Local Obituaries

Andrew Hall, Miami attorney for families of sailors killed in USS Cole bombing, dies at 75

Andrew Hall and his wife, Gail Sloane Meyers, on their boat in the Hamptons.
Andrew Hall and his wife, Gail Sloane Meyers, on their boat in the Hamptons.

In April 2016, Miami attorney Andrew Hall joined his co-chairs on the board of the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach to design and bring to life a phone app that documented the stories of the last surviving Holocaust victims living in South Florida.

Creating the app, which has been translated into seven languages and gives the memorial’s visitors access to first-person testimonies, fulfilled both an educational as well as a deeply personal purpose for Hall, who was a baby when his family fled Nazi-occupied Poland.

“We are dying,” Hall’s older brother Allan Hall said when the tool was first rolled out. “The app will speak for us long after we are gone.”

After suffering symptoms from colitis for several months, Hall passed away in his home Monday on his 75th birthday.

“To his adversaries in court, he was a bulldog and usually won,” his son and law partner, Adam Hall, said in a statement. “To our family, Dad was our rock.”

The story of the so-called “Anti-Terror Attorney” Andrzej Czeslaw Horowitz, Hall’s name at birth, has been well-documented in newspapers and law journals at the national level — of how his mother gave birth to him in a cold Warsaw cellar without doctors or basic care on Sept. 16, 1944; of how he developed pneumonia within days of being born; of how his parents risked a narrow escape through sewers all the way to Germany.

After his parents fled to New York City and later to Miami in 1952, Hall began his college career to become a doctor at the University of Florida. He later discovered his calling in the field of law. One of his early cases was to defend John Ehrlichman, adviser to President Richard Nixon on domestic affairs, during the Watergate trial.

“He never cared about politics. He cared about justice and protecting justice and he cared about righting wrongs,” said Aaron Podhurst, a prominent South Florida attorney who met Hall shortly after he arrived in Florida. Podhurst later worked with Hall on multiple cases, and the two quickly became close friends.

But it was his later work in representing the families of 17 American sailors who were killed in the al-Qaida bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 that earned him the reputation of a tenacious fighter for justice. In that case, one of the most consequential of his career, the families were awarded a $314.7 million judgment.

Hall then won court orders forcing banks to turn over Sudanese assets to help cover the judgment. The victims’ families, including some of the 39 injured, had sued Sudan, saying it had supported al-Qaida in the bombing.

“He never gave up and he never let these families down, and he led the way and righted these injustices,” Podhurst said in an interview with the Miami Herald. “He dedicated himself to fighting injustice all of this time because he was a victim of injustice.”

Hall also served as chair of the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach, and volunteered time and pro-bono legal work for the Pérez Art Museum Miami.

“He had kind of a larger-than-life presence,” said Jacob Solomon, CEO and president of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. “He was drawn to issues that maybe were less popular or less obvious. He really had a passion for the underdog and I really think his whole life probably including the courtroom was driven by a passion for justice.”

Hall is survived by his wife, Gail Sloane Meyers; his children Adam Hall, Michael Hall, Hilary Azrael and Kathryn A. Meyers; six grandchildren; and his brother Allan Hall.

“At each turn of my life, I have found that my fate and the fate of others fell into the hands of a single person,” Hall said in a 2011 speech at the Jewish Museum of Florida. “The courage and perseverance of that person became the difference between life and death during my earliest years and the difference between justice and injustice during my legal career.”

Funeral services will take place at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, at Temple Judea in Coral Gables, 5500 Granada Blvd. A burial service will follow at Lakeside Memorial Park, 10301 NW 25th St. in Doral.

In lieu of flowers, the public is asked to consider making a donation to the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach, Temple Judea of Coral Gables, and/or the American Jewish Committee (AJC) of Miami-Dade and Broward County.