John M. O'Quinn

John M. O'Quinn  John M. O'Quinn (September 4, 1941 – October 29, 2009)  

was a Texas trial lawyer and founding partner of The O'Quinn Law Firm. Mr. O’Quinn shared his success through philanthropy and gave generously to many charitable causes, such as Texas Children's Hospital, Bridges to Life, Chinquapin College Preparatory School, and the University of Houston. He established The John M. O’Quinn Foundation in 1986, which focuses on helping children, public education and conservation.  Mr. O'Quinn was divorced and did not have any children.

Early Life

Born to Jean Wilkes and Leonard O’Quinn, John Maurice O'Quinn spent his early years in Baton Rouge, LA. The family moved to Houston when Mr. O’Quinn was a toddler, but his mother left the family when he was four years old and never returned. O'Quinn was raised in a post-war era bungalow in Houston's West University Place and worked in his father's car garage. He was a top student at Houston's Lamar High School, showing an aptitude in math and science.  He began college at Rice University, majoring in engineering; however, after being placed on academic probation for "three of the six semesters there", he spoke with a vocational counselor who recommended career testing to determine the best bet for his future. O'Quinn reflected, "After the test, I was told I was a people person.  That I liked to help people, fight for beliefs, and punish bullies.  They said I should be a trial lawyer."

O'Quinn enrolled that fall in the University of Houston Law Center, where he served as editor of the Houston Law Review and won a state moot court championship.  He graduated first in his class in 1967. O'Quinn was the first UH Law School graduate to be hired by the law firm of Baker Botts.  In 1999, the playing field at Robertson Stadium, now TCEDU Stadium, was named John O'Quinn Field in honor of O'Quinn's generosity and support of the stadium renovations.

Legal Career

O'Quinn quickly made his name handling plaintiff's litigation.  Among his biggest wins were a $1 billion verdict in 2006 against Wyeth Laboratory for its diet drug, fen-phen, a $17.3 billion tobacco settlement for the state of Texas, and a $100 million verdict against Down Corning for silicone breast implants.
In total, O'Quinn is estimated to have won through settlement and/or verdicts, more than $21 billion for his clients.


Honoring Mr. O'Quinn's legacy, the Foundation's predominant focus reflects his lifetime of support in education, healthcare, environment and the lives of underprivileged youth in Houston, Texas and the surrounding area.
THE JOHN M. O'QUINN FOUNDATION: P.O. Box 27501 | Houston, Texas 77227

John M. O'Quinn (1941-2009) established The John M. O’Quinn Foundation (the "Foundation") in 1986. With his death in 2009, Mr. O'Quinn willed his entire estate to the Foundation. As of March 31, 2022, the Foundation has awarded more than $148 million in grants.  Most of the funds have been given within the state of Texas with a special emphasis on Houston, Mr. O'Quinn's home since his youth. Although the Foundation supports a wide variety of charitable activities, i...