|Born||James Louis Ferraro
Greenwich, Connecticut, United States
|Alma mater||University of Miami|
|Occupation||Attorney, Sports Agent, Author|
|Organization||The Ferraro Law Firm|
|Known for||The DuPont Trial (1996)
Founding Cleveland Gladiators
|Political party||Democratic Party|
|Spouse(s)||Megan (married July 2017)|
|Children||James (born 1986)
Andrew (born 1989)
Alexis (born 1993)
Dmitri (born 2012)
Mateo (born 2016)
|Awards||Knights of Malta (1999)
Ellis Island Medal of Honor (2001)
Jim L. Ferraro (born 1957) is an American litigation attorney and author best known for representing thousands of blue collar workers in mass tort cases against major chemical companies such as DuPont. In 1996, he successfully prosecuted the first case in American history against a chemical company for causing a birth defect and wrote a book, Blindsided, about the case in 2017.
While attending the University of Miami he played football for the Miami Hurricanes for two years, and after serving as a sports agent for players such as Albert Bentley and Eddie Brown, founded the Cleveland Gladiators in 2001. He was majority owner of the franchise. He is a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and an active member of the Democratic Party.
Early life, education
Jim Ferraro was born in Greenwich, Connecticut in 1957 to Louis and Luella Ferraro of Cos Cob, Connecticut. Growing up in Greenwich, he played four seasons of high school football. At age 14, he started for the varsity as a freshman defensive end for 1971 St. Mary's High Blue Knights, earning three letters. He also played baseball for two years at St. Mary's. He transferred to Greenwich High School for his senior year, where he started at inside linebacker and was the second leading tackler for the undefeated 1974 Greenwich Cardinals.
After graduating from Greenwich High School in 1975, Ferraro moved to Florida to attend college at the University of Miami. He obtained his Bachelor of Business Administration in 1978, and Master of Science in Accounting in 1979. He became a Certified Public Accountant in 1980, and obtained his Juris Doctor in 1983 from the University of Miami School of Law.
Early sports career
Ferraro played football for the Miami Hurricanes in 1975 and 1976. Later while attending Law School he met University of Miami quarterback Bernie Kosar, who would later play with the Cleveland Browns. Ferraro became a Sports Agent, and in the early 1980s went on to also represent a number of first-round draft picks from the Hurricane's early championship years, including Albert Bentley and Eddie Brown (the 1985 NFL "Rookie of the Year"). Ferraro was on one of two finalists bidding to represent Bernie Kosar in 1985, though Kosar ended up with a local group from Ohio. Shortly after, Ferraro left his sports practice to begin focusing on law.
After graduating from law school in 1983, Ferraro worked briefly for a civil litigation defense firm. On May 13, 1985 he opened his own mass tort litigation practice, The Ferraro Law Firm, where he began working to represent blue-collar workers such as workers that had been exposed to asbestos. By 1990 his firm was representing thousands of blue collar workers. On June 15, 1997 he opened a second law firm, Kelley & Ferraro, along with Michael V. Kelley in Cleveland, Ohio. The two firms combined have handled over 50,000 asbestos cases, as well as nationwide environmental toxic tort cases.
In 1996 Ferraro successfully went to trial against DuPont in what was the first case ever prosecuted against a chemical company for causing a birth defect. CourtTV broadcast the trial in its entirely, and it garnered worldwide media attention. Because of the case, in 1997 Ferraro was named a national finalist for Trial Lawyer of the Year. Seven years later, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the verdict.
In 2017, Ferraro released a book, Blindsided: The True Story of One Man's Crusade Against Chemical Giant DuPont for a Boy with No Eyes (Gildan Media). The book discusses the decade long courtroom battle waged in Florida to help bring justice and hope to the family of the young boy born with no eyes.
Ferraro is a member of the Ohio, New York, Florida and Massachusetts Bars, as well as the American Bar Association. He is also a member of the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the American Association for Justice, the Florida Justice Association, the Public Justice Foundation, and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
In 2001, he founded the Gladiators arena football team in New Jersey. The team then spent five years in Las Vegas before settling in Cleveland, Ohio. Ferraro is still the majority owner of the franchise, and minority partner is his friend Bernie Kosar. In 2007, the team had the biggest turnaround in the history of the Arena Football League. The Gladiators had a two and fourteen record, but in 2008 they made it to the final four teams in the playoffs, one game shy of the Arena Bowl Championship.
In 2001, he was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, given to U.S. citizens from various ethnic backgrounds who exemplify outstanding qualities in both their personal and professional lives while preserving their heritage, which in his case meant Italian. Among the 100 individuals inducted that year were Rudolph Giuliani and Yogi Berra.
Ferraro currently lives in Fisher Island, Florida, as well as New York City and Martha's Vineyard, where he built a compound in West Chop, Massachusetts. He has five children, including James (born 1986), Andrew (born 1989), Alexis (born 1993), Dmitri (born 2012), and Mateo (born 2016).
In July 2017, he married his wife Megan.
Ferraro is an active member of the Democratic Party, and is a trustee of the The William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation, an organization dedicated to urgent worldwide issues. He counts Bill and Hillary Clinton as his friends.
Ferraro donates to a multitude of charities annually. He is on the Board of Directors of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida, the Children's Home Society, United Way of Miami-Dade, the Jackson Memorial Foundation and The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis. He is also a member of the University of Miami's Bowman Foster Ashe Society.
For his philanthropy, in 1999 he was inducted to the Order of Saint John Knights of Malta, a worldwide organization dedicated to helping the sick and the poor. Past recipients include six former U.S. Presidents and Nobel Prize winners.
In 2008, he donated $600,000 to the University of Miami Law School to establish The Ferraro Scholarship, an endowed scholarship fund. He is also a member of the University of Miami's Bowman Foster Ashe Society, established in recognition of individuals, families and organizations whose contributions are over $500,000. In 2008, he donated $1 million to the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis. In 2010, he was chosen as one of the Twelve Good Men by the Ronald McDonald House of Charities of South Florida.
- "The people's Champion". James L. Ferraro. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
- "Jim Ferraro: Working for the Public Good". Florida Magazine. Spring 2001. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
- "The James L. Ferraro Endowed Scholarship". Momentum: The Campaign for the University of Miami. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
- Ashton, John (August 18, 1996). "Blind Justice: John has no eyes. But now he has hope.". Night and Day. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
- Wilson, Stephanie. "The People's Champion". Haute Living. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
- Hoag, Christina (July 11, 2003). "$4M award against DuPont reinstated". The Miami Herald. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
- "Q&A: Jim Ferraro Talks His New Book on Groundbreaking Birth Defect Trial" Daily Business Review. Retrieved 2017-06-18.
- Blair, Ezra (February 16, 2006). "West Chop Compound Underway". Martha's Vineyard Times. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
- Anwar, Gabrielle. "James Ferraro - Superstar Attorney Fights as Hard for his Disenfranchised Clients as he Does for Favorite Charities". Plum Magazine. Retrieved 2011-07-19.