Russell W. Budd, a mainstay of the plaintiff’s bar with more than forty-five years’ experience representing victims of corporate wrongdoing, has been a trailblazer for the entirety of his career. Serving as a Baron & Budd shareholder since 1985 and president and managing shareholder since 2002, Mr. Budd presides over one of the nation’s largest plaintiffs’ firms. Founded in 1977, Baron & Budd has nearly 200 full-time employees and is headquartered in Dallas, Texas, with offices in Los Angeles, California; San Diego, California; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Washington, D.C.
Baron & Budd has achieved substantial national acclaim for its work on cutting-edge litigation, trying hundreds of cases to verdict and settling tens of thousands of cases for hundreds of billions of dollars in areas of litigation as diverse as pharmaceuticals and defective medical devices, asbestos and mesothelioma, water contamination, fraudulent banking practices, motor vehicles, employment, and other consumer fraud issues. Mr. Budd’s leadership among plaintiff’s attorneys is unrivaled. Over the past four and a half decades, he has played a major role in many of the largest cases ever to be litigated in the United States court system.
Since the 1980s, Russell Budd has successfully protected the interests of asbestos victims across the country. He was appointed by United States Trustees in the early 2000s to serve on the creditors’ committees of numerous asbestos manufacturer bankruptcies where he represented and advocated on behalf of individuals harmed by the debtors’ asbestos-containing products. Working in that role, Mr. Budd was instrumental in reaching settlements to fund and establish asbestos trust funds to protect present and future asbestos victims. Mr. Budd’s efforts as a chief negotiator in the Halliburton bankruptcy resulted in a $4 billion national settlement and created the largest asbestos trust fund of its kind anywhere in the world. Additionally, Mr. Budd helped negotiate a $3.9 billion settlement with United States Gypsum to benefit asbestos claimants and a nearly $3 billion cash and stock equity settlement with W.R. Grace to fund an asbestos trust for asbestos claimants. Mr. Budd’s invaluable knowledge, expertise, and guidance at the inception of those bankruptcies established the foundation for the long-term successful administration of asbestos trusts.
Today, Mr. Budd sits on the Trust Advisory Committee (TAC) of the following asbestos trusts where he continues to protect the interests of injured individuals: ABB Lummus Global Inc 524(g) Asbestos PI Trust, Armstrong World Industries, Inc. Asbestos PI Settlement Trust, Babcock & Wilcox Company Asbestos PI Settlement Trust, Celotex Asbestos Settlement Trust, Combustion Engineering 524(g) Asbestos PI Trust, Federal-Mogul Asbestos Personal Injury Trust, Fuller Austin Asbestos Settlement Trust, JT Thorpe Successor Trust, NGC Bodily Injury Trust, Owens Corning/Fibreboard Asbestos Personal Injury Trust, Swan Asbestos and Silica Settlement Trust, United States Gypsum Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust, and WRG Asbestos PI Trust. Additionally, Baron & Budd shareholders also sit on the following TACs where they too advocate for asbestos victims’ interests: ASARCO, DII Industries, LLC Asbestos PI Trust, Flintkote Asbestos Trust, G-I Holdings Inc. Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust, M.H. Detrick Co. Asbestos Trust, Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust, NARCO Asbestos Trust, Pittsburgh Corning Corporation, Quigley Company, Inc. Asbestos PI Trust, Rapid American Asbestos Personal Injury Liquidating Trust, Rock Wool Mfg. Co. Asbestos Trust, Rutland Fire Clay Co. Asbestos Trust, and TH Agriculture & Nutrition LLC Asbestos Personal Injury Trust. In total, Mr. Budd and other members of his firm currently serve as advisors to trustees who are responsible for more than $30 billion in asbestos trust assets. In addition to his legal work, Mr. Budd has been a tireless leader in the political arena, fighting tort reform, including proposed state and federal legislation that would harm the rights of tort victims.
Russell Budd’s landmark settlement work, however, is not limited to asbestos cases. His efforts have been instrumental in numerous other cases, spanning from the banking industry to the BP oil spill, along with his more recent work on the national opioid litigation. Mr. Budd was appointed by the Honorable Dan Aaron Polster (N.D. Ohio) to the Plaintiffs’ Settlement Negotiation Team for In re National Prescription Opiate Litigation, MDL 2804. Together with co-counsel, Russell Budd and his firm represent more than 700 public entities and eight Attorneys General across the nation in litigation against prescription opioid manufacturers, distributors and dispensers. The Settlement Negotiation Team, comprised of seven elite trial lawyers from top plaintiffs’ firms around the county, have been responsible for negotiating more than $46 billion in settlements with the nation’s largest and most prominent drug distributors, manufacturers and dispensers. The settlement funds, which began flowing to communities across America in 2022, are providing abatement and relief to states, counties, cities, and native American tribes to combat the opioid crisis.
Mr. Budd also represents the state of New Mexico in its opioid litigation. He has successfully negotiated settlements from pharmacies, distributors and manufacturers in New Mexico valued at a combined $538 million. He also supervised a seven week trial for the state in Santa Fe resulting in a confidential settlement with the last remaining pharmacy defendant, Walgreens. That settlement cannot be publicly disclosed until May 2023. “These settlements represent a significant step toward holding opioid sellers responsible for their role in creating a public health crisis that continues to plague our country,” said Mr. Budd. Nationally, Russell Budd and his colleagues on the Settlement Negotiation Team, along with state Attorneys General, continue to negotiate and mediate with remaining opioid defendants in MDL 2804.
Settlement negotiations of this scale are nothing new to Russell Budd. He was a chief negotiator for the 2012 settlement with JPMorgan Chase in In Re Checking Account Overdraft Litigation, which resulted in $110 million in cash and more than $100 million in business practice changes benefiting Chase customers. Mr. Budd was a leader in the Overdraft litigation which, in 2011, led to a $410 million settlement of with Bank of America. He was also one of the negotiators of a $177 million settlement for litigation brought on behalf of seven states’ attorneys general against GlaxoSmithKline regarding its fraudulent marketing of the diabetes drug Avandia.
Under Mr. Budd’s leadership, Baron & Budd has garnered significant national recognition for cutting-edge litigation and settlements. The firm’s Environmental Litigation group was named one of Law360’s 2020 Practice Groups of the Year for more than $1 billion in settlements with Pacific Gas & Electric for municipalities and individuals concerning wildfire damage in California, and $648 million in settlements with Bayer AG over water pollution caused by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). In addition, in December of 2022, Baron & Budd’s Environmental Group received final approval in a $575.5 million class action for cities and counties against Monsanto concerning water pollution.
Mr. Budd and his wife, Dorothy, are deeply committed to their community. The Budds were instrumental in establishing the Dallas Faith Communities Coalition (DFCC) with the Dallas Mayor’s office in the early 2000s with the long term goal of working with community partners toward eradicating systemic causes of poverty in low-income communities with greater access to affordable housing and community safety. The partnership led the Budds to personally contribute funds to build 100 affordable single-family homes as part of the “Building on Faith” project, a collaborative initiative between the Dallas Faith Communities Coalition (DFCC), the City of Dallas, and Habitat for Humanity. In 2010, the DFCC partnered with the Center on Communities and Education (CCE) at Southern Methodist University in Dallas to create meaningful education collaboration with local public and charter schools located in the West Dallas area. In 2014, Mr. and Mrs. Budd donated $2.5 million to Southern Methodist University to endow The Budd Center for Involving Communities in Education, uniting the work of the DFCC and CCE in collective partnership to provide Dallas-area children the education, social and emotional tools they need to break the cycle of poverty. The Center leads a partnership of more than 30 nonprofits and 15 public, private and charter schools in Dallas. Mr. Budd continues to monitor the progress of The Budd Center as a member of the Advisory Board of the Simmons School of Education and Human Development at Southern Methodist University.
In 2017, Mr. and Mrs. Budd endowed $3 million to the University of Texas School of Law to create The Budd Innocence Center, with the goal of improving the criminal justice system by helping prevent injustice and protecting the innocent. The Center sponsors events to highlight issues related to wrongful convictions, and as its main project, supports the education of law school students through the Actual Innocence Clinic. Clinic students and experienced faculty work together to provide legal assistance to prisoners with claims that they are innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted. Clinic students typically screen and investigate claims, interview witnesses, review transcripts, prepare motions and pleadings, and conduct factual and legal research.