Myron Shapiro: Reflections Of 40 Years As A Trial Lawyer

05.18.15 | Permalink

A partner in the Miami Office of Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell, Myron Shapiro has built his practice of nearly 40 years in product liability defending American, Japanese and European automobile and truck manufacturers in catastrophic personal injury cases and class actions. He also represents off-road industrial vehicle/material handling equipment manufacturers. Myron discusses his approach to these difficult cases, his drive to enhance the legal profession and his passion for making a difference in his community.

Working on these difficult cases requires relentless tenacity and an exhaustive understanding of the product. In these cases, there is typically natural bias and sympathy for the plaintiff. “My philosophy has always been that although the law doesn’t require the defendant to prove the product is not defective, it is imperative that the defense undertake that burden. If the defense cannot prove the benefits of the product’s design and engineering, then the sympathy factor will prevail resulting in a plaintiff’s verdict. It’s very easy to taint a product as being defective, but it’s entirely different to prove a defect,” advised Myron.

Representing clients in the automotive industry since 1972 has offered Myron an in-depth perspective and knowledge of the automobile industry. “My determination, coupled with a thorough understanding of the product, allows me to simplify the core issues and fully analyze how the injuries in the case are purportedly related to the design of the product,” he advises. “I don’t have an engineering background, so I learned from a lawyer’s perspective how to extol the virtues of the product.” Myron explained that is important to never lose sight that while a single component is alleged as being defective, explaining the details of its design, manufacture and integration into the product as a whole, is essential.  

One of the biggest challenges faced in these cases is the crashworthiness doctrine where automakers have a duty to design vehicles to provide safety to the occupants of the motor vehicle in order to avoid enhanced injuries beyond what would have occurred in the crash itself.  “Cases of this nature require an understanding of not only manufacturing design, but also impact tolerances, the human anatomy and the precise mechanism of injury,” said Myron. 

Automobiles today are distant relatives of the automobiles that existed 40-50 years ago. Today’s vehicles are far more advanced, incorporating many technological innovations that have had a direct safety benefit on the passengers. The safety systems in today’s vehicles all work in concert to protect the passenger as much as possible during a crash. “My job is to take all of the technological advances, explain them in very simple, basic terms, so the jury can understand design engineering concepts and be able to analyze how a client’s product design was more than adequate, met standards and performed exceedingly well in a given crash situation.”

Whether he’s working with automobiles, trucks, heavy equipment or even elevators, Myron has found success in applying his knowledge of the law from one industry to another. Regardless of the industry, he is able to use his skills as a trial lawyer to defend cases that often involve catastrophic irreversible injuries in front of juries. “My success comes from working hard and driving myself. What I demand of myself is greater than any client asks of me.”

“I’ve always been impressed with the quality of attorneys and work of RKC.” Myron worked for a number of years in New York at a firm that served as U.S. Counsel for Volkswagen and Audi. His role at that firm required him to travel the country assisting local counsel. “In this role, I was never lead trial counsel—always 2nd Chair, which truthfully did not suit my personality,” he advised. “When there was a case in Florida, the firm would retain RKC for local counsel and that is how I discovered and became impressed with the firm.” It was after Myron’s first visit to Florida—a trial in Daytona Beach--that he decided to put down roots and move to Miami where he would have the opportunity to first chair cases and become a member of what he found to be an extremely professional firm.

Ensuring professionalism in the legal community has become a major focus of Myron’s over the last few years, and that effort is fully supported and encouraged by the firm. “I want to make a difference inthe legal community by making sure our community of attorneys are professional, courteous and civil toward one another. It’s been my honor to be one of three RKC attorneys serving on the inaugural Eleventh Judicial Circuit’s Local Professional Panels in and for Miami-Dade County.” The court selected 27 attorneys from Miami-Dade to help advance the profession, particularly with respect to one another but also in the eyes of the public.

In addition to serving the legal community, Myron has long been dedicated to helping the youth of his community. “I served as a mentor for the Miami Midnight Baseball League and my wife and I provided foster care to those in need through Charlee House, an organization dedicated to providing resources and support to help abused, abandoned and neglected children and at-risk families to reach their full potential.”

Myron and his wife and are avid Miami Heat basketball fans. and he has been a proud season ticket holder since game one in 1987 and have just completed his 27th year as a season ticket holder.

His two daughters were born and raised in Manhattan and are now raising their children in New York. Despite the distance, Myron enjoys spending time with our  four grandchildren. “Just recently we were able to watch the two oldest, one a senior in high school and one a freshman, perform together in the musical Grease. We also travel extensively. We have traveled to Europe, Africa, the Galapagos as well as to Hawaii and Alaska.”  Myron and his wife particularly enjoy vacations where they can enjoy nature and be outdoors. "We really enjoyed our time on safari in Africa and in Galapagos.  Both were very unique and pleasurable."

Myron Shapiro with a lioness while on safari.

At home, Myron and his wife enjoy the company of their dogs. Their boxer, who is turning 12 this summer, has a canine version of ALS, a degenerative disease. Her rear legs no longer function, so they spend a lot of time assisting her with these limitations. “She gets around in a cart designed to give her freedom of mobility so she can enjoy time in the park, but I like to hold and carry her around the house when I am home. She’s always been a great dog for us, so we will be there for her.”

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