For more than three decades, Team Leader Kevin Lancaster, who passed away on October 2, 2017, was a tireless advocate for those who suffered from catastrophic injuries. His uncompromising devotion to practicing law with civility, fairness and integrity allowed him to be at the forefront of expanding workers’ rights and to ensure they received full compensation through civil actions. Kevin also paved the way for attorneys to view workers’ compensation cases in a broader sense in order to rule out other possibilities, and his efforts ultimately resulted in new laws and safety regulations.
Kevin litigated a multitude of highly technical product liability cases involving consumer products, industrial products, tools and machines. His professional negligence experience was both broad and deep, and included legal malpractice, architectural negligence and engineering negligence cases.
In 2004, he brought to light the dangers posed by everyday cartridge pool filter systems after working on several cases in which such a filter had turned into a pressurized bomb. Due to a design flaw, the filters, which had been marketed as safe and easy to use, stored too much air, causing the devices to explode while being cleaned or replaced and resulting in serious injury or death. Manufacturers downplayed the danger, made small modifications to the filters and failed to address the serious risks of potential explosions. Kevin pressured manufacturers to address these issues and make significant modifications, and he worked tirelessly to publicize these dangers.
Outside the courtroom, Kevin was dedicated to giving back to both the legal and local communities. He put on free legal clinics, participated in public radio call-in shows and served as a moot court judge for cases involving appellate and trial practice at the University of San Francisco School of Law and Golden Gate University School of Law, and on behalf of the American Trial Lawyers Association and the American Bar Association. He also served as a juvenile court judge pro tem for the San Francisco Youth Court and directed a high school moot court program.
Moreover, Kevin served as a faculty member of the “Tort and Trial” series sponsored by the Consumer Attorneys of California, for which he reviewed and analyzed all California and U.S. Supreme Court and appellate cases bearing on tort and trial practice. He provided MCLE instruction for statewide and local trial lawyer chapters, the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association, the CEB and Industrial Safety Professionals. In addition, Kevin was an author of the practice guide California Causes of Action (15th edition, James Publishing).
For over a decade, Kevin served as the chair of the Pastoral Council of St. Mary’s/St. Francis de Sales Parish in Oakland. He and his family volunteered at the parish’s homeless shelter and participated in Habitat for Humanity, Rebuild Oakland Together and other social justice outreach projects in West Oakland. Kevin spent a lifetime giving back to his local community.
Recently, he was honored with the 2017 San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1950, Kevin went on to obtain his J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law, his M.A. from the University of California at Santa Barbara and his B.A. from George Washington University.
The Veen Firm is honored to have worked with Kevin. We are grateful for his dedication, mentorship and friendship, and hope to continue his legacy.