Recommended For YouPowered by SailThru

"You shouldn't mistake his kindness for weakness," Richard Rampell says.
"You shouldn't mistake his kindness for weakness," Richard Rampell says.

Bullet Bob

It was ten 'til five on a Wednesday evening when Lisa Sanchez's supervisor at the State Farm office in West Palm Beach asked for a volunteer to drop off some documents. The stop was on her way home, so Sanchez, a personal injury adjuster, raised her hand. She had no idea that waiting for her at the law office on Clearwater Place was the verbal version of a behind-the-barn belt-whipping.

She got to the address just after 5 o'clock on November 19, 2001, and not long after, a lawyer strode into the lobby. She recognized him instantly. He was Robert Montgomery, the man whose silvery Southern drawl narrates public service announcements on just about every TV and radio station in town. In the most recent of those ads, Montgomery urges folks to check in on their loved ones at nursing homes. He has a compassionate voice and an appearance that matches it, with his trademark suspenders and earth-tone suits. Two months shy of 75, his thin hair is slicked to the side, and he wears a pair of wire-rimmed glasses that look as if they may have graduated law school with him. He looks sort of handsome, a whole lot distinguished, and -- for anybody who's never had professional dealings with him -- a good helping of grandfatherly.

Sanchez held an envelope in front of her. In it was a check to settle a case that had dragged on for a few months. It began when 91-year-old Souren Karagosian backed into Carol Green two months earlier in a Publix parking lot. Karagosian pinned Green to her car and shattered her pelvis. Montgomery's firm demanded a settlement of $100,000, the full amount allowed under Karagosian's policy with State Farm. After more than a month of insurance adjusters' delaying the settlement, Montgomery's firm gave State Farm an ultimatum: Pay by 5 o'clock November 19, 2001, or face a lawsuit. Sanchez claims she didn't even know the check was late, and she expected nothing more than to hand it over and go home. Green would be compensated for her painful injury, and Montgomery would be $33,000 richer.

Instead, she faced the wrath of Bob Montgomery. "You are 12 minutes late," he said to her. "I ain't taking your check. You had till 5 o'clock, and I'm sick of y'all trying to jerk us around."

Sanchez stood there in shock, saying nothing. Montgomery lashed into her for several minutes before kicking her out of his office. He told her to take her check with her. "He was extremely hostile and berating me," Sanchez recalled later in a deposition. "I was quite taken aback because people don't usually speak to me in that way... I'll never forget how he treated me."

What Sanchez saw that day was the dark side of Bob Montgomery. For most who know anything about him, Montgomery is a Southern gentleman who has made a name for himself as a benefactor of the arts and social causes. One estimate guesses his charitable contributions at $100 million. He supports orphanages, the Palm Beach Opera, and the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts.

The breadth of Montgomery's philanthropy was brightly illustrated recently when the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art shut down in March after six years of cutting-edge exhibitions and sputtering support from its Palm Beach community. Montgomery and his wife, Mary, had almost single-handedly kept the place afloat, pouring about $8.5 million into the museum as entire weekends passed with as few as five customers bothering to visit the stylish art deco building.

But Bob Montgomery's big-hearted philanthropy and sweet public demeanor hide what is, by many accounts, a raging temper, wielded like a dagger during anything from cross-examinations to intraoffice disputes with his partners. Colleagues say he controls that wrath, waiting for his enemies to misjudge him. "You shouldn't mistake his kindness for weakness," says Richard Rampell, who has been Montgomery's accountant since 1977. "I think some people do, and he knows how to exploit that." His verbal attacks have earned him a fitting nickname: Bullet Bob.

His list of famous cases is long. In 48 years of practicing law, Montgomery has won 65 lawsuits worth more than $1 million each. He was already exorbitantly wealthy when he represented the State of Florida in its lawsuit against big tobacco; for his work in that case, he made a cool $206 million. For more than a decade, he has been a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates, an invitation-only group of the country's top 100 trial lawyers including the likes of the late Johnny Cochrane and John Edwards.

For all his professional triumphs, Montgomery's home life has been beset with tragedy, with a son dying of AIDS and a daughter who struggled with drug addiction for years. In a business in which law partners can become family, Montgomery's firms have twice split in messy divorces that spilled into courtrooms.

But Montgomery's wall-banging style may have more to do with his savvy as a litigator than with his personal demons. A large portion of litigation is theater, and Montgomery's tirades are usually calculated. In the State Farm case, he says, the insurance company knowingly delivered the check late. A late check can mean thousands of dollars lost in interest, he says. "Those folks at State Farm knew damn well what time it was due."

Montgomery's gruff tactics consistently work. Sanchez went back to her supervisors with her story of being berated by Montgomery. He believes it helped convince her supervisors to settle rather than face him in a courtroom. In August, State Farm paid out $250,000 to settle -- 212 times the original offer. Montgomery says with confidence: "They feared me after that."

Like so many others before them, they had ample grounds to fear Bullet Bob.

Robert Morel Montgomery Jr.'s first glimpse of the way the law works has become one of his patented bits of acquired wisdom. He told the story recently in his cluttered and rather small office in downtown West Palm. He had his foot up on the desk showing a well-worn sole and his suit jacket hanging from a hat rack. He was 5 years old, at his parents' home in Birmingham, Alabama, when he found a stranger standing on the front porch holding a package that would help shape his life.

The Montgomery home was a postcard of the Deep South in the 1930s, a two-story brick home on three acres of peach and pear trees. It sat down a dusty dirt road, meaning that unexpected visitors could be heard long before they arrived. Montgomery was playing inside when he heard the car approach. He begged his mom to let him open the door. "As I recall, there was a fella there who threw a box -- I mean a pretty big box," Montgomery says, stretching his arms wide. "It was money. Filled with money. All kinds of bills."

His father, criminal defense attorney Morel Montgomery, was at work, so he brought the package to his mother. "What had happened, I learned later, was the First National Bank of Birmingham had been robbed. The loot, so to speak, had been delivered to the lawyer." Montgomery says he doesn't know what happened to the money. He guesses his dad brought it back to the bank. "Deducting what his fee was first, I'm certain."

The box full of money was a compelling vision for young Bob Montgomery, showing him that his father's law practice could earn unheard-of amounts of cash. Boxes full of it. "It was quite a revelation," he says, "an epiphany, so to speak."

But Montgomery says he really didn't get a good picture of how the law worked until a few years later. His father brought him into a small-town Alabama courthouse one Saturday morning to sit with him at the defense table. This was the segregated South, and the courtroom was for blacks only. "It was terrible," Montgomery recalls. "The way they treated Afro-Americans, it was like they had two justice systems."

The young Montgomery was surprised that afternoon when the judge called him up to the bench. His name was Abernathy, and Montgomery remembers the details of his appearance: the judge's jet-black robe, the big watch on his wrist, the graying goatee. An imposing figure, the judge was frightening. "He ruled like a dictator," Montgomery recalls.

In front of the bench stood a black man accused of stabbing another man during a fight. "What do you think I ought to do with this boy, young man?" the judge asked Montgomery. "Should I put him in the jail?"

"No, I don't think so."

"You want me to let him go?" the judge asked. "OK, you, get out of here." The judge ordered the man freed. It was a lesson in the absolute, magical power of the justice system.

Montgomery's father was dead-set against his son's following him into law. After college at the University of Alabama, Montgomery spent two years in the Army during the Korean War. He served the time stateside, training artillery troops. Afterward, Montgomery defied his father and went to the University of Florida's law school. The decision estranged him from his father, and they didn't talk for three years. On his own, Montgomery paid for law school with the G.I. Bill. His wife and college sweetheart, Mary, worked as a secretary at a psychiatric hospital to help pay the bills. "Those were some tough times," he says, "but we managed."

After law school, Montgomery signed on with a Jacksonville firm that did insurance defense work. He spent 18 years representing insurance companies and moved to West Palm Beach to open his own firm in 1966. By 1975, he had the area's biggest insurance defense firm.

That year, Montgomery represented an insurance company in a case with a brain-damaged child, adding another lesson to the Montgomery collection. The girl had been nearly decapitated when her mother's car struck a construction barricade left in the street. The barricade flew through the windshield and struck the child in the head, leaving her permanently brain-damaged. The attorney representing the child's parents was incompetent, Montgomery recalls, and he whipped him. The jury awarded the child's parents nothing. "I went home and cried," Montgomery says. "I should not have won that case like that. I decided right there that I wouldn't use my talents to represent insurance companies any longer."

Two weeks later, Montgomery says, he got a call from a Travelers insurance company bookkeeper disputing a bill. Montgomery had allegedly overcharged the company by $200. "Well, I don't overbill, and I don't lie," Montgomery recalls telling the bookkeeper. When a week later he got a check in the mail for $200 less than the $3,400 he was owed, Montgomery exploded. He called the bookkeeper back.

"You know, I got 126 cases of yours up here. We're on the second floor, and I'm gonna throw them out the window. You can come collect them off the lawn. And by the way, it looks like rain."

The personal injury firm he developed after he switched sides quickly became one of the state's best -- and wealthiest -- in part because of Montgomery's uncanny ability at hiring and training young lawyers. He would pump them up with what became known as Bobisms. Lawyer Jose Rodriguez, who worked with Montgomery for two years in the late '70s, remembers them well: "He would say, 'You should be like a steel fist in a velvet glove.' If you think about it, that's exactly how Bob is."

Montgomery is an unabashed micromanager. Every day, he takes his lawyers to the Palm Beach Yacht Club, where they sit at a circular table. Each one is expected to go through his or her cases, where they stand, and the strategies to win. "It doesn't matter if the next thing in your case was a deposition a month from now. You had to have something to say at those lunches," recalls John Patterson, who worked with Montgomery on the State Farm case. "That was Bob's boot camp."

In the early days of the new firm, every letter was typed on carbon paper that produced a pink copy. Montgomery read every pink copy of letters sent by his firm and would scrutinize each word with his young lawyers, lawyer Lake Lytal recalls. "He would call you in and say, 'What the hell is this in this damned letter?'" Young lawyers quickly learned there was one way to do things. "Bob is a unique guy," Lytal says. "He has a heart of gold, but he wants things his way."

Lawyer Roy Watson remembers what happened to those who lost cases. They were expected to attend confession in Montgomery's office, where they went through what they did wrong and how they'd change it. "There was a fear factor there when you worked for him," Watson recalls. "When you screwed up as a young lawyer you wondered about the consequences. He might do anything."

Above all, Montgomery demands intensity from his lawyers. His accountant, Rampell, often testifies as an expert for Montgomery. One time it was for a plane crash case in the early 1980s. He went to the Montgomery firm before the trial for a rundown of his testimony. "It was like a pep rally at the University of Florida before the Gator Bowl," Rampell says. "Every lawyer came out of their office, patting me on the shoulder, shouting things like 'Go get 'em!' It's just the kind of intensity he wants from the people around him."

Many of the young lawyers who survived his boot camp went on to open their own law firms, and most of West Palm's largest and most successful include Montgomery graduates. But while he made allies among his former underlings, he made no concessions to his enemies, says Michael Austin Robb, a lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who represented State Farm in the Green case. Robb says he once got a call while on vacation in North Carolina that Montgomery had rescheduled a trial for that week, even though he knew Robb was out of town. Robb says Montgomery cost him at least a couple of thousand dollars to reschedule his vacation. "When I got there, I asked for just three hours to prepare. I told Bob he had been sitting in his waterfront mansion preparing for this thing, and the least he could do was give me a few hours to get ready. He wouldn't hear of it."

Ruthlessness with opponents became one mark of the Montgomery style. Another was Montgomery's penchant for picking cases that no one believed he could win. Those are some of the cases that brought him the most fame -- and anguish.

Nathaniel Brazill shot a teacher back in May 2000. Just 13 years old, Brazill wanted to see his girlfriend. He stormed into Barry Grunow's middle-school classroom, demanded to see her, and when Grunow said no, he shot him in the face. After Brazill was sent to prison for 28 years, Pam Grunow, the teacher's widow, hired Montgomery to punish those she saw were responsible for her husband's murder. The School Board, the pawn shop where the gun had been purchased, and the owner of the gun settled with Grunow for about $820,000. His next step was a classic Montgomery gambit: He sued the maker of the .25-caliber gun Brazill had stolen from a cookie tin hidden in a dresser drawer at the home of a family friend.

The suit was far from simple. Valor Corp., makers of the Saturday night special Brazill used, easily diverted fault during a monthlong trial that began in October 2002. They blamed the School Board for letting Brazill into the building with the gun, and most of all, they blamed Brazill. On the last day of the trial, Montgomery stood before the jurors to make an impassioned closing argument. Like any fine Southern gentlemen, he began by complimenting his audience. "Now let me tell you about jurors," he began. "We are the mightiest, strongest country in the world. And you sitting as a body, as a jury together, are the strongest entity in the world." With their power to mete out justice, juries are more powerful than senators or even presidents, Montgomery contended. "You don't have a magic wand to bring Barry Grunow back. But you have the ability and the authority to right a wrong. That's what jurors do."

Montgomery methodically laid out his case, maintaining that Valor Corp. had ignored evidence that its guns were used for nothing but killing people. Nobody used the guns Valor manufactured for hunting or target practice; their only use was for murder, Montgomery argued. Throughout the trial, Montgomery had maintained a diffident monotone, exuding politeness. Now, in closing arguments, he raised his voice for the first time. He waved his finger at the executives of Valor Corp. His grandfatherly demeanor gave way to a harsh father figure, with a scowl that clenched his friendly face. "And I say, Valor, what did you do? You knew that this gun was killing people. You knew that your product was defective, and you didn't do a darn thing about it!"

Montgomery asked the jury for $25 million for Grunow's widow and children. "I don't have any apologies at all for asking for that kind of money, none at all," Montgomery told the jury. "Because it has got to make a statement so far as the loss is concerned. And this isn't the loss of life. This is the loss of all those things that go with being a husband and a child."

The all-female jury returned a verdict of just $1.2 million, but the decision was still heralded as a triumph. It was the first time anywhere that a jury had held a company partly responsible for a gun it manufactured being used in a crime. A judge later overturned the verdict, but Montgomery appealed, and both sides are still waiting for the Fourth District Court of Appeals in West Palm Beach to decide whether Grunow should get any money.

There were other unwinnable cases and some inadvisable ones too.

During the election fiasco of 2000, when every Democrat anywhere was blaming then-Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Theresa LePore with handing the election to George Bush, Montgomery stepped up to defend her. He took the case for free and stood by her side as she faced not only dozens of lawsuits from across the country but also public scorn and ridicule.

Defending LePore was a decision that earned him alienation from some members of the party he has supported for a generation, giving more than $180,000 to Democratic causes (and hosting a $10,000-a-plate dinner at his home for Al Gore just months before the election). But Delray Beach Democratic activist Andre Fladell says most local party leaders agreed with Montgomery's decision to support someone he had known for years. "He had a personal relationship with her that superseded the party," Fladell says. "Bob will defend a personal relationship before a political relationship, and that's the way it should be."

Perhaps the most famous of his underdog cases came in 1990, when Kimberly Bergalis, a 22-year-old college student, came to him with a story nobody believed. She claimed she had gotten AIDS from her dentist, David Acer. No one had ever gotten AIDS that way, but she was sure it was the only way.

During their first meeting, Montgomery was blunt with the girl, who was already below 100 pounds and was just a year away from death. "I got to know your sexual history," he told her.

"Mr. Montgomery, I'm a virgin," Bergalis swore.

Without hesitation, Montgomery says he trusted her. "I don't know how a female could get through the University of Florida without having sexual relations," he says now. "But I don't know why; I just believed her."

In the lawsuit, Montgomery went first after the dentist, whose insurance company quickly settled out of court. Acer had only a $1 million insurance policy, so Montgomery also sued Cigna Dental Health of Florida, which had referred Bergalis to Acer. Meanwhile, Montgomery was flooded with calls telling him to drop the case, says David Eaton, a Tampa lawyer who worked for Montgomery at the time. "Bob got calls from the governor, senators, congressmen. It was a political hot potato," Eaton recalls. "No one wanted a lawsuit that said you could get AIDS from your dentist."

Montgomery ignored them. He hired a team of DNA experts from Stanford University and Los Alamos, who determined with a 99 percent certainty that the strand of AIDS Bergalis had had come from Acer. No one, even to this day, understands how Acer transmitted the virus, but the DNA evidence was clear that the dentist infected his patients, perhaps deliberately. Cigna agreed to an out-of-court settlement in December 1990, just months after that initial meeting with Montgomery. While the settlement has never been revealed, Montgomery once told the Palm Beach Post that the award for Bergalis and other patients infected added up to "millions of dollars."

Her father, George Bergalis, remembers seeing the two distinct sides of Bob Montgomery during the lawsuit. On one side, he treated Kimberly Bergalis like a daughter. Once, he even gave her $5,000 to buy a car so she could get medical treatments in Miami. "She used to come home and say she felt good about being in court with him," George Bergalis says from his office in the Fort Pierce City Hall, where he's finance director. "He was willing to put his career on the line back then to take this case."

When his daughter's reputation was attacked, George Bergalis also saw the bulldog in Bob Montgomery. The insurance companies tried to discredit her story of being a virgin, spreading an unproven rumor that she had a venereal disease. Montgomery went on the attack, demanding that the insurance companies show proof of the disease. After he called their bluff, they backed down. He still gets fired up talking about it. "The insurance companies were just a bunch of assholes," he says with fire. "They did everything they could to discredit Kimberly."

Montgomery doesn't say it, but his passion for the case may have been fueled by his son, Scott, who had contracted AIDS. The young man died in 1992. It's something he rarely speaks about; even as he watched Bergalis mortally ill with the disease, he never discussed his own son's tragedy with the Bergalis family. "He never mentioned his son to me," George Bergalis says. "I knew his son had AIDS, and I always wondered if that's why he took our case, with so many people saying he shouldn't. But we never talked about it. It is not something I would bring up to Bob Montgomery unless he did first."

After the Bergalis case solidified Montgomery's fame, the long-shot case that made him more money than any other came a decade ago, when an old college buddy convinced him to join the State of Florida's lawsuit against big tobacco. The old friend was then-Gov. Lawton Chiles, and Montgomery became the point man on an all-star legal team. At the time, nobody had won such a case against the tobacco companies, which ultimately settled in August 1997 for $11.3 billion. The case had been settled before trial -- where Montgomery was supposed to do most of the talking.

For his part, Montgomery made $206 million -- an award that would also bring its problems, creating a bitter battle within Montgomery's own law firm.

Montgomery received his first cut of the tobacco money in December 1998. It was a check for a stunning $23 million -- 23 with six zeros after it.

Montgomery's partner at the time, Chris Larmoyeux, wanted a part of the windfall. After working for Montgomery for years, he was still only a 1 percent partner in the firm, making $60,000 a month. Montgomery gave him a $1 million bonus and promised to give him one-quarter of all the tobacco money from then on. Larmoyeux typed up a contract with that promise and came into Montgomery's office with it on December 18, 1998.

"Chris, hell, I already told you I'm giving you 25 percent," Montgomery, in a deposition, recalled telling him.

"What if you get killed coming to work?" Larmoyeux said, according to Montgomery.

"I don't think I'm going to get killed coming to work," Montgomery said. He signed the document anyway, agreeing during a three-minute conversation to pay his partner $51 million.

Over the next year, however, Larmoyeux and Montgomery continually argued about the firm's debts. Montgomery had been floating a line of credit for years, accumulating $4.7 million in debt, Larmoyeux claimed. In a deposition, Montgomery defended the loans in his unabashed style: "If I want to buy my wife something or I want to buy a new car... then I will go down and I will borrow $100,000 or $200,000 or whatever I need in order to keep my lifestyle the way in which it has been all these years. Now, why is that all right? Because it's my money."

Larmoyeux threatened to quit, telling employees that the firm was headed for financial ruin, according to Montgomery. To head off his resignation, Montgomery fired Larmoyeux two days after Christmas, while Larmoyeux was on his annual holiday vacation in Jacksonville. Two months later, Larmoyeux responded with a lawsuit asking for his one-quarter of the tobacco money.

In the end, the arbitrators sided entirely with Montgomery, awarding Larmoyeux just $257,486, representing one-quarter of the tobacco money for his last month of work. Even worse for Larmoyeux, he had signed a contract that required him to pay Montgomery 80 percent of any fees he got from clients he took with him after he was fired. Larmoyeux had argued he didn't have to pay those fees because he had been fired, but the arbitrators sided with Montgomery. Instead of being $51 million richer, Larmoyeux now owed Montgomery nearly $2 million. Larmoyeux has appealed the arbitrators' decision, but he may also face more than $600,000 in legal fees for bringing the action.

Now the head of his own firm in West Palm, Larmoyeux won't comment on the dispute. "I do not talk about the past," he says firmly. "If you asked me about my high school basketball career, I'd say I don't talk about the past. I've had many chapters in my life, and I don't talk about any of them. People try to rewrite the past to suit their interest, and that's why I don't do it. It's wrong." He says he doesn't speak to Montgomery -- but only because they don't see each other. "We don't have any interaction. End of story."

Montgomery may have won that dispute, but he's had other breakups that have not turned out so well. On Valentine's Day in 1989, the lawyers Montgomery had put through boot camp fired him from his own firm. Montgomery's own prodigy, Christian Searcy, claimed Montgomery was siphoning off the firm's money to pay for a luxurious Palm Beach lifestyle, which includes his 26,000-square-foot mansion on Ocean Boulevard. The firm had a $9 million debt that his partners said Montgomery hid from them.

On May 3, 1990, Montgomery answered the charges with a slander suit. Searcy filed his own lawsuit seeking repayment of $2.9 million, and Montgomery fired back by demanding a 27 percent cut of all the firm's ongoing lawsuits, according to court papers. The cases languished for over a year as the soap-opera-esque breakup played out in the press. Finally, after Montgomery and his former partners met behind closed doors for mediation, both sides dropped the suits and agreed to pay nothing to each other.

Early on a recent Sunday afternoon, Montgomery slid behind the red-spotted linoleum counter at John G' s restaurant on Lake Worth beach. He sat where he usually does, under the sketch of a pelican and next to a pot of flowers, which that day were some slightly wilted roses. He wore a pair of gray slacks, a silver sweater vest, a white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and a pair of two-toned, black-and-white leather shoes. From his spot at the counter, he could see through the takeout window to the waves crashing on the beach and to the folks waiting in line for tables. "You see," he said, "nobody knows about the counter. You can sneak right in and sit down right away."

Before the food arrived (he always orders the fried shrimp platter and starts by plucking a hush puppy off the pile of fried food with his fingers), Montgomery called the waitress over. "I'm paying for everyone's lunch today at the counter," he said. Then he turned to his wife, Mary. "Why not everybody in the restaurant?"

"Not today," Mary Montgomery said.

"Not today?" he said. "OK."

While he has a domestic staff of nine back at his mansion just down Ocean Boulevard, Montgomery goes to John G's every Sunday. It begins a week of routines. Four days a week, he'll lunch at the yacht club with his lawyers. On Thursdays, the firm orders sandwiches and lunches in the conference room. Three days a week, he meets with a personal trainer. On Saturday, Montgomery plays golf, often with his daughter Courtnay. His daughter, who once battled drugs and regular arrests, has now turned things around, recently graduating from college and helping to run some of Montgomery's charity work. She lives in the Montgomerys' guesthouse. "She's a much better golfer than I am," Montgomery concedes. "I'm a duffer." And wherever he goes, in that black Rolls-Royce that he replaces yearly, he keeps his doors unlocked. "If they want in, they'll get in, so I keep my doors unlocked," he says. "I like it that way."

Despite his fame as a lawyer and his reputation as a tough guy, Montgomery has his quirks. At his home is a pack of dogs that run wild on the patio. In his parlor, the walls are covered, like a shrine to himself, with newspaper clippings and photos. Montgomery wears a marble-sized ring on his right hand in the shape of an alligator -- from his alma mater -- which matches the gator cuff links he rarely leaves at home.

He doesn't spend much time socializing. Outside of his business associates, he has few close friends. His closest old friend is Ira DeMent, a U.S. District Court judge in Alabama. They grew up together in Birmingham, and both spent a year at the Marion Military Institute before going to the University of Alabama. "Bob was my second," DeMent says. "In the last fistfight of my life, Bob backed me up. I'll never forget that. It was the kind of guy he was, the kind of guy you relied upon." But like many old friends, DeMent says, they don't talk much anymore. The last time was over the phone perhaps four years ago.

More than anything, Montgomery's hobby is his charities. He says he learned it from his father, who took orphans to the movies and brought them home for Thanksgiving dinner. Rampell, his accountant, says Montgomery has far outpaced his father and has probably given close to $100 million to charities. He is the Palm Beach Opera's main donor, religiously attending the shows, and is a big contributor to Children's Place at Home Safe. Jerry Carr, president of WXEL public radio and TV, says Montgomery is the station's biggest underwriter. Montgomery has hired a marketing agency that produces the public service announcements that have made him a household name in Palm Beach County. "Bob is a major donor," Carr says. "Everyone knows him as such."

Montgomery doesn't like to talk about his charitable giving. He was outwardly angry when asked about the $100 million figure. He says he doesn't like to take credit for his gifts. He says he gave $1 million to the Armory Art Center in West Palm, and when the place honored him by putting his and his wife's name above the door, he says: "I gave them another million to take it off."

He still works from 10 to 5 o'clock every day. When there's litigation now, he usually comes in at the end, like a closing pitcher, handling the arguments in cases that are largely tried by his lawyers. "I love trials. If I had my way, I'd try them all," he said in a deposition during the Larmoyeux case. "I am a type of lawyer that I shoot my wad pretty well on closing argument." At almost 75 years old, he has no plans to give it up. Asked what motivates him to keep fighting, Montgomery doesn't contemplate it long. "I don't know what it is. First of all, I enjoy what I do. I don't know what I would do if I retired. It's nice to take on a battle, so to speak. I'm in a very wonderful time in my life where I can pretty much pick my battles."

After breakfast, he paid with a $100 bill, walked down to the metered parking where he left the Rolls unlocked, and headed back to his palatial home. On Monday, he went to lunch at the yacht club, where you can bet every one of his lawyers had something good to report to Bullet Bob.

Popular Stories


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >