Managing partner Kevin Renfro is no stranger to the turmoil caused when a family member becomes seriously injured. Kevin was a toddler when his father, who built tractors to support his wife and their four young sons, lost his index finger in a workplace accident. The impact on his blue-collar family was immediate and left a lasting impression on him that, in many ways, informed him as a professional. “It was a real hardship on my family,” says Kevin, who has been practicing law since he was 23 years old, fresh out of law school. “Here was my mother trying to support four children while my father was unable to work. My parents had to eventually declare bankruptcy…it was difficult.”
So it’s no surprise that it was his father who immediately sprang to mind so many years later when a man who lost a finger in a workplace accident with a punch press walked through the door seeking legal help. To Kevin, it was finally his chance to do for a similarly hardworking person what nobody had been able to do for his own father; namely, to save his client from the type of financial hardship his own family suffered years earlier.
“He was a tool- and die-maker at a automobile manufacturer,” Kevin says. “He had a flat-top and work shoes with white socks and a greasy rag in his pocket. And it was just like representing my dad. It was my privilege to obtain a recovery for him and his family.” For Kevin, representing these types of hardworking individuals and their families is what comes naturally. “Those are the people I know best, because that’s how I grew up,” he says. “I have no false illusions about life’s joys or hardships because I’ve experienced both.”
Kevin joined Gary Becker – the first plaintiffs’ attorney in the area to advertise on television – as a young lawyer who was getting his career off the ground with a general civil practice. “Before I went to work for Gary, I was doing a little bit of everything except criminal matters,” says Kevin, who worked as a janitor and at other jobs to help put himself through college and law school. “By the time I joined the firm, I’d tried a couple of cases, and it was a good foundation for the personal injury work that I’ve been doing ever since.” In its early days, says Kevin, he, Gary and the firm’s two other associates had to litigate nearly every case that came through the door. “It was a long process of earning our respect from the defense bar and the insurance companies,” he says. “Part of the reason we exist today is so people understand that they can make a claim, and that there is a door open to the courthouse for them.”
Today, Kevin Renfro manages Becker Law’s day-to-day operations, handling each case before it is filed in court, and attempting to get a fair settlement for his clients as soon as possible, even before the case is filed. Kevin does this with nearly every case the firm takes on – from automobile collision and premises liability cases to products liability and nursing home abuse. For Kevin, the work is about two things: leveling the playing field for regular people against large corporations with unlimited resources, and making sure the big-picture impact of the firm’s cases is felt.
“For instance, one of our recent cases changed the law in slip and fall cases,” Kevin says, referring to the McIntosh case that went to the Kentucky Supreme Court. “That case allowed our client to get to the jury where, based on previous laws regarding an ‘open and obvious’ hazard, cases were simply dismissed by the judge. We’re proud that our work can have that kind of impact.”
In another case, Kevin represented a family whose infant was paralyzed in a low-speed car crash. While the child was properly restrained behind the driver, a stack of schoolbooks entered the passenger compartment through the trunk in the collision, pushing the car seat into the back of the driver’s seat and crushing the child. “In the model year before this car, there was a piece of welded sheet metal to protect the passenger compartment from the trunk of the car,” Kevin says. “In the model the accident happened in, the manufacturer wanted to save $225 and that sheet metal had been removed. Had it been left intact, this child would have been saved from a permanent injury to his spinal cord.”
While Kevin obtained a recovery for his client, the bigger victory just might be that it prompted the carmaker to add the sheet metal back to subsequent models of the vehicle – potentially saving others from injury. “The case illustrates that big businesses all too often put profits ahead of safety,” he says. “The only thing they understand is money. So if what we do hits them in the pocketbook, it finally gets their attention. For my clients, all I can do is try to secure monetary compensation in the face of grievous injury, which isn’t adequate for what they’ve had to go through. But it’s the best our system of justice will allow – and so I take that mission very seriously.”
Kevin is as committed to the legal profession itself as he is to the clients he serves, and his dedication has not gone unnoticed by his peers. He holds an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and is a part of The Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a group of attorneys who have won million- and multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements for their clients. His frequent lecturing and mentoring of other plaintiffs’ lawyers in Kentucky and Indiana has twice garnered him the Outstanding Board Member of the Kentucky Justice Association, an organization devoted to protecting the right to trial by jury and protecting consumers and victims from injury due to corporate neglect. He is also active in the community he serves; the father of school-aged children, Kevin started a “Don’t Text and Drive” campaign – complete with billboards displayed at local high schools – after his daughter received her driving permit.
Kevin earned his BA in just three years from the University of Louisville and his JD from the University of Louisville School of Law. “It’s really gratifying to have my job,” he says. “If there’s something I can do to help someone put their life back together after an injury or a tragedy they’ve suffered, I’ll do it. It’s my honor.”