John M. Famularo, 68, an attorney and former Fayette district judge, died Friday.
Famularo spent much of his 40-plus-year career as a partner at Stites and Harbison in Lexington, where his practice focused on product liability cases, class-action defense and defending pharmaceutical companies, including OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma.
“He was a consummate trial lawyer,” said Fayette County Attorney Larry Roberts, who worked with Famularo as an assistant commonwealth’s attorney early in their careers. “The legal profession has lost a great lawyer.”
He said Famularo was known for defending doctors and hospitals against medical malpractice cases.
He also was general council for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lexington.
Famularo, who grew up in Mount Olivet, was born into a family of “great legal minds,” Roberts said.
His father, the late G. A. “Jerry” Famularo, spent more than three decades as Robertson County attorney before serving as a district and circuit judge.
His brother, Joseph Famularo, who died in 2002, was U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
John Famularo graduated from Loyola University and, in 1971, the University of Kentucky College of Law.
Two years later, as an assistant attorney general for the commonwealth, he successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in a boundary-dispute case that pitted Ohio against Kentucky.
Retired federal prosecutor Patrick Molloy was commonwealth’s attorney for Fayette County when he hired Famularo to join him as an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in the 1970s.
Molloy said Famularo and Roberts, and others in his office at the time, were a close-knit group who loved working together.
He said Famularo had a sharp legal mind but also a gullibility that made him the butt of Roberts’ practical jokes.
“He was smart as hell, so we weren’t too rough on him because we needed his brains,” Molloy said. “I can’t begin to tell you how much fun we had.”
Famularo, who went on to become a regent and state chairman for the American College of Trial Lawyers and served on the board of governors of the Kentucky Bar Association, was inducted into the UK College of Law Hall of Fame in June.
Famularo is survived by his wife of 45 years, Karen Famularo, and three children: son Michael Famularo of Cincinnati; daughter Kathryn Famularo Croghan of St. Louis; and daughter Amy Famularo of Covington, as well as three grandchildren.
A funeral Mass will be conducted at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Cathedral of Christ the King. Kerr Brothers Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.