SWMW Law, one of the top plaintiffs law firms in the country focused on representing victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, as well as individuals harmed by consumer fraud, drugs and medical devices, catastrophic injury, and environmental and toxic exposures, is proud to announce Partner Sophie Zavaglia has been recognized by Missouri Lawyers Weekly as a 2024 Missouri Lawyers Awards recipient in the Legal Champion category.
“As a firm that primarily represents victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, every client we meet is looking for a champion,” said Member Lauren Williams. “They’re not just looking for an attorney – they’re looking for someone they can trust to stay with the case and fight on their behalf when they no longer can. Someone who will appreciate what’s at stake for the family they’re leaving behind with the courage to look at the seemingly insurmountable battle in front of them and remain undeterred, knowing the importance of righting the wrong that will inevitably take their client’s life. For the family of Sarah Krentz, they found all that and more in Sophie. She is more than deserving of this award and we are proud to have her on our team.”
Zavaglia was only a few years out of law school when she was assigned to Krentz’s case. At the time, she had no idea what she was up against or the adversity she would face. But after 8 years, 2 jurisdictions, and countless obstacles from the defense, she proved to be the champion that Krentz and her family deserved when the case concluded earlier this year with a $9.7 million trial verdict. Krentz died from mesothelioma in 2019 at only 39-years-old, leaving behind a husband and young son.
The verdict not only gave Krentz’s family the justice they deserved, it unequivocally showed that injuries suffered by women matter, especially when it comes to mesothelioma, and that there is still much work to be done in overcoming the gender stereotypes still prevalent both in society and the judicial system.
News of Zavaglia’s victory reverberated throughout the legal community on both sides of the aisle, with several attorneys remarking on the tactics used by her opposition, her ironclad arguments on behalf of Krentz, and the hard-fought battle she overcame. The case was also cited during a presentation given by another firm during the HarrisMartin Asbestos Conference.
Zavaglia’s ability to be a ‘legal champion’ isn’t limited to the courtroom. Her advocacy for mesothelioma victims has also taken her to Jefferson City, where she connects with legislators and the judiciary at the State Capitol to protect clients’ 7th Amendment rights. Locally, she was involved in the St. Louis Demolition Task Force, a group working to change the city’s rules and regulations when it comes to demolishing older buildings to strengthen asbestos abatement policies and further protect residents from exposure.
Zavaglia joined the firm as an associate in 2014 and was promoted to partner in 2020. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from George Washington University and recived her J.D. from Saint Louis University School of Law.
The Missouri Lawyers Awards are given to attorneys who made a substantial impact in the past year. The Legal Champion category specifically recognizes attorneys, both defense and plaintiffs, not based on the size of the verdicts they’ve secured, but on the importance of the principle or policy at stake. This year’s honorees will be recognized during an awards reception Feb. 15, as well as in a special section of Missouri Lawyers Weekly.
To view a full list of this year’s honorees, visit the Missouri Lawyers Weekly website here.