Tom Merriman, Esq. – Merriman Legal, LLC
Attorney Tom Merriman is the Managing Partner of Merriman Legal, LLC, a civil litigation law firm in Cleveland, Ohio, representing plaintiffs in personal injury and class action litigation.
Tom graduated magna cum laude and earned phi beta kappa honors while majoring in economics at the University of Notre Dame. Deferring his admission to Harvard Law School, Tom joined a community service program in Seattle to help transition former homeless adults into public housing.
At Harvard Law School, he achieved the rare grade of A+ in both Negotiation and Jurisprudence. Tom served as a teaching assistant to Harvard Law Professor Roger Fisher, the world-renowned negotiation expert and author of "Getting to Yes.” After graduating cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1988, Tom completed a judicial clerkship with the late honorable Frank J. Battisti, then chief judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. Tom then began working as a litigator for Hahn Loeser & Parks.
After graduating cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1988, Tom served a judicial clerkship with the late Honorable Frank J. Battisti, then chief judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. Tom then began working as a litigator for Hahn Loeser & Parks.
At age 29, Tom was named managing attorney of the Ohio Attorney General’s Cleveland office. Tom directed a team of over 70 assistant attorneys general, investigators, and support staff. Appointed to Attorney General Lee Fisher’s executive staff, Tom advised the attorney general on all major litigation and policy issues. At 31, Attorney General Fisher promoted Tom to deputy attorney general. He created and led multiple innovative law enforcement and litigation programs, including:
- The Consumer Fraud Strike Force used temporary restraining orders to immediately shut down and seize the assets of bogus charities, scam artists, and telemarketing boiler rooms before they could flee the state.
- Operation Windfall is believed to be the most successful fugitive sting operation in our nation's history. Profiled by The New York Times, the program secured the arrest of 1,100 fugitive felons by luring them to government offices to pick up a tax refund or settlement check.
- Operation Crackdown used nuisance abatement laws to close over 150 neighborhood drug houses. In 1994, the Council of State Government honored Operation Crackdown with its Innovation Award, recognizing its success in working with neighborhood redevelopment groups to transform "drug houses into dream houses" for low-income families.
After serving in government, Tom decided to become a watchdog of government. In 1995, he redirected his career into investigative journalism, first with WEWS-TV and then with WJW’s FOX8 I-Team. During his 14 years in Cleveland television, Tom won 37 Emmy Awards – more than any other reporter in the market during that time period. Some of his most notable work includes:
- Uncovering fraud in the Cleveland Municipal School District: Tom’s 25-part investigative series exposing fraud in the Cleveland Municipal School District's transportation department won the most coveted national honors in investigative journalism – the I.R.E. Medal from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Silver Baton, what Columbia describes as "the Pulitzer Prize of broadcast journalism."
- Exposing a Terrorist Fundraiser: In 2001, Tom produced a series of reports exposing Cleveland Imam Fawaz Damra's role as a fundraiser for the terrorist organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as Damra's ties to the original World Trade Center bombers. Damra was ultimately prosecuted and deported for lying on his citizenship application about his ties to terror organizations.
- Discovering the U.S. Military’s Role in Human Trafficking: In 2002, Tom led a hidden camera investigation in South Korea which documented U.S. military police protecting American soldiers frequenting establishments where trafficked women were held as sex slaves. The reports triggered a Department of Defense Inspector General investigation, Congressional hearings, and reform of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
- Revealing Extravagant Spending of Taxpayer Dollars: In 2003, Tom's investigation into wasteful spending at the taxpayer-funded Cleveland Convention & Visitor's Bureau triggered the resignation of its president and the dissolution of its board of directors.
In 2006, Tom served as an Ethics Fellow at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. That same year, Tom was profiled in a PBS documentary titled "The Best of Broadcast Journalism." Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the FOX8 I-Team, the station recently aired a report honoring Tom’s journalism career.
In 2009, armed with a broad range of skills and experience, Tom returned to the courtroom as a trial attorney. In 2019, he founded and became the Managing Partner of Merriman Legal, LLC. Tom has built an extensive record of successfully representing clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases. He also represented more than 290 people who lost eggs or embryos in the University Hospitals Fertility Center tragedy.
Tom serves as a Legal Analyst on WJW FOX 8 newscasts and hosts a segment called, “Case or Not a Case?” on New Day Cleveland. Tom was recently awarded his 38th Emmy Award for the news series, “Is it Legal?”