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Williams vs. Random House Publishing Co.

Case Conclusion Date: 04.30.1979

Practice Area: Libel and slander

Outcome: Plaintiff verdict, $300,000 damages

Description: This was a civil case back in the 1970's. As a 33 year old sole practitioner, Mr. Sullivan represented Dave Williams, a wide receiver for the San Diego Chargers who was vilified in Arnold J Mandell's book, The Nightmare Season. The book purported to chronicle the San Diego Chargers' 1972 season. In a then-record high award, Mr. Sullivan obtained a verdict of $300,000 for his client, including punitive damages of $50,000 each against publisher Random House and Dr. Mandell, the book's author and the consulting psychiatrist for the team. The defendants were represented by one of the largest law firms in the country. Witnesses included Pro Football Hall of Famers such as then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, NFL head coach Tom Fears and Chargers GM Ron Mix. Interwoven into the fabric of the celebrated case was the soon-to-be infamous Judge James A Malkus who presided over the case. In 1995, Malkus and others, one a colleague of his on the San Diego County bench, were charged, tried and convicted of corruption. Malkus was removed from the bench and disbarred. Mr. Sullivan had been outspoken in the media about Judge Malkus' unfair rulings during the trial and had raised questions about his integrity. It would be many years that would pass before the young lawyer's questionable charges were finally determined to be true and his concerns validated.

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