Remembering Our Friend and Partner Jim Fetterly

October 7, 2020

Jim Fetterly

Robins Kaplan mourns the passing of our friend and longtime partner Jim Fetterly. He died on Monday, October 5, at the age of 84.  

A superb trial lawyer, Jim’s practice focused on civil litigation matters, including major fire, construction, and mass disaster litigation. His experience grew out of pursuing large insurance subrogation claims, as well as his work on the infamous 1986 Dupont Plaza fire case in Puerto Rico, which shaped law on property suits. In that case, Jim broke new ground by identifying causes of action against third-parties who contributed to the fire damage. 

Outside the courtroom, Jim was a frequent guest lecturer for various legal and insurance organizations on the subject of fire litigation. He also served as a mentor to younger attorneys at the firm and was a mainstay in the firm’s litigator training programs.

“Jim was committed to helping other lawyers succeed. He always took the time to sit down with young attorneys to talk about their cases, their upcoming trials and anything else on their minds,” said Elliot Kaplan, his longtime partner and former Executive Board Chair. “Even when he stopped practicing, he would come in and teach. It gave him so much joy to see the younger lawyers learn. And we are all better for learning from him.”

Longtime partner Dick Allyn adds, “Jim was a renaissance man with a variety of experience. He operated a commercial fishing boat in Alaska and loved the outdoors, particularly chasing walleyes. He maintained a world-class historic map collection, some of which hangs on the walls of the 25th floor. He was a kind and thoughtful person. He proved over again that you can succeed in litigation by being smart and tough but without offending your adversaries.”

Jim earned his J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School and his B.A. from Lawrence University, where he often returned to campus to visit. 

He is survived by his wife of 61 years Judy, three children Karen, Peter, and Tim, seven grandchildren, and one great grandchild.  

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