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A Tradition of Advocacy and Success.

Daniel A. Speights

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Daniel Speights is a partner in Speights & Runyan. He has represented plaintiffs in complex civil litigation for more than 30 years. Since 1982, he has represented public and private building owners in asbestos property damage cases in more than 30 states.  He has tried and settled more asbestos property damage cases than any other lawyer in the country.

For more than 20 years Dan has represented building owners in every major asbestos bankruptcy involving significant property damage claims. He served as lead trial counsel on behalf of all of the asbestos property damage claimants in America in the Johns-Manville bankruptcy, which resulted in a property damage fund of almost $400 million dollars. 

Dan later served as chair of the property damage committee in the Celotex bankruptcy and as a member of the joint asbestos committee in the National Gypsum bankruptcy. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit subsequently recognized that Dan “played a significant role in the successful negotiation of a consensual plan, and that a large portion of the credit for achievement of the plan was attributable to Speights & Runyan because of his credibility and the experience in asbestos related bankruptcy that he brought to the process” (in Re: Celotex Corp., 227 F.3d 1336 - 11th Cir. 2000).

From 1967 to 1970, Dan served as an officer in the United States Navy. 

Practice Areas

Dan handles individual and class action lawsuits for asbestos property damage, products liability, and environmental torts.

Memberships

  • American Bar Association
  • American Trial Lawyers Association
  • South Carolina Bar
  • South Carolina Trial Lawyers
  • United States Supreme Court and the majority of United States Courts of Appeal 

Education

  • Clemson University, Bachelor of Arts, 1967
    • Student Body President
    • Named Who’s Who Among American Colleges and Universities
    • University of South Carolina Law School, Juris Doctorate, 1973

Professional Activities and Experience

  • Serves as the Chair of the PD Advisory Committee in the Celotex bankruptcy case as one of three members of the PD Technical Advisory Committee in the National Gypsum bankruptcy case
  • Serves as Co-chair of the PD committee in the W. R. Grace bankruptcy case
  • Serves as Co-chair of the PD committee in the Federal Mogul bankruptcy case
  • Serves as one of four members of the PD committee in the United States Gypsum bankruptcy case
  • Serves as one of two PD members of the joint asbestos committee in the United States Mineral bankruptcy
  • Served as Law Clerk to the Honorable W. L. Rhodes, Jr., Resident Judge, Fourteenth Judicial Circuit (later Associate Justice, South Carolina Supreme Court)
  • Associate with Glenn, Porter & Sullivan, Columbia, South Carolina, 1973 – 1976
  • Opened his law office in his home town of Hampton, South Carolina in 1976
  • Formed Speights & Runyan with C. Alan Runyan in 1987
  • Served as a member of the South Carolina Supreme Court Commission on Grievances and Discipline, 1977 - 1980
  • Admitted to South Carolina bar and United States District Court, 1973
  • Admitted to pro hac vice in state and federal courts across the nation, including individual and class action lawsuits for asbestos property damage, products liability, and environmental torts

Representative Experience 

  • Lexington County School District Five v. United States Gypsum Co., C/A No. 82-2072-0 (D.S.C., filed August 17, 1982)
    This was the first asbestos PD case in the nation, which Dan served as lead trial counsel. The case was tried in 1984 and settled shortly before going to the jury for almost twice the actual damage claim.
  • City of Greenville v. W. R. Grace & Co., 640 F.Supp. 559 (D.S.C. 1986), aff’d 827 F.2d 975 (4th Cir. 1987)
    This was the first asbestos PD verdict in the nation. It was a $8.4 million verdict for actual and punitive damages, reduced to $6.8 million.
  • New Hampshire-Vermont Health Service Corporation, d/b/a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Hampshire v. U.S. Mineral Products Company, 10 F.3d 805 (1st Cir. 1993)
    This was the first asbestos PD verdict on behalf of a commercial building owner. Judgment with interest of $4,883,752.21 dollars.
  • Dan also successfully argued the landmark federal case establishing the most favorable statute of limitations standard for building owners in asbestos PD cases, Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. v. W.R. Grace & Co., 14 F.3d 1274 (8th Cir. 1994), as well as the inapplicability of statutes of repose, Hebron Public School District of Morton County v. United States Gypsum Co., 475 N.W.2d 120 (N.D. 1991) and the immateriality of the architect’s knowledge, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina v. W.R. Grace & Company, 781 F.Supp. 420 (D.S.C. 1991).
  • Dan has also has obtained substantial sanctions awards against the asbestos defendants, including one in excess of a million dollars.

Personal History

Dan was born in Hampton, South Carolina, on July 22, 1945. He and his wife, Judy, are the parents of two daughters. They reside in Hampton, South Carolina.

Lectures & Presentations

  • “Survey as a Function of Cost Recovery,” interdisciplinary aspects of asbestos detection and management, sponsored by the Survey Group, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia, June 1982
  • “Asbestos Health Hazards in the Schools: Legal Recovery for Cost of Abatement,” North Carolina School Boards Association, Raleigh, North Carolina, January 1983
  • “Dealing with Asbestos,” South Carolina Association of School Business Officials, Charleston, South Carolina, February 1983
  • “Cost Recovery Concepts/Attorney General’s Liability Report,” asbestos symposium, sponsored by Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, March 1983
  • “Legal Action Planning,” asbestos abatement training course, sponsored by Arizona Center for Occupational Safety and Health (ACOSH), San Diego, California, August 1983
  • “Uncovering the Asbestos Hazard,” sponsored by National School Boards Association, Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, September 1983
  • “Asbestos Materials in Buildings Seminar,” sponsored by the Survey Group, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia, January/February 1984
  • “Uncovering the Asbestos Hazard,” sponsored by National School Boards Association, Vail, Colorado, February 1984
  • “The Legal Rights and Risks of School Board Members,” sponsored by the American School Board Journal, Orlando, Florida, July 1984
  • “Legal Aspects of Asbestos in Schools,” 1984
  • “I Care” Conference, sponsored by American Association of School Administrators, Washington, D.C., September 1984
  • “Asbestos Litigation in Public Schools,” Legal Conference of the National Association of State Boards of Education, Dearborn, Michigan, October 1984
  • “Annual Symposium on Managing Asbestos in Buildings – Legal Considerations,” sponsored by the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, 1984 - 1989
  • “Meeting on Asbestos,” sponsored by the National School Boards Association, Alexandria, Virginia, October 1984
  • “Asbestos Litigation Considerations – The School District as Plaintiff,” sponsored by Tennessee School Boards Association, Knoxville, Tennessee, November 1984
  • “Asbestos Update: The Johns-Manville Bankruptcy, History of the Pennsylvania Class Action, and Trying a School Asbestos Case,” sponsored by the Texas Association of School Boards, Austin, Texas, November 1984
  • “Asbestos Litigation,” sponsored by the Washington Council of School Attorneys, Seattle, Washington, November 1984
  • “Legal Recovery for Cost of Abatement,” sponsored by the Iowa Association of School Boards, Des Moines, Iowa, December 1984
  • “Asbestos – Did the Manufacturers Really Know?,” sponsored by the American Association of School Administrators, Orlando, Florida, December 1984
  • “The Mechanics on an Asbestos Property Damage Suit,” sponsored by the American Council on Education, Washington, D.C., February 1985
  • “The Asbestos Problem: Potential Personal Liability of Superintendents,” sponsored by the American Association of School Administrators, Dallas, Texas, March 1985
  • “Asbestos Property Damage Litigation,” sponsored by Law & Business, Inc., New York City, New York, April 15-16, 1985; San Francisco, California, May 1985; and New Orleans, Louisiana, October 1985
  • “Asbestos Abatement and School Construction/Renovation,” sponsored by American School Board Journal, Montreal, Canada, July 1985
  • “Asbestos in Public Buildings,” sponsored by the National Association of Counties, Orlando, Florida, July 1985
  • “Building Management Conference,” sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Baltimore, Maryland, September 1985
  • National Educational Conference of the American School Board Journal, Las Vegas, Nevada, November 1985
  • “Non-Occupational Exposure to Asbestos in Schools and Other Buildings,” presented by Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, March 1986
  • “Building Survey/Hazard Assessment – Cost Recovery Options,” sponsored by Georgia Tech Research Institute, Atlanta, Georgia, March 1986
  • “Asbestos and the Building Owner/Operator,” sponsored by Central Illinois Employers’ Association, Peoria, Illinois, April 1986
  • “The Trial of a Property Damage Claim – Testing and Inspection: The Plaintiff’s Response,” sponsored by Defense Research Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 1986
  • “Asbestos Control, Mitigation and Litigation,” sponsored by Airport Operators Council International, Denver, Colorado, September 1986
  • “Pre-trial and Trial Management,” JCLE Circuit Court – Construction Litigation Seminar, sponsored by the South Carolina Bar, Columbia, South Carolina, October 1986
  • “Asbestos Symposium – General Session: Legal and Insurance Issues,” sponsored by Georgia Tech Research Institute, Atlanta, Georgia, March 1987
  • “Non-Occupational Exposure to Asbestos in Schools and Other Buildings,” presented by The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, March 1987
  • “Fifth Annual Toxic Tort Advocacy Institute Seminar,” sponsored by Prentice-Hall Law & Business, New York City, New York, April 1987; and San Francisco, California, May 1987
  • “Asbestos Management Seminar – Legal Ramifications on Asbestos,” sponsored by BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association International), New York City, New York, March 1988
  • “Asbestos Management Seminar – Litigation and Liability,” sponsored by BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association International), Sacramento, California, April 1988
  • “Asbestos Management Seminar – Litigation and Liability,” sponsored by BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association International), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, April 1988
  • “School & College Law: Legal Implications of Asbestos in Buildings,” sponsored by The Institute of Continuing Legal Education in Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia, September 1988
  • “Asbestos in Buildings: Legal and Management Planning,” sponsored by The Environmental Institute, San Francisco, California, January 1989
  • “Asbestos in Buildings: Executive Summary Seminar,” sponsored by Gobbell Hays Partners, Inc., Phoenix, Arizona, March 1989
  • “National Asbestos Council Fall Technical Conference – Mock Trial,” sponsored by The Environmental Management Group, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana, September 1989
  • “Asbestos in Buildings,” sponsored by Defense Research Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, June 1990
  • “Current Issues in Asbestos in Buildings,” sponsored by Defense Research Institute, Orlando, Florida, January 1992
  • “Status of Asbestos Building Cases,” sponsored by the South Carolina Chapter of the National Asbestos Council, Inc., Charleston, South Carolina, December 1992
  • “Demonstrative Evidence,” sponsored by the New Hampshire Bar Association, The Balsams, Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, March 1993
  • “South Carolina Trial Lawyers Association Annual Convention 1994: Discovery Abuse – The Solution,” Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, August 1994
  • “Sweet Potato Law – Ethics Beyond the Code” (Panel Member):
  • “Federal Practice in the District of South Carolina: New Directions in Civil Practice, Procedure & Evidence,” South Carolina Bar, Columbia, South Carolina, July 1995
  • “Ethics at Trial” (Panel Member), South Carolina Bar, Columbia, South Carolina, December 2000
  • “Effective Courtroom Advocacy,” South Carolina Bar, Columbia, South Carolina, November 2002