Frank Gilkison Jr. 2014 Indiana Bar Foundation Legendary Lawyer
Muncie attorney stood up for wronged and injured individuals for more than half a century
See photos of celebration here!
INDIANAPOLIS – Among the almost unknown number of county employees who have served Hoosiers in modest, cramped offices across Indiana, attorney Frank E. Gilkison Jr. became legendary more than 50 years ago. In June, he’ll be named an official Legendary Lawyer by the Indiana Bar Foundation for just the kind of dedicated work he performed for those government employees.
The annual Legendary Lawyer Award recognizes an Indiana Bar Foundation Fellow who demonstrates adherence to the highest principles and traditions of the legal profession along with compassion through community service over a legal career of 50 years or more.
Gilkison serves in the position “Of Counsel” at the law firm Beasley & Gilkison in Muncie.
In her nomination letter, Delaware County Deputy Prosecutor Judi Calhoun, said Gilkison embodies all the award stands for.
“Whether standing up for injured victims or wronged county employees, one gets the distinct impression that you would want an attorney like Frank Gilkison on your side,” Calhoun wrote.
Helping county employees win against the state
Calhoun refers to three of Gilkison’s most significant cases. It was State of Indiana v. King, 413 N.E.2d 1016 (Ind. Ct. App. 1980), where Gilkison become a hero to the people then known as county welfare workers.
From their inception in the 1930s, Indiana’s county welfare agencies were locally controlled and funded, Gilkison said, until the merit pay system for state workers began including these county employees. After pressure to reduce the budget in the 1950s, Gilkison said, the state succumbed and singled out these particular county workers for lower pay at the same jobs.
A judge got Gilkison interested in the case. This started a 12-year process of filings, reassignments, transfers, appeals, a class action lawsuit and “a lot of calculations,” Gilkison said.
“We had to get information on every employee who had worked in the past 15 years: Who they were, how many hours they had worked, how much they had gotten paid and how much they should have gotten paid. This was before the computers we have today,” he said.
Eventually, in March 1982, the court awarded about $18.2 million to be distributed among employees from the previous 15 years.
Gilkison also played a key role in the 1979 case that accused 150 beer wholesalers of illegally controlling sales territories to block competition. The Court dismissed the charges against most defendants after three weeks of trial, leaving nine to stand trial for damages. The jury awarded no damages on any count.
The cases illustrate why Gilkison’s best advice to young lawyers is to stay by the phone.
“Don’t loaf in the courthouse. Stay in your office, and when the phone rings with a good case, you’ll be there to take i