Background & motivation
Renée Melançon has made it her life’s work to represent people who have been harmed by contaminants in the environment, most recently workers and their family members who have developed cancer from exposure to asbestos. Through her diverse practice, she has had extensive experience in toxic torts, mass torts, multi-district litigation, and complex litigation.
Renée has chosen to pursue her career representing those who have developed mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers at Dean Omar & Branham because this firm has the resources, talent, and tenacity to zealously represent those who have been harmed. The lawyers and support staff here truly believe in what they do and dedicate tremendous energy to pursue justice for our clients.
Renée has successfully defended on appeal several multi-million dollar verdicts on behalf of individuals who were afflicted with asbestos-related diseases. She has prevailed on appeals in supreme and intermediate courts across the country, and in 2008 she won a case before the Louisiana Supreme Court, whose opinion remains one of the most cited and relied-upon rulings on asbestos in that state.
In 2017 Renée was named to “The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100,” an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from across the country. Renée was among a team of lawyers who received the 2006 “Trial Lawyer of the Year” award from Trial Lawyers for Public Justice for her work seeking redress for more than 1600 residents who were injured by contaminated groundwater in Tucson, Arizona. She has been named a “Rising Star of Texas Law” by Texas Super Lawyers and Texas Monthly magazine, a distinction awarded to less than 5% of Texas lawyers under the age of 40.
In addition to her work at the firm, Renée lectures at legal seminars, and in 2012 she gave a presentation on legal issues in asbestos litigation at Harvard Medical School. Her devotion to helping those in need extends beyond her legal practice. For example, she represented victims of the 9/11 attacks as a member of Trial Lawyers Care, Inc., a non-profit organization established by the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, and she volunteered in a program which helped Hurricane Katrina evacuees relocate to Dallas.
Renée graduated law school Magna Cum Laude and Order of the Coif. Her law review note has been cited by the United States Supreme Court. While in law school, she received an honor for mentoring other students and served on a committee to help interview and select future law professors.
After law school Renée had the honor of clerking for the Honorable Martha Craig Daughtrey of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and for the Honorable Robert E. Jones of the United States District Court for the District of Oregon.
Renée’s interest in helping others began well before her practice of law. At the same time that she was in law school, Renée was also studying psychology and public policy in graduate school, and she was the lead graduate researcher overseeing a large federally-funded research project on women in the workplace.
Before attending law school and graduate school, Renée lived in Asia and Europe, where she volunteered with nonprofit organizations focusing on women’s rights and environmental issues in developing countries. As she explains, “My work at Dean Omar & Branham is a natural extension of my lifelong interest in pursuing justice for others.”
University of Arizona (J.D. 1997), Arizona Law Review Magna Cum Laude, Order of the Coif
University of Arizona (M.S. 1997)
University of Florida (B.S. 1992), Cum Laude
Bar & Court Admissions
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Publications, Presentations, and Reported decisions
Co-author, Toxic Torts and Mass Torts in Survey of Developments in Texas Law, 61 SMU L. REV. 1155 (2008)
Author, Arizona’s Insane Response to Insanity, 40 ARIZ. L. REV. 287 (1998), cited in Clark v. Arizona, 548 U.S. 735 (2006)
Co-Author, Explaining Sexual Harassment Judgments: Looking Beyond Gender of the Rater, 28(1) LAW & HUM. BEHAV. 69 (2004)
Author, Women and the Environment: Interview with Dr. Azizan Baharuddin, 54(2) MALAYSIA NATURALIST (2000)
Co-author, The Utility of the Reasonable Woman Legal Standard in Environment Sexual Harassment Cases: A Multimethod, Multistudy Examination, 5 PSYCHOL. PUB. POL’Y & L. 596 (1999)
Startley v. Welco Manufacturing Company, 78 N.E.3d 639 (Ill. App. 1 Dist.), appeal denied89 N.E.3d 764 (Ill. 2017)
Hegwood v. DSM Copolymer, Inc., No. 10-145, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128424, 2010 WL 5018259 (M.D. La. Dec. 2, 2010)
General Motors Corp. v. Grenier, 981 A.2d 531 (Del. 2009)
Rando v. Anco Insulations,16 So. 3d 1065 (La. 2009)
Spillman v. Anco Insulations, 994 So. 2d 132 (La. App. 1 Cir. 2008), writ denied, 18 So. 3d 93 (La. 2009)
Norris v. Crane Co., B196031, 2008 WL 638361 (Cal. App. 2 Dist. Mar. 11, 2008)
Abram v. EPEC Oil Co., 936 So. 2d 209 (La. App. 4 Cir. 2006), writ denied, 942 So. 2d 537 (La. 2006)
Thomas v. A.P. Green Industries, 933 So. 2d 843 (La. App. 4 Cir. 2006)