EXPIRED: 10/29/09 – John O’Quinn, 68, a Texas trial lawyer who is estimated to have won $1.5 billion for his firm, is known to have thrown ridiculously lavish birthday parties for himself, owns insanely expensive cars and has no apparent heirs, died in a car crash.

His biggest wins were a $1 billion verdict in 2006 against Wyeth Laboratory for its diet drugs, fen-phen, $17.3 billion tobacco settlement for the state of Texas, and $100 million for silicone breast implants made by Dow Corning.

He also had had pending cases against stock brokers and hedge funds for shorting the shares of weak companies, and against Ford for rollover accidents caused by the Ford Explorer.

Safe to say, we worked hard. But he played hard too.

For his 65th birthday, O’Quinn threw himself a party that was legendary in Houston. Ballrooms featured multitiered crystal chandeliers mounted above Monte Carlo-style casino tables, crystal wall sconces, hundreds of guests and three musical acts — including Don Henley of the Eagles.

O’Quinn also collected cars. His stockpile was valued at over $100 million and numbered 618, including: seven Duesenbergs; the 1911 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost featured in the film Titanic; JFK’s 1962 Lincoln Continental Bubble Top limo; a 1937 Bugatti Type 57 Atalante; a 2005 Lamborghini Gallardo covered with 33 celebrity autographs; the Batmobile used in the filming of Batman Forever; a 1941 Packard limousine used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt; a 1938 Talbot-Lago; and a 1938 Town Car used by Pope Pius XII.

The centre piece of the collection is a plain grey 1975 Ford Escort GL, once owned by Polish priest Karol Wojtyla – before he became Pope John Paul II.

His crash, however, was in a simple SUV – Chevrolet Suburban. And for someone as smart as John O’Quinn, it’s astounding that on a rainy morning and on slick streets, he wasn’t wearing a seat belt and the force of the crash uprooted a 30-foot tree.

Not so smart after all.



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