Cleveland State University Law Alumni Association Alumni of the Year recipient Frank L. Gallucci III ’00, Principal of Plevin & Gallucci Company, L.P.A., began examining the national opioid crisis in 2017 after seeing a constant stream of news stories of deaths due to opioid overdose. He concluded the root of the issue was not the individuals addicted to opioids but the actions of irresponsible corporations plaguing the community. His firm met with local government officials to understand how the epidemic was impacting their cities and counties on several levels and eventually took on approximately 20 cities and counties as clients.
Gallucci was a key member of the trial team representing Lake and Trumbull Counties in U.S. District Court in the nation’s first trial attempting to hold pharmacies responsible for their role in the deadly crisis. Gallucci served on the trial team with other leading plaintiffs in the bellwether case that resulted in the first national verdict by a jury in the opioid litigation against pharmaceutical companies that had allowed millions of opioid pills to be distributed in Ohio counties. Gallucci’s team prevailed in the liability phase of the trial against CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart and were able to obtain settlements with Rite Aid and Giant Eagle, ultimately obtaining a verdict of $650.6 million for Lake County and Trumbull County. (That verdict is currently on appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.) Gallucci has also represented Cuyahoga and Summit Counties in settlements with drug manufacturers and distributors.
“What we have here with these trials is an opportunity,” explained Gallucci. “The opportunity to literally prevent more people from dying by getting the message out and getting people the resources they need are a big part of accomplishing that. These rulings allow the defendants that bear responsibility to see that their actions are not going to go unchecked and that their behavior is going to have consequences.”
Gallucci never imagined he would be working on something of such national consequence when he graduated from Cleveland State University College of Law. Gallucci saw firsthand the importance of this work from his idol and father, Frank L. Gallucci Jr. ’70, a solo practitioner who worked primarily on worker’s compensation cases along with personal injury work. Gallucci Jr. passed away at the age of 51 and Gallucci III took over leadership of his father’s solo practice at the age of 20. He was able to rely heavily on the friends and mentors he developed during his time at CSU|LAW.
“CSU|LAW was there for me at a time when things in life were not easy,” recalled Gallucci. “I had recently lost my father and 18 months later was starting law school, trying to work, and helping figure out how our family would move forward. The CSU|LAW faculty, administration and students were welcoming, highly skilled, and prepared me with the necessary tools to succeed.”
Taking over his father’s practice at a young age, Gallucci’s philosophy on how to run the practice was shaped by clients and staff already in place as well as attorneys and professors who were generous with their time and taking him under their wing.
Early in his legal career, Gallucci was part of the trial team for the State of Ohio in the Sam Sheppard case, one of the most sensational trials of the 20th century and the story that gave rise to the movie The Fugitive. But the majority of Gallucci’s work has been and continues to be plaintiff injury cases and he is extremely proud that the Plevin & Gallucci, formed when Frank partnered with his longtime friend and mentor, CSU C|M|LAW Hall of Fame member Leon Plevin ’57, continues to grow year after year, serving more clients and developing more relationships with members of the community.
“I believe my dad would be proud of the work we are doing today,” said Gallucci. “The firm still carries on the same fundamental principle of focusing on the individual. We are certainly not a solo practice anymore, but we are still doing the same work helping people when something terrible happens. It is rewarding when someone comes to you after something worse than they could have even imagined has occurred and they are able to trust you and your firm to get them through it.”
Gallucci is also carrying on his father’s legacy as a CSU|LAW graduate and works alongside graduates of the law school every day in his practice. He believes the comradery among CSU|LAW graduates is second-to-none and unique among law schools. Running a legal practice at a young age, Gallucci relied heavily on the generosity and advice of CSU|LAW graduates and that continues to this day. He is now also one of the prominent attorneys offering assistance to CSU C|M|LAW students and alumni, in part as a participant in the Cleveland-Marshall Law Alumni Association Mentor Program.
Gallucci feels it is important for lawyers to be active within the legal community and the community-at-large throughout their careers. In addition to giving back to CSU|LAW, he has served as President of the Council of Presidents of the American Association for Justice and is Past President of the Ohio Association for Justice, where he was the youngest president in the organization’s history. He also actively serves on the Governing Board of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and on the Board of Make-A-Wish, Ohio Kentucky & Indiana and the Board of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.
What does being named CSULAA Alumni of the Year mean to you?
“It is humbling to receive this honor knowing how many graduates of our law school do incredible work day-in and day-out on behalf of their clients and community. I am receiving the credit and recognition for the hard work of everyone at Plevin & Gallucci, many of whom are also CSU|LAW graduates.”