also stated: "This Court finds that Mr. Schlichter's experience, reputation, and ability are of the highest caliber."
Jerry handled the nationally-recognized Times Beach dioxin case in which he represented a group of people in the community of Times Beach, Missouri who were exposed to dioxin when their streets were sprayed with the chemical. He obtained a record setting $19 Million settlement on behalf of the residents against a chemical company in that case.
Jerry handled a national employment discrimination class action case on behalf of all women employees of Rent-a-Center. In that case, he confronted for the first time in a national employment discrimination class action a "reverse auction" in which the defendant attempted to destroy the case by an inadequate settlement with others. Jerry successfully defeated this attempt and obtained a $47 Million settlement for the class as well as a complete revamping of company policies. This is one of the largest class action settlements for women in the United States and the U.S. district court judge stated: "In essence, it is an example of advocacy at its highest and noblest purpose, and Class Counsel accomplished a great public good." The judge further stated: "I have never seen an effort like that effort put forth by the plaintiffs' counsel' – it's beyond an extraordinary effort."
Jerry is a past national President of the Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates. He has authored articles in the field of personal injury litigation and has spoken at numerous seminars on trial techniques, mass torts, and complex litigation. He has taught trial techniques as an adjunct professor at Washington University School of Law.
Jerry has also been recognized for his involvement in community initiatives. He and his wife founded Mentor St. Louis, Inc., a not-for-profit organization which obtains adult mentors for elementary students in the St. Louis Public Schools, which has become the largest volunteer program in the St. Louis Public Schools and has been nationally recognized. He also successfully initiated and spearheaded the passage of a law, "The Missouri State Historic Tax Credit," which has been widely acknowledged for its role in revitalizing St. Louis and the State of Missouri, and which is the national model for legislation aimed at revitalizing older communities. He has also spearheaded and led the effort to pass the Missouri "Rebuilding Communities Act" designed to attract businesses to distressed communities and the "Neighborhood Preservation Act" to develop owner-occupied housing in distressed communities. Jerry has received numerous awards, such as the Levee Stone Award and "What's Right With the Region Award" for his contributions to revitalization of the city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri.
Jerry spearheaded the founding of another St. Louis not for profit, Arch Grants, which is a nationwide competition for startup businesses in which winning entrepreneurs come to St. Louis, receive $50,000.00 and a broad package of support services including business mentoring, discount on housing and office space, university collaboration, and free legal and accounting services. Arch Grants will provide its first round of 15 grants in June 2012 and has been the subject of many local and national media stories.
Education: University of Illinois, B.S., Business Administration, 1969, (in 3 years) with honors; James Scholar.
University of California at Los Angeles, J.D. 1972; Associate Editor, U.C.L.A., Law Review.
Admitted: California (1972); Illinois (1973); Missouri (1982).