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Robert W. Munley Jr.


1930 - 2019
Robert W. Munley Jr. Obituary
Robert W. Munley Jr., 89, founder of Munley Law, a renowned Pennsylvania legal figure and courtroom trial law pioneer, passed away peacefully on Saturday. He was the son of the late Pennsylvania state Representatives Robert W. Munley and Marion Langan Munley, who succeeded her husband, served nine terms after his death in 1947, and became the first female officer of the Pennsylvania State Legislature. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Bernadine Munley.

A United States Army veteran of the Korean War, Bob graduated from the University of Scranton and Temple University School of Law, where he was a member of the Temple Law Review.

Bob was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in 1959. He served as an assistant district attorney in Lackawanna County for 10 years, during which time he prosecuted hundreds of cases, including homicides.

In 1970, he embarked on full-time private practice, with his brother, now Senior U.S. District Judge James M. Munley, initially handling criminal defense, including collaborations with F. Lee Bailey in high-profile homicide cases. In the mid-1970s Munley transitioned to a civil practice.

Renowned for his courtroom rhetorical skills, Bob blazed new trails in emerging liability theories and trial techniques and brought hundreds of cases to verdict. Bob's pace-setting milestones included seven- and eight- figure recoveries before verdicts of such size were commonplace and occurred in cases ranging from simple automobile collisions to complex product liability litigation.

Bob's body of work resulted in appellate decisions, some of which transformed American law in the area of the admissibility of trial evidence. For example: Mecca v. Lukasik, known locally as "the Mid-Valley Eight," set the Pennsylvania standard for evidence of future earnings of children based on their stated career aspirations; O'Malley v. Peerless Petroleum also broke ground in the area of future wage loss recovery and use of hypothetical questions with experts. Madjic v. Cincinnati Machine Co., a product liability case, is regularly cited in court decisions around the United States for various evidentiary principles, and his case Bombar v. Upright Material Handling Inc. set nationally recognized standards in what constitutes bad faith in the handling of insurance claims.

Bob was elected and served as president of both the Lackawanna County Bar Association and the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association and served on the Board of Governors of the American Association for Justice. He was listed in the Best Lawyers in America every year since 1993, and was among the first lawyers in the United States to earn Board Certification by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He was a Fellow of both the American Board of Trial Advocates and the International Society of Barristers, and was named to the Irish Voice newspaper's Irish Legal 100, the top 100 American lawyers of Irish descent.

In addition to his professional accomplishments, Bob's life was marked by an unwavering commitment to the community. He endowed scholarships at the University of Scranton, Marywood University and Vermont's Landmark College, for students pursuing careers in law. He spearheaded the Hoban Lecture Series and the Schemel Forum, which feature renowned speakers on world affairs and international law. His charity was unflagging, as an ardent supporter of Lackawanna Pro Bono, the Friends of the Poor and many other charities. Long active with the Boy Scouts of America, Bob was a recipient of the Silver Beaver, its highest volunteer award.

Lackawanna Pro Bono established the Robert W. Munley Distinguished Service Award in his name, in recognition of his pro bono services to impoverished individuals without the means to hire a lawyer. The award honors individuals and organizations that show exceptional commitment to service. In addition, the University of Scranton conferred on him its Frank O'Hara Distinguished Alumni Award, honoring select alumni who have achieved distinction in their professional or personal endeavors.

Also surviving are his brother, Senior U.S. District Judge James M. Munley (Dr. Kathleen Munley); his children, Marion Munley (U.S. Rep. Matthew Cartwright), Bernadine Munley, Robert W. Munley III (Lora Pazzaglia), Daniel W. Munley (Valerie Jarusik), Christopher Munley (Dr. Maria Yager) and Caroline Munley (Edward Mullin); and grandchildren, Jack and Matthew Cartwright Jr., Luigi, Vanessa, Nico and Noah Munley, Daniel, Grace and Robert Munley, Audrey and Jake Munley, and Bernadine and Lydia Mullin; and nieces and nephews, including Judge Julia Munley (Patrick Rogan) and Gwendolyn Munley (Shawn McQueeney).

The funeral will be Thursday at 10:30 a.m. from the Harrison Funeral Home, 374 N. Main St., Archbald, with Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. in St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Archbald, to be celebrated by the Rev. James Alco. Friends attending are asked to go directly to the church. Interment will be private at the convenience of the family in St. Thomas Aquinas Cemetery.

Friends may call Wednesday, 1 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m., at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Lackawanna Pro Bono, 233 Penn Ave., Scranton PA 18503.

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Published in Scranton Times on Dec. 2, 2019
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