O'Melveny 2022 Class Notes

36 O’Melveny & Myers LLP I omm.com In Memoriam JOHN NILES (CLASS OF 1968) O’Melveny retired Partner John Niles passed away on March 9, 2022, at the age of 78. Reared in Dallas, John arrived at O’Melveny in 1967 as a summer associate. After a brief stint with O’Melveny following graduation from the University of Texas Law School, he joined the US Navy, where he spent four years in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, stationed in Newport, Rhode Island; New York City; Vietnam; and Sicily. He was awarded the Navy Commendation medal for his service in Vietnam. He returned to O’Melveny in 1973, made Partner in 1978, and retired in 2004. John was widely admired, a formidable litigator who was also friendly, self-effacing, and soft-spoken. He will be remembered for his civility, integrity, and dedication to his clients. He was remarkably patient and a calming presence in any situation. After honing his litigation skills at the elbow of the founder of O’Melveny’s Litigation Department, Homer Mitchell, John became lead counsel in the massive California coordinated asbestos insurance coverage litigation for the firm’s client, Insurance Company of North America. The trusted relationship John built endures to this day, with INA’s successor, Chubb Limited. That asbestos litigation merits a word. During the 1970s, thousands of Americans filed personal injury lawsuits against asbestos producers. Since the symptoms of exposure often take years to appear, a key question was whether the producers’ current or past liability insurers had to defend the claims, and how losses should be allocated. The California coordinated proceeding became the largest of these disputes and it is hard to overstate its size and impact: the litigation ran for 17 years and the firm needed 113 people full-time just to handle INA’s document production. John led the O’Melveny team and he was a towering figure in the cavernous, custom-built courtroom. He and his team ultimately delivered a series of settlements that ensured the viability of the firm’s clients against the threat of unprecedented liabilities. To handle the sprawling litigation, John established a temporary trial office in San Francisco, which he led for several years. The outpost became so integral to the firm’s work that it helped form the nucleus for O’Melveny’s permanent San Francisco office, which opened in 1988. When he was not working, John was an avid sailor and many California Partners remember excursions to Catalina Island and other destinations. He also loved cars. He owned a Ferrari convertible and it was a surprise to many to see understated John roaring down Sunset Boulevard on his way to his home in the Palisades. Read more about John’s passing here and here.