In Memory
Russell D. Melton
June 3, 1945 − February 21, 2013

Please direct any business inquiries to Chad Stepan.

Russ provides scene management, forensic investigation, defense of potentially responsible parties (PRPs) and defense of owners, operators, brokers and insurers in the wake of complex catastrophic events across the United States — especially cases involving fires and explosions, structural failure, geotechnical failure, product failure and chemical release.  Russ is a specialist in the field of admiralty and maritime law.  He is a Proctor in Admiralty.

It is essential that attorneys practicing in this area be qualified, certified, and competent at problem resolution – in addition to being knowledgeable about applicable legal principles.  They should be able to represent a client from the time of the catastrophic incident, through investigation and discovery, all the way to jury verdict at trial, or on appeal.

In a catastrophic incident, Russ brings in his team of technically-trained lawyers and hand-picked experts to determine the failure mode and assign responsibility.  He assesses the client’s defense or chances of insurance recovery and then proceeds with the action or provides technical support for that effort to local counsel.  He also advises clients on emergency response and site remediation.

When dealing with a catastrophic incident, a lawyer must know the science and the engineering as well as the law.  Russ recently published a white paper on this subject:  The Convergence of Science and Law.
In addition to his law degree, Russ holds an undergraduate degree in metallurgical engineering and did graduate work in human factors engineering.  He is a qualified nuclear engineer with the U.S. Navy, Westinghouse and General Electric.  He has taught upper-division courses on product design at the University of Minnesota, Institute of Technology.

Russ has tried landmark cases that set standards for spoliation of evidence and duty to inspect, and often speaks on these subjects.  In addition, he is frequently asked to speak before industry groups on the legal issues surrounding the storage and handling of fuel gas, electrical safety, hazardous waste and emergency management.

Russ’ outside interests reflect his professional interests.  He uses his skills to run fire and explosion demonstrations and testing around the country, and to train officers of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  He is also an inventor.