Born in Texas, raised in Oklahoma, Gil Purcell relocated to California in 1971 when Chevron closed its Midwest offices and his family moved to San Francisco. He attended Mt. Diablo High School in Concord, California where he was Valedictorian of his 1976 class. In 1979 Mr. Purcell attended Pembroke College at Cambridge University, studying International Economics and Courts before returning to UCLA to complete his B.A. in Economics. He studied law at Pepperdine University Law School, clerking for prominent plaintiff firms in Los Angeles and was a founding member of a mid-sized plaintiffs firm with trial lawyers Federico Sayre (former founding partner with legendary trial lawyer Melvin Belli) and Raymond Boucher. He tried his first asbestos case in 1986 before California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald M. George. After achieving a sizeable verdict, and one of the first verdicts against the John Crane Packing Company, he was asked to return to the Bay Area and try asbestos cases for Steve Kazan, founding and senior partner of Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood and Harley, PLC in Oakland.
It was through this trial work that he met current partner, Alan Brayton. Before relocating to the Bay Area, Mr. Purcell tried to verdict the first successful asbestos property damage action in California against W.R. Grace & Co., manufacturer of asbestos–containing spray–applied fireproofing, obtaining the first of several multimillion-dollar verdicts. In that case, Mr. Purcell represented the owners of a 32–story condominium building in downtown Los Angeles and had many current and former Superior Court Judges and prominent attorneys as clients.
Widely regarded as the premiere asbestos trial lawyer – Mr. Purcell has tried, and been more successful in obtaining verdicts for victims of asbestos disease, than any other attorney. His trials span the western United States (Washington, Oregon and Utah) and throughout California (Alameda, Los Angeles, Solano, San Francisco, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Orange, Riverside, Ventura, San Bernardino and Contra Costa counties). In addition to numerous mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer and asbestosis trials, Mr. Purcell tried the very first asbestos-related non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cases in Washington and Oregon, as well as asbestos-related colorectal cancer case in California.
He has argued multiple successful appeals before the California Court of Appeal, the California Supreme Court, the Utah Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and in Federal Courts involving complex asbestos, shipyard, railroad–related FELA/BIA/Preemption and personal injury issues. For an example of his trial work, see his record of trial verdicts.
Mr. Purcell has testified before the California Legislature on behalf of the Los Angeles Community College District addressing the injustice of limitations running against public entities barring pursuit of remedial asbestos cost recovery litigation.
Admissions, Associations, Activities and Accolades
Mr. Purcell was admitted to California Bar in 1984 and is also admitted before the U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit; U.S. District Courts, Northern, Eastern, Central and Southern Districts of California; District of Columbia, Court of Appeals. He is the author of “Rostker v. Goldberg: A Step Backward in Equal Protection, or a Justifiable Affirmation of Congressional Power?” Pepperdine Law Review, Vol.9, No. 2, p. 441.
He is on the Board of Directors and Board of Governors for the Consumer Attorneys of California; and a member of the American Association for Justice (former Acting Chair, AAJ Railroad Law Section). He is also a member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, Public Justice, Litigation Counsel of America – Trial Lawyer Honorary Society, the American Bar Association, and the Bar Association of San Francisco. Since its inception in 2007, Mr. Purcell has been honored by the National Trial Lawyers as a member of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in California. Mr. Purcell became the youngest member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) to achieve the designation of diplomat in 2008.
Mr. Purcell was selected as Attorney of the Year by The Recorder in 2011, and one of Lawdragon’s Top 500 Attorneys for 2012. He was the recipient of the 2013 Pepperdine University School of Law Distinguished Alumni Award. In 2014, he received the Marin Trial Lawyers Association Trial Lawyer of the Year Award, and received the 2015 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award from the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association.
Mr. Purcell has been an invited speaker at educational seminars teaching other attorneys how to try asbestos cases, including specific assistance with:
Jury selection, Opening statements, Witness preparation & presentation, Closing arguments, Jury instructions
Additionally, he lectures on substantial factor causation in asbestos litigation at American Lung Association meetings, the Cedars Sinai Medical Center Forums on Asbestos Diseases; the Andrews Publications Annual Asbestos Conferences in New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco and Colorado; the Perrin Conferences Asbestos Litigation Conference; Plaintiffs Asbestos Litigation Seminar with founder and colleague Shepard Hoffman; KPIX radio; the National Lawyers Guild; and the Bay Area Community Law Foundation—Litigating for Social Justice Program Series. He also lectures on trial practice at law schools throughout California.
He is rated “AV Preeminent” by Martindale–Hubbell, indicating that he has achieved the height of professional excellence. This peer–reviewed rank indicates the highest level of skill and integrity in an attorney’s practice areas. His peers have also selected Mr. Purcell as a Northern California Super Lawyer for thirteen consecutive years. In 2017, he was ranked as one of Northern California’s Top 100 Super Lawyers.
Mr. Purcell is a graduate of the Jim Russell Racing School, having driven at Laguna Seca and Infineon Raceways. He hopes to someday compete in the USAC Formula Russell Pro Series Racing Championship, and regularly attends Indy Car, Formula One, and IRL races, including the annual Indianapolis 500 since 1985.
Mr. Purcell actively supports and defends animal rights – regularly assisting humane societies including Pets Without Parents, Voices for Pets, and the Marin Humane Society with their legal issues.
Mr. Purcell lives in Sausalito with Roxanne Sheridan and their ten cats, all of who were rescued from Bay Area animal shelters. Never to shy away from a challenge, he has worked to painstakingly restore a Sausalito historical landmark since 2003.