Gerald* & Shannon Michaud

Gerald* & Shannon Michaud

donor plaque
Gerald* & Shannon  Michaud

The late Gerald L. Michaud, ba and jd '51, was born and raised in the rural community of Morganville, Kan. Coming from a family of modest means, Michaud learned to work hard for his success. After graduating high school two years early at the age of 16, Gerald continued his accelerated education and attended Washburn University on a football scholarship. Here, he obtained undergraduate and law degrees by the age of 21. He then moved to Wichita, Kan. to begin his legal career. For the first five years after his graduation, he rode the bus to work and dreamed of making $10,000 a year. His legal career was stellar from start to finish. His efforts created and advanced new law in the fields of medical negligence and products liability. His work in these areas was a great public service, having spared the lives and serious injuries of an untold number of product users, particularly women. A few of Michaud's legal accomplishments included: Michaud and his law firm proved that super absorbent tampons caused toxic shock syndrome and won $11 million from International Playtex in the 1983 death of a Wichita woman. The company voluntarily recalled the product about two weeks after the trial and changed it to make it safer. Michaud and his law firm proved that birth control pills caused strokes, kidney disease, heart disease, blood clots and hair loss and forced drug companies to reformulate the pill making them safer for thousands of women. Michaud proved that benzene caused cancer and won a  $34 million verdict against Texaco. Gas pumps now have protective shields to minimize the fumes that escape. His success as a trial lawyer resulted in his acceptance into the Inner Circle of Advocates, an organization limited to 100 plaintiff's lawyers nation-wide. This organization requires members to have tried 50 personal injury cases to a jury conclusion and have obtained one or more $1 million verdicts, exclusive of interest, punitive damages and costs. During his legal career, Michaud lectured at numerous law schools, medical conventions and bar associations throughout the United States. He was a lecturer and instructor at the American Trial Lawyer's Association, National College of Advocacy and at Harvard Law School. He also authored a number of publications for various journals. Not only did Michaud excel in the legal field, but he earned national acclaim as a bridge player. In 1951, he paired with fellow Washburn Law student, Bradley Post, and won the national collegiate bridge championship. He went on to win numerous regional and national tournaments, earning enough duplicate bridge points to achieve the status of "life master" several times over. Selection to the U.S. National Team verified his status as one of the nation's premier bridge players. In 2004, he was honored by the Wichita Eagle as Wichita's All Time Greatest Bridge Player. Gerald was a believer in giving back to the community.  He wanted to leave the world a better place than he found it. He chose to do this many ways, outside of his legal battles. In the 1980s, Michaud and his law firm donated $1 million to the Washburn University School of Law to provide scholarships to law students and fund the Ahrens Tort Seminar, which are still in existence today. In 1990, Michaud married his soulmate, Shannon. Their love of art started a grand collection that later benefited the law school. Their donations benefited the law school campus with several bronze sculptures, including an eagle with a 24-foot wing span, and life-size renditions of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. These donations, along with many other philanthropic gifts, were Gerald's way of leaving the world a better place than he found it. Michaud continued practicing law in Wichita until his passing in July, 2005. The knowledge and guidance that he passed on to so many lawyers and the reputation and legal-style of Michaud will have an impact on the legal profession in Kansas for many years to come.