Friday, April 25, 2008
Civil Litigator Robert Chavez, Son and Brother of Judges, Dead at 45
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Civil litigation attorney Robert John Chavez unexpectedly passed away early yesterday morning.
He was 46. Plans for memorial services were still pending as of publication.
He was one of six children of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victor E. Chavez. Among his siblings is Victoria M. Chavez, who serves as an appellate court justice for this district.
Chavez received his undergraduate degree in public administration from the University of Southern California in 1983. The gifted athlete was an All-American and NCAA champion volleyball player, and received the David Marx Foundation Scholar Athlete Award of Honor.
He continued his education at USC Law School on a merit scholarship, and graduated in 1986.
Terry Schneier, managing partner for Wilkes & McHugh P.A.’s Rancho Paolos Verdes office, said Chavez was an “exceptional Trojan fan” with season tickets to “just about everything.”
“I don’t think he had a single shirt that didn’t have an SC logo on it.”
After joining Wilkes & McHugh in 2002—he had previously been a partner at Ford, Walker, Haggerty & Behar, L.L.P.—Chavez obtained a $12.83 million verdict in a nursing home abuse case. The verdict, in the 2005 case of Morris v. Western Convalescent Hospital, was the second largest of its type in state history, the law firm said.
In 2007, he was named one of the “Best Lawyers in America” in the peer-review publication of the same name.
The six-foot-plus Chavez was a founding member of the Association of Volleyball Professionals, whose tour he competed on for 16 years. He served several terms on the association’s board, and occasionally worked on volleyball telecasts.
Schneier, laughing, said “it wasn’t a good day for him unless he sweated some.” Schneier also said he approached trial in the same manner he prepared for athletic competitions, and that he had a “really indomitable spirit.”
She likened him to a “round-bottom clown,” the old child’s toy, because “there was just no way you were going to keep him down.”
The devoted father was also very active in his children’s sports leagues, and Schneier said “he loved his kids more than life.”
John McNicholas of McNicholas & McNicholas, who has known the Chavez family for decades, said of recent phone conversation he had with Robert Chavez that he “had never heard a father go on with such love and devotion about his children,”
Chavez is survived by his wife; Christina Chavez, three children; Christopher, Steven and Chloe; and a large extended family.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company