John E. Shamberg Awarded Phil Lewis Medal of Distinction (07-06)

July 2006


John E. Shamberg

The Phil Lewis Medal of Distinction recognizes individuals or organizations in Kansas who have performed outstanding and conspicuous service at the state, national, or international level in administration of justice, science, the arts, government, philosophy, law, or any other field offering relief or enrichment to others.

John E. Shamberg of Prairie Village is a veteran Kansas trial lawyer whose legal career has extended over a period of more than 60 years. He has devoted the greater part of his practice to the representation of persons sustaining severe personal injury or property damage as the result of negligent acts committed by others.

Shamberg has engaged in some groundbreaking cases during his legal career, including the case that abolished governmental immunity in Kansas. As a result the state and its subdivisions are now required to answer in damages to those who sustain injury as a result of the state's negligence. He also participated in a wide range of cases involving defective consumer products, the use of which resulted in injury. He successfully handled cases involving serious injury to small children who accidentally ingested a drain cleaner product and, through these efforts, forced the manufacturers to reduce the toxic nature of the product and to package their product in childproof containers. He was also lead counsel in the litigation of claims for the victims of the 1981 collapse of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel skywalks.

Throughout his long professional career, his main concern has been the area of litigation representing the rights of the disadvantaged and the underprivileged.

Although born in Fremont, Neb., Shamberg was raised in Hutchinson, where he attended the public school system. He graduated from Washburn University with his bachelor's degree and then his LL.B. from Washburn University School of Law in 1937. When former Kansas Gov. Walter A. Huxman was appointed a judge of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1939, he selected Shamberg as his first law clerk - a position he held until he was drafted into the Army in 1942.

Shamberg served four years during World War II, and he attained the rank of major. He was awarded the Bronze Star medal for his service in the Pacific Theater. He was also awarded the World War II Victory, Air, Philippine Liberation, Asiatic-Pacific Service, and American Service medals and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon.

In 1949 he resumed the practice of law in Kansas City, Kan. He is the co-founder and senior member of Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman Chtd., which has offices in Kansas City, Mo., and Overland Park. Shamberg served as personal counsel to Gov. Robert B. Docking in the 1970s.

Shamberg is a lifetime member of the Kansas Bar Association, where he served on the Board of Governors from 1969 to 1972 and 1980 to 1990 and was also a KBA Delegate to the American Bar Association from 1970 to 1972 and 1980 to 1990. He also served on the board of governors of the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. He was president of the Washburn Law School Association, where he headed a campaign to raise funds to build a new Washburn Law School Center after the former law school building was destroyed by the June 8, 1966, tornado; a fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers; and a member of the Kansas City Metropolitan, Johnson County, and Wyandotte County bar associations. He was a member of the Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission from 1985 to 1993.

Throughout his legal career Shamberg has received numerous awards, including the 1970 Washburn Law School Association Distinguished Service Award; the 1989 KBA Distinguished Service Award; the 1989 Arthur G. Hodgson Distinguished Service Award and the 2005 Humanitarian Award from the KTLA; the 1997 Dean of the Trial Bar Award from the KCMBA, he was the first Kansas-based lawyer to receive the award; and the 2000 Justinian Award from the Johnson County Bar Association. He was listed in "The Best Lawyers in America" from when it was first published in 1983 to 2000. In 1984, Washburn Law conferred Shamberg an honorary Doctor of Law degree.


July/August 2006 edition - Page 6

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