William C. Sellers
William “Bill” Sellers was a prominent Oklahoma attorney during the last decades of the twentieth century. A member of the Cherokee tribe, Sellers established his law practice in Creek County and won some of the biggest civil judgments in state history.
In 1980, he represented Bill Middlebrook of Tulsa in a medical malpractice suit resulting in a $2.3 million award, which increased to $3.2 million with interest – the largest award in state history at that time. In 1997, Sellers served as co-counsel for the Robbin Campbell case in Tulsa County. The jury returned a $20 million punitive judgment, the largest of its kind for that county. The judgment was reversed on appeal, but a settlement was reached.
Winning large judgments earned Sellers his share of criticism and sparked calls for tort reform, but Sellers continued to be a vigorous advocate for his clients. He explained his legal philosophy in a 1994 letter to the editor of the Tulsa World. “I am proud to be a contingent fee lawyer. I am a key to the courthouse door for poor, injured children.” After his death, the Bixby Historical Society erected a monument honoring him as the “Clarence Darrow of Creek County.”
A true Renaissance man, Sellers earned an art degree from Central State (now the University of Central Oklahoma) in Edmond. He played five instruments, painted and did fine woodworking. He also served in Korea, held a pilot’s license, and owned a Stearman biplane. He earned his law degree from the University of Oklahoma Law School. Sellers’ father was featured in Ripley’s Believe it Or Not: “A banker named Coin Sellers from Drumright, Oklahoma.”
Sellers’ niece and nephew, April Sellers White and Jefferson Sellers, served as judges in Creek and Tulsa Counties. Sellers’ brother, Jack was also a distinguished Oklahoma trial attorney.
Sellers gave the bowl on display to Justice Yvonne Kauger and she has donated it to the Oklahoma Judicial Center collection.