Miles Lord

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Miles W. Lord
Miles Lord - Federal Portrait.jpg
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota
In office
1981 – September 8, 1985
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota
In office
April 28, 1966 – July 1, 1985
Appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded by Dennis F. Donovan
Succeeded by James M. Rosenbaum
Personal details
Born (1919-11-16) November 16, 1919 (age 94)
Dean Lake, Minnesota, U.S.
Profession Judge, Attorney

Miles Welton Lord (born November 6, 1919) is a former federal judge, appointed to the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota by President Lyndon B. Johnson on February 10, 1966 to fill the vacancy left by Judge Dennis F. Donovan. He served as chief judge on the district court from 1981 to 1985 and retired in September 1985.[1] He then practiced law in Minnesota, but has since retired.[2]


Lord was born in Dean Lake, Minnesota; he received his Bachelors Degree from the University of Minnesota in 1946, and his law degree from University of Minnesota Law School in 1948. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1944 to 1945, and served as an Assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Minnesota in 1951. He became Minnesota’s Attorney General from 1955 to 1960 and a full U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota from 1961 until his appointment to the Federal bench in 1966 by President Lyndon Johnson.[1]

He lives in Chanhassen, Minnesota. His son, the late Jim Lord served in the Minnesota State Senate and as Minnesota State Treasurer. He also has a daughter, Priscilla Lord Faris, who ran against satirist Al Franken, in the Democratic Party primary in 2008, for the Senate seat held by Norm Coleman. Miles Lord, Jr. (Mick) served as a top assistant to State Auditor Robert W. Mattson, Jr. and later managed the business affairs of the Miles Lord & Associates law office. Mick Lord died April 12, 2012.


Lord had been called an activist judge.[3][4] His critics accuse him of using the law as a means to make corporations pay for the damages caused, both directly or indirectly, to people and to the environment.

Landmark decisions[edit]

In his first landmark and historic decision in 1973, when the Reserve Mining Company' s processing plant at Silver Bay, Minnesota was dumping 47 tons of waste rock into Lake Superior every minute, Lord ultimately forced Reserve to stop dumping the pollutants, taconite tailings. In the Reserve Mining decision, Lord said, "This court cannot honor profit over human life."[5]

Later, he pursued the A. H. Robins Company for malpractice in issuing the Dalkon Shield intrauterine device, which was on sale from 1970 to 1974 and caused at least 18 deaths and thousands of injuries (350,000 women have claimed injury).[6] The trial was for the injured, as he felt the deaths were too hard to "pinpoint the responsibility".

The whole cost-benefit analysis is warped. They say, well you can kill so many people if the benefits are great enough. Then they can take the benefits and circulate them through the given industry, they circulate them through the oil company, through the gasoline station, through the garage, the hardware store, the drugstore, the shoemaker, the grocery store, and if they don't have enough statistics there they just circulate them through a bunch of other businesses. Once they put a price on human life, all is lost. Life is sacred. Life is priceless.[6]

What made this case remarkable judicial and corporate world was Lord's rebuke to the corporate heads, holding them personally accountable. To settle seven lawsuits, he made Robins' top three executive sign a $4.6 million settlement agreement and personally held them liable. The company ended up paying more than $220 million in compensation and $13 million in punitive damages to thousands of plaintiffs.

In 1980 in the case of Shyamala Rajender versus the University of Minnesota, Lord ordered the university to desist from discrimination against women.

Judicial review[edit]

Because of his decisions in the Robbins case, a judicial review panel met to determine if there were errors on his professional and judicial conduct.[7] Lord was cleared of wrongdoing, and went on to serve another year until his retirement.[8]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Joseph A. A. Burnquist
Minnesota Attorney General
Succeeded by
Walter Mondale

See also[edit]


External links[edit]