Former Federal Judge Miles Lord
Retired – No Longer Practicing Law
Minnesota Attorney General
U.S. District Court Judge Miles Lord.
Born nine decades ago on Minnesota’s Iron Range, Lord has been called “the champion of the working man” by his unending commitment to the environment and for forcing giant corporations to “do right” by average citizens harmed by their products or business practices.
Lord was elected as Minnesota Attorney General from 1955 to 1960. He then became U.S. Attorney until President Johnson appointed him as Federal District Judge in 1966.
Lord established a national reputation with his 1973 ruling that forced the Reserve Mining Company to stop dumping 47 tons of taconite waste into Lake Superior every minute.
Lord said in his decision, “this court cannot honor profit over human life.” Later, he earned notoriety for holding top officials of A.H. Robins Company accountable for the thousands of injuries suffered by women who used the company’s Dalkon Shield intrauterine birth control device. In open court, Judge Lord lectured the top executives of the company holding them personally liable and stating that “Once they put a price on human life, all is lost. Life is sacred. Life is priceless.”
Judge Lord presided over a pre-Title IX (1979) case where two female high school students were denied the right to compete on the boys swim and tennis team. No such teams for girls existed at that time. He ruled for the girls after hearing testimony from the Minnesota State High School League whose expert testified that girl’s’ bodies were not suited for such strenuous competition.”
It was Miles Lord who also encouraged his daughter to trade a career in real estate investment for one in personal injury law. “Real estate was perfect when I was raising kids, but he always wanted me to practice law,” she recalls. “After he retired from the federal court in 1985, he kept pestering me.
“He was a real guiding light as I established my own law practice, but he always insisted that I climb the ladder rung by rung, just as he did,” says Lord Faris. “He’s still a mentor in every sense of the word, and that’s a pretty special resource to have at one’s disposal.”
Reserve Mining: In 1973, Judge Lord stopped Reserved Mining from dumping 47 tons of taconite tailings every minute into Lake Superior. Later studies showed the processed taconite tailings contained cancer-producing asbestos fibers.
According to his former law clerk, Roberta Walburn, “Miles believes to the very essence of his core in the concept of ‘Justice’. This is what drove him and it was an amazing experience for me to work with someone who was so passionate about justice and to see how that passion can become a reality in the courtroom.”
Dalkon Shield Litigation: A dangerous product, which lacked proper testing, the Dalkon Shield was used for birth control. It caused serious infections and permanent sterility. After years of stonewalling by the company, as soon as Judge Lord became involved, he ordered the executives to be deposed and discovery to be completed which quickly resulted in a mass settlement.
Title IX: In 1972, two high school girls sued the Minnesota High School League to be allowed to play on the boys’ teams in tennis and track because there were no such teams for the girls. Judge Lord ruled in favor of the girls just months before Title IX was passed.
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