Timothy S. Trecek

Receives 2011 Robert L. Habush Trial Lawyer of the Year Award

Timothy S. Trecek received the 2011 Robert L. Habush Trial Lawyer of the Year Award.  President Mike End presented the award at the Wisconsin Association for Justice Dinner on December 2 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The Robert L. Habush Trial Lawyer of the Year Award was established in 2000 to recognize a trial lawyer who has made contributions to the trial bar by handling a case involving a significant change in the law or a precedent-setting suit, or by donating time on a committee or project that benefited injured consumers.  The award is named in honor of Robert L. Habush for his years of dedication and commitment to the fight for the rights of accident victims nationwide and for the tremendous time and energy he has devoted to WAJ.  Mr. Habush has served WAJ in many capacities, twice being president (1968-69 and 1971-72) and for ten years chairing the Legislative Committee.  He also served as president of the national American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) from 1986-87.

Timothy S. Trecek is a 1993 graduate of Marquette Law School and after a short stint with a defense firm he joined the Habush Habush and Rottier law firm in 1995.  He is a shareholder and member of the firm’s Executive Committee and is a managing partner of both the Milwaukee and West Bend offices.

Mike End listed many of Tim’ accomplishments.  The Wisconsin Law Journal named Tim as one of Wisconsin’s Leaders in the Law in 2008. He has been chosen to appear in the Millennium Edition of Who’s Who in American Law and also the 2002 edition of Who’s Who in America. Tim has been recognized as a “Super Lawyer” by Milwaukee Magazine each year since 2006; made the Top 50 List in 2010.  Tim is listed in the Best Lawyers in America for both personal injury and product liability litigation, and is a Fellow in the International Society of Barristers.

Daniel Rottier, the 2008 recipient of the Robert L. Habush Trial Lawyer of the Year Award, nominated Tim.  Dan wrote in his nomination: “Tim’s career has been marked by not only extraordinary success as a trial lawyer, but also by his contribution to the legal profession and his community.  He just completed nine years as a Milwaukee Representative to the Office of Lawyer Regulation, having been appointed by the Supreme Court to fill that role.  He is in his sixth year of teaching advanced trial advocacy at Marquette for those students who want to develop a career in litigation.  Many of the younger members of WAJ have taken his class.  He is also active in the local community and his church.”

Dan noted that recipients of the Award can be nominated for specific cases and said “there were three cases in particular that are worth mentioning because of their difficulty and also the level of professional accomplishment that they reflect.”

This first involved the death of a young child who was killed in traffic.  Her mother witnessed the accident.  Tim was able to settle the case for the policy limits after repeated refusals to accept less.  Dan noted, “Most lawyers would no doubt have accepted a lesser offer, but in this instance Tim was able to obtain the maximum amount for the death of the child and [a large sum for] a Bowen claim for the mother.  His steadfast refusal to take less demonstrates his strength of will and strong advocacy for his client.”

The second case involved the serious injury of a young woman with a personal watercraft. Dan said that, “women who fall off the back of personal watercraft are exposed to a tremendous risk of internal injuries because of the force of the water being propelled through the bottom of the machine.”  This is a hazard not often known.  As a result of Tim’s case and others, Dan said, “the manufacturers have now included a warning of this risk, telling users they must wear wetsuits.”  In Tim’s case, the young woman’s friend rented a personal watercraft and it did not come with the necessary protective clothing.  Tim was able to settle the claim against the renter for a significant amount.

Finally, Tim recently settled a case for eight workers who were injured in a coal dust explosion at a We Energies plant in Oak Creek that occurred in 2009.  The workers were building scaffolding inside the dust collector when it exploded.  The workers were injured to varying degrees. One young worker, aged 22, suffered third-degree burns from his waist to his ankle and lost an ear, spending 77 days in the burn unit at Columbia St. Mary's Medical Center accumulating over $1.5 million dollars in medical bills.  After an investigation, federal safety regulators cited the Waukesha scaffolding company, ThyssenKrupp, and We Energies for "willful and serious" safety violations. The lawsuit alleged that We Energies knew that where the workers were setting up their scaffolding was unsafe, that the dust was highly combustible and that the fire-suppression system in that building was "non-functional."  The workers settled with WE Energies.  Dan said, “the overall result reflected the strength of the case Tim had put together.”

Dan concluded, “I strongly recommend Tim for this award. The combination of his innate ability, his devotion to his clients and his willingness to give back to the profession are the attributes that the recipient of this award should have.”

In presenting the award, Mike End said, “Tim is in his sixth year teaching advanced trial advocacy at Marquette Law School for those students who want to develop a career in litigation.  I had the opportunity of watching one of the trials put on by Tim’s students last year and I can tell you his instruction for those students has been remarkably effective. Tim deserves this award for more than the excellent representation he has provided to his clients. It is with great pleasure that I present this award to Tim Trecek.”   

Tim graciously accepted the award and gave the following remarks:

As trial lawyers, we become self- assured in our case and our presentation.  We have the reputations of being master wordsmiths, having the ability to articulate our position concisely and convincingly.  I stand before you tonight, assured only, that I am ill equipped to adequately convey my deepest appreciation and humility in being honored with this award.

 I want to talk about the biggest reason this recognition means so much to me.  The honor of receiving it is commensurate with the immense respect and admiration I have for the award’s namesake, Bob Habush.  In this world of Paris Hilton and the Kardashians, we know that fame can occur irrespective of talent or good works.  Fame is fleeting and it can come as quickly as it can go.  Greatness, on the other hand, takes a lifetime.  The greatness of a career is what prompted this organization to name this wonderful award after Bob 10 years ago.

 Bob, to me, has become what Vince Lombardi was to many of his players.  The older I get, the more I realize that every learning experience has ramifications beyond its specific application.  Everything I’ve learned from Bob in depositions, strategy sessions, and trial, has equal or possibly greater significance in life outside the law.  I’ve had the unparalleled gift of working with, watching and learning from Bob, every day for the last 17 years.  My 17 years of gawking are but a blip on his sterling 50 years of fighting the good fight.

 I have given much of myself in the representation of my clients – as a matter of self pride, to provide the best advocacy on behalf of my client’s cause, to promote a just and fair resolution of a conflict – yet, as powerful as those reasons for my efforts, an ever present force, was the desire to pay homage to Bob, his career and his legacy through the continued successes on behalf of the firm’s clients.

 I want each of you to look to your left and look to your right.  Look to the table in front of you and look to the table behind you – you are surrounded by talented people doing great and decent things.  We fight on the side of angels.  We give voice to those who either have no voice or have a voice so faint and so frail, it would be drowned out by the forces of money and power.  Whether you work on cases with a value of $900 or $99 million, as a member of this organization, you have active hands, an active head and, most importantly, an active heart.  Your talents and efforts are creating a more just society.  Be proud of who you are; be proud of what you do – we are trial lawyers.

 Our courtrooms remain our great societal sieve of resolution – in which conservative misinformation, deception and lies get drained and dispensed through competent voir dire, the rules of evidence and the power of juror common sense – leaving the facts, the application of law and ultimately, the truth.  When that occurs, justice prevails and no matter what the outcome, our system of civil justice wins.

 Getting this recognition tells me that, at least this past year, I have scratched the surface of some of the grit, fire, fight, professionalism, excellence and greatness that Bob Habush has embodied throughout his 50 years of practice.  This honor, flattering beyond words, is for me, a professional milestone and inspires me to continue the fight which we have all dedicated our careers to fighting.  Thank you all again from the bottom of my heart.


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