Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Services for Malpractice Attorney William Gargaro Set for Saturday
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Services are slated for Saturday for William J. Gargaro, a former prosecutor who became a leading medical malpractice attorney.
Gargaro, 67, died March 31 as a result of complications from surgery for back problems resulting from a fall last October, shortly after he retired from practice.
The Detroit native came to Beverly Hills with his family in 1949. He graduated from Loyola High School and attended Georgetown University, where he wrote the humor column of the school paper and wrote and directed a student musical.
“He was truly a renaissance man,” Los Angeles attorney Joseph Gorman said yesterday. Gorman met Gargaro at Loyola and roomed with him at Georgetown, and they married sisters.
His interests, Gorman explained, included music, magic, and creative writing. He was a performing member of the Magic Castle and used family connections to land work during summer breaks from Georgetown’s law school as a writer for the television show “Leave it to Beaver,” earning story credit for a 1962 episode in which Wally Cleaver smashes his father’s car.
His creative side showed in his work as a trial lawyer, Gorman said. “He was very good at telling a story,” he explained. “It was a big aid to him in being successful with a jury.”
After graduating from law school, he practiced in Washington, D.C. for one year and then returned to Los Angeles to spend three years in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. After taking a year off from practice to write, Gorman said, he became a Los Angeles deputy district attorney, and among his assignments was an investigation into the disappearance of drugs from county hospitals.
He left prosecution in 1974 and began a 32-year career representing medical malpractice plaintiffs and teaching at USC and Loyola law schools.
Prominent criminal defense lawyer Harland Braun, who met Gargaro in the District Attorney’s Office and later shared office space with him, described him as “a very quiet guy who felt very deeply about things.”
He noted that the two worked together on two of the county’s highest-profile criminal cases of the 1980s, the prosecution of director John Landis and others as a result of the death of actor Vic Morrow on the set of the movie “The Twilight Zone,” and the prosecution of two doctors for withdrawing nutrition and hydration, as well as life support, from a patient in a persistent vegetative state.
“It was like the Terry Schiavo case, but 20 years earlier,” Braun explained.
Gargaro is survived by his brother, Dean Gargaro; son Stephen Gargaro, and daughters Alicia Gargaro and Christie Kretz, as well as three grandchildren, eight nieces, one nephew and twelve grandnieces and grandnephews.
Stephen Gargaro, now a workers’ compensation defense attorney in Van Nuys, assisted his father earlier in his career. “It was amazing to me [to see] how respected and admired he was on both sides of medical malpractice law,” he said.
“Everyone that I knew that knew him loved him,” the younger Gargaro added, saying he had a great sense of humor and was liberal in giving assistance and advice. “I went to him for everything, he was a great father and a great friend, good listener and very caring.”
Saturday’s services are scheduled for Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Beverly Hills, where Gargaro attended school as a child, at 11 a.m. The family asked that those wishing to make donations consider the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Friends of Nurses Program c/o Robyn Putnam; Cedars-Sinai Medical Center 8700 Beverly Boulevard, Becker #113; Los Angeles, CA 90048.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company