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John Douglas ("Dugan") Barr ’64

November 28, 2019, in Redding, California, in his sleep.

A bulldog in the courtroom, Dugan was more like a gentle giant to the clients he represented. The renowned personal injury attorney and his business partner, Doug Mudford, represented 22% of the patients in one of several lawsuits filed against Redding Medical Center—the former name of Shasta Regional Medical Center. Plaintiffs claimed that doctors at the hospital performed unnecessary open-heart surgery on hundreds of patients. The hospital owners paid $395 million in a 2005 settlement, and the doctors settled for $24 million.

“Dugan was the smartest person that I’ve ever met—not just the smartest lawyer, but the smartest person,” his law partner Doug Mudford said. “There never was a case that he felt he couldn’t handle. Working with him was truly amazing because it was fun to watch his brain work.”

The son of a Siskiyou superior court judge, John acquired the nickname “Dugan” to distinguish him from his father, also named John. He was raised in Yreka and attended Reed, where he wrote his thesis, “The Natural Allies: The Papers of Baron von Holstein and the Alliance Negotiations Between England and Germany, 1898–1901,” advised by Prof. Frank Smith Fussner [history 1950–75]. At Reed, he met his first wife, Candace Cudlip Camp ’65. The couple had two children, Ben and Carin, and later divorced.

Dugan earned a law degree from the University of Chicago, but felt he couldn’t return to Yreka to set up a law practice while his father was still a judge in Siskiyou County. He began practicing law in Redding and in 1973 set up his own practice.

Brandon Storment, who joined Barr & Mudford in 2018, remembered that Dugan’s “take-no-prisoners” courtroom style hid his teddy-bear personality. 

“In the courtroom, as an advocate, he was very tough. He worked very hard on behalf of his clients, but personally he was a very sweet man,” Storment said. “Everybody knew Dugan and had a story about him. It seems like he’d helped everybody or their mom or their grandma, because he really cared about people.”

This year, Dugan sued the city of Redding and the California Department of Transportation on behalf of more than 400 people affected by the 2018 Carr Fire, which burned 229,651 acres and destroyed 1,079 homes. The case is ongoing.

Dugan and his wife Terry were active in the community and were honored at the 2014 State of the City luncheon for their philanthropy. He sometimes charged less for those who couldn’t afford his services or asked for no fee at all. A successful businessman besides his law firm, Dugan was active in Democratic Party politics and enjoyed both a state and national reputation. In 2005, he was named Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Sacramento Valley chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates; he was also a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.

“He’s probably tried more personal injury cases than anybody in town,” said Redding attorney Joe Gazzigli. “Dugan had the ability to relate well with people. Most jurors liked him.”

Dugan is survived by his wife, Terry; his daughters, Catie Barr, Carin Barr, and Erin Zepeda; and his son, Ben Barr.

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2020

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