Dallas Observer staff writer Thomas Korosec is this year's winner of the Philbin Award for newspaper coverage of legal issues in Dallas.
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Korosec won the $500 award for his January 9, 1997, cover story about plaintiff's attorney Brian Loncar, "Smash 'em and smile". The brash lawyer is well known in Dallas for his television ads, which featured Loncar driving a tank over a car and declaring he is a lawyer who will "fight for you."
Korosec dug deeply into Loncar's practice and uncovered a lawsuit mill where untrained, underpaid office staff churn lawsuits.
The article prompted Loncar to send his workers around Dallas scooping up as many copies of the offending Observers as possible, presumably to keep them out of readers' hands. As a result, Loncar was charged with criminal mischief. The case is pending.
The Philbin Award is named for Stephen Philbin, a media lawyer who died in 1982. The award is given to reporters in newspaper, radio, television, and magazine categories. This year, the Observer was allowed to compete against The Dallas Morning News in the newspaper division. The selection was made by a panel of judges named by the media committee of the Dallas Bar.