Bill Skepnek is a native of Chicago and attended the University of Kansas on a football scholarship. Following graduation from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1978, Bill practiced law in Oklahoma City for eleven years at two of Oklahoma’s largest law firms. Bill’s practice focused on civil commercial litigation and white collar criminal defense work. In 1989, Bill returned to Lawrence and opened his own practice in 1996. Bill is licensed to practice in federal and state courts in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
In 1989, explosions at a chemical plant in Texas that killed 23 people and injured hundreds more led to numerous personal injury and wrongful death suits. Eventually an action filed on behalf of 126 victims settled for nearly $190 million dollars and created a windfall for the lawyers. Many of those plaintiffs complained about the representation in the settlement, and hired Mr. Skepnek to prosecute claims against their former attorneys. The lawsuit alleged the attorneys violated their ethical rules to their client in making an aggregate settlement of all the personal injury and wrongful death claims. In the landmark decision of Burrow v. Arce, the Supreme Court of Texas declared that attorneys who breach their fiduciary duties to their clients may be forced to disgorge all of the fees collected in the underlying action. This case created new law and set a precedent on how aggregate settlements affect lawyers and their clients. Since that time, Mr. Skepnek has continued to develop this area of law in New Jersey (Lederman v. Prudential, New Jersey 2006) and Kansas (Tilzer v. Davis, Kansas 2009).
During 1997-1999, Bill served as part of the national trial team for Raymark Industries with responsibility for an 8 state region which included Texas. Bill’s team defended approximately 3,000 abestos related claims, winning the only cases that proceeded to trial in Corpus Christi, Texas. Ultimately Raymark went into bankruptcy. However, during the time spent defending claims, Bill was responsible for uncovering the Fred Baron “Script Memo” which was thereafter extensively litigate and widely reported in many national news outlets.
Bill has prosecuted and tried numerous personal injury and medical malpractice actions to successful settlement and verdict. Of particular note, Bill tried a medical malpractice case in Douglas County, Kansas, that led to the constitutional challenge on non-economic tort damage caps in the Kansas Supreme Court. In that case, Miller v. Johnson, the jury returned a plaintiff’s verdict in the amount of $759,000.00 for the injuries suffered by Bill’s client. The defendant doctor appealed the decision, stating in part, that the award must be reduced by the $250,000.00 Kansas statutory cap on non-economic damages.
Bill presently serves as one of the lead counsel in a Qui Tam action pending against The Boeing Company and one of its suppliers relating to the sale of 21 aircraft (valued at $2,000,0000,000) to the United States that the plaintiffs claim were falsely certified as airworthy. That case was reported on Dan Rather Reports, was the subject of a multi-piece article in Mother Jones, investigated on the front page of the Washington Post, and reported in a 12 minute segment by Sky News.
Outside of the office and courtroom, Bill has taught Western Civilization at the University of Kansas for the past 18 years, and in 2005 was the Director of the Western Civilization Study Abroad Program in Paris, France and Florence, Italy for a semester.