Barry Frank Evans of Hancock Park, CA, passed away peacefully on January 25, 2016 at the young age of 90 years. As a “giant” in the workers compensation legal community, he practiced as a defense attorney representing industry, employers and insurance companies in the defense of industrial injury claims before the Workers Compensation Appeals Board for over 60 years. During his many years of legal practice, he represented large self-insured employers [like Bethlehem Steel, Northrup Corporation and Bank of America], national insurance companies [such as Liberty Mutual , Home Insurance , Homeland Insurance, Fireman’s Fund, Industrial Indemnity; Republic Insurance Company , Tokio Marine and many more] in the California state workers compensation system; shipping and marine-based companies in the defense of Longshore & Harbor Workers’ claims; and esoteric claims under the Defense Base Act arising out of civil activities on military installations throughout the world, especially in the Middle East. For the last ten years of practice, Barry switched sides of the practice, with the urging of his partner, Mark Malter, and represented injured workers in California, for whom he had great compassion.
With respect to advanced educational training, Barry attended Harvard University from 1944 to 1947 as an undergraduate, receiving an Associate Bachelor’s degree. As an involved student, he was a member of Hasty Pudding [the theatrical group at Harvard], and participated in numerous productions. His class and peer group at Harvard included Jack Lemmon, Charlie Chaplin, and Robert Kennedy. At the same time, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1944 as an officer [Lieutenant JG] and served during World War II, remaining in the US Naval Reserves from 1946 through 1959. He attended Boston University School of Law from 1947 to 1949, graduating with an LLB in an accelerated law program. He was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar Association in 1949 and the California Bar in 1953.
His first major employment was with Employers’ Group Insurance Company in 1951 handling insurance claims, and then he commenced the practice of law in January 1953 with the firm of Herlihy & Herlihy in Los Angeles practicing Workers’ Compensation Defense. He later joined Willian T. Hays and John F. McLaughlin establishing a Workers’ Compensation Defense Firm.
Barry was a leader amongst his peers, joining the ranks of historic law firms in the industry. From his original position as an associate with the old firm of Herlihy & Herlihy, he then created his own firms of Hays, Laughlin & Evans, which then morphed into Laughlin, Evans, Dalbey & Cumming and then Evans, Dalbey & Cumming. Barry Evans, Blair Dalbey and Ray Cumming were partners for over 25 years before they brought in some younger attorneys, at which point the law firm developed into Evans, Cumming & Malter, and eventually Evans & Malter. During the growth of Evans, Cumming & Malter, the firm had five offices statewide [from San Diego to San Jose], with 27 attorneys and 89 support staff. Barry Evans was president of the California Workers Compensation Defense Association, and was a frequent speaker for major industry groups, such as California Manufactures Association, California Self-Insureds Association, and the IAIABC [International Association of Industrials Accident Boards and Commissions]. From 1977 through 1986, he authored and recorded audio books for a lecture series on legal developments in workers compensation with Eugene Marias of Rose, Klein & Marias, Charles Lawrence Swezey, and Melvin Witt [founder of the California Worker’s Compensation Reporter (CWCR) for CEB [California’s Continuing Education of the Bar]. Throughout his career, he presented and argued numerous cases before the Workers Compensation Appeals Board, the California Court of Appeal, and the California Supreme Court. It was not uncommon for Barry to be invited by various industry leaders to author amicus [“friend of the court”] briefs on major issues presented to the Supreme Court including the cases of Wilkinson [which established the proper rating of disability for successive injuries]; Hegglin and the cases that challenged the constitutionality of Labor Code Section 5500.5.
However, the lasting impact that Barry Evans has left to this world and upon our memories is not the legal results of his litigation prowess, but rather the depth of human contact with such a loving and caring man. Barry was honored and revered by many, but he was deeply loved by a special few: his dedicated wife, his very special children and grandchildren that he adored; his partner to whom he was like a father; his friends who will forever laugh at his jokes and remember his cherubic smile, and the many staff members for whom he cared and gave support. We know that Barry is in heaven looking down upon us all with a loving smile, and a chuckle under his breath.
He is survived by his loving wife of 67 years, Harriett Lillian Evans; children: Joan Mindy Fay and Neil C. Evans; his son David S. Evans predeceased him in 2001; and seven grandchildren: Elliott, Rachael, Andrew, Michael, Ashlyn, Brandon and Brooke.
A memorial service will be held at 12:00 noon, Friday, January 29, 2016, at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery located at 6001 West Centinela Avenue in Culver City, CA; and he shall be laid to rest next to his son, David Evans, and his daughter-in-law, Marsha Evans.