Pat Maloney Sr., 81, a flamboyant trial lawyer whose numerous multimillion-dollar verdicts landed him in years past on the Forbes magazine list of the nation's top moneymaking lawyers, died Sept. 11 of pulmonary fibrosis at his home in San Antonio.
Combative and controversial in a personal-injury and product-liability career that spanned more than a half-century, Mr. Maloney won more than a hundred cases where the verdict topped $1 million. He was known as the king of torts.
His clients, he said, were "the injured and the downtrodden." They included an order of nuns fighting construction of a freeway, a San Antonio madam with a little black book containing 3,000 names, and a dog named Wimpy, who, for lack of a city tag, was about to be separated from his owner.
He also was a Democratic Party stalwart, raising many thousands of dollars for candidates in an era when Democrats dominated Texas politics.
One of Mr. Maloney's largest settlements grew out of a 1975 propane truck explosion in Eagle Pass, Tex. The fiery wreck killed 16 people and injured 100 after the truck swerved to avoid an oncoming car and slammed into a mobile home park. His clients, a 14-year-year boy and the boy's father, received a little more than half of the $52 million settlement.
The settlement was "probably more than the entire municipal payroll of Del Rio," the Texas border town where the case was tried, Mr. Maloney told the San Antonio Business Journal in 1987. At the time, it was the largest personal-injury award in the United States.
Mr. Maloney often said that his most memorable case was a 1979 capital murder trial involving two young Vietnamese brothers who worked as crab fishermen on the Texas Gulf Coast. They were charged with killing a longtime crabber who had terrorized them as part of an orchestrated effort to drive the newly arrived Vietnamese immigrants out of the coastal area. A San Antonio parish priest and close friend convinced a reluctant Mr. Maloney that it was his Christian duty to take the case. He represented the brothers pro bono.
Even though he was not a criminal lawyer and his clients had shot the victim six times in the back and even though he had insulted the town where the case was tried with barroom comments published in the newspaper, he managed to get an acquittal for the two young men.
The French director Louis Malle made a movie about the case, "Alamo Bay" (1985), and Mr. Maloney wrote a vanity novel about it, "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor" (1999). The main character is a colorful San Antonio lawyer named Frank Hogan.
Mr. Maloney also wrote the book "Winning the Million Dollar Lawsuit" (1983) and was co-author of "Trials and Deliberations: Inside the Jury Room" (1992).
Pat Maloney, known as PM, was born in San Antonio to an impoverished Irish Catholic family. With $50 to his name, he enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin in fall 1941 to study journalism. Three months later, after Pearl Harbor, he left school to join the Marines and was wounded in action on Guam and Iwo Jima. After receiving a Purple Heart, he returned to the University of Texas, where he received a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1948.
He decided to switch from journalism to law while covering the efforts of a young woman to get into law school at the University of Texas despite the school's effort to keep her out because it was reserving slots for returning male veterans. The young woman's zeal inspired him; she also became his wife.
He received his law degree from the University of Texas Law School in 1950 and opened the Law Offices of Pat Maloney in 1953. He won his first multimillion-dollar verdicts in 1976 and 1977, in lawsuits against Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. In 1990, a year after being named to the Forbes list of top trial lawyers, he won four more multimillion-dollar verdicts.
His wife, Olive Patricia Maloney, died in 2004.
Survivors include five children and five grandchildren.