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St. Ives Award presented posthumously to Wendell Gauthier, litigator in tobacco settlement

Loyola press release - January 24, 2003

(New Orleans)—Wendell Gauthier, L ’70, was posthumously awarded the ninth annual St. Ives Award, named for the patron saint of lawyers, at the School of Law's Alumni Luncheon on January 10. The award was accepted by Gauthier’s wife, Ann, and daughters Celeste and Cherie. The St. Ives Award is the highest honor from the School of Law Alumni Association and is presented to an alumnus who has volunteered services to the law school or the university, maintained the highest standards of the profession, and furthered the mission of the alumni association.

Gauthier, a nationally-known litigator, died in his home at age 58 on December 11, 2001. He had spent his career helping victims of industrial disasters. During his long career, he faced industrial giants such as Shell Oil, Pan American and Continental Grain. Perhaps his greatest achievement was his battle with the big tobacco companies. He and a team of lawyers succeeded in getting five of the nation’s tobacco companies to agree to pay $206 billion to 48 states by the year 2025. This money will be used to help pay for the expenses of treating people with health problems due to nicotine and the treatment of those wishing to stop smoking due to the addictive nature of nicotine.

While teaching in Orleans Parish schools and working as a driving instructor, Gauthier attended Loyola’s law school. After juggling these jobs, he graduated in 1970 and went into private practice. His firm Gauthier, Downing, LaBarre, Beiser & Dean, was one of five dozen law firms from around the nation who joined forces to battle the tobacco companies. In 2000, he was the recipient of the “Breath of Life” award from the American Lung Association for his legal work.

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