San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Chronicle

To a layman, a personal-injury lawyer is the guy you hire when you fall on somebody's sidewalk or when someone plows into you in a car.

And that's true. But at perhaps the pre-eminent personal-injury firm in the Bay Area -- Walkup, Melodia, Kelly and Schoenberger, widely referred to as the Walkup Firm -- the field of personal injury law includes consumer protection, product liability, medical malpractice, wrongful death, vehicle and aviation accidents, workplace injuries, and insurance company disputes.

As head of the firm, Paul Melodia, 63, has had a hand in hundreds of trials and arbitrations. A plaintiffs attorney, his specialty is medical litigation, from malpractice to drug and product liability. Since joining the office in 1967, he has successfully brought lawsuits against the makers of the Ortho-Novum pill, Dalkon Shield IUDs, swine flu vaccine and L-Tryptophan. Although the cases were brought on behalf of individuals rather than as class-action suits, revelations about the products' dangers have affected thousands of consumers.

"I like the cases that have social significance," he says.

The son of a cab driver and a stay-at-home mom, Melodia grew up in North Beach. He got his bachelor and law degrees from UC Berkeley. He lives in Pacific Heights.

--San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, May 4, 2003