Kevin Cody

Neighbors, legal community mourn for Major Langer

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Major Langer, of Rolling Hills, was renowned personal injury attorney. Photo courtesy of Jim Hall.

by Kevin Cody

Last Thursday evening, on the first day of Shiva, following Major Langer’s burial, the guard at the Rolling Hills gatehouse asked one of the arriving guests, “Who was this guy? I’ve never seen so many people come to pay their respects.”

At noon that day, over 1,000 mourners attended the Rolling Hills attorney’s burial at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery.

“I lost track of all the dignitaries at the services. People flew in from all over the world. It was something to see,” recalled a friend and colleague Jim Hall.

Langer and Hall met at their children’s preschool over four decades ago.

They and their wives Shirley and Marcie, had dinner almost every Sunday at Fu Yuan Low. They celebrated Christmas Eve dinner together and were scheduled to be together on New Year’s Eve.

But on Friday, Dec. 29, Langer, 75, was fatally shot by a recently dismissed law partner. According to witnesses, John Mendoza, 58, of Redondo Beach, arrived that afternoon at the holiday office party for Langer’s Long Beach law firm. Mendoza, Langer, and partner Ronald Beck went into the firm’s conference room to discuss Mendoza’s dismissal settlement, which sources described as “generous.” According to Hall, who spoke to Beck after the shootings, Mendoza became verbally confrontational and then fired a handgun at Langer and Beck. Langer was fatally shot in the back. Beck, a Rancho Palos Verdes resident, was wounded in the leg. After shooting his former partners, Mendoza fatally shot himself.

Both Mendoza and Langer were prominent personal injury attorneys. Mendoza was a frequent legal commentator on Los Angeles television and radio programs.

Attorney Major Langer took pride in the vineyard he maintained on his Rolling Hills property. Photo courtesy of Jim Hall.

Langer handled many high profile clients, including actress Pamela Anderson. He represented several Rolling Hills neighbors in a case resulting from the 1980 landslide that damaged the neighbors’ homes. He argued that the slide was caused by faulty water pipes, leading to a $17.6 million judgment.

Langer’s legal successes enabled him to devote his leisure time to tending his  Rolling Hills property vineyard.

But his motivation, Hall said wasn’t success, but justice.

“One of his early cases involved an eccentric Long Beach woman named Misses Rose, who claimed the neighborhood kids were taunting her. Most attorneys won’t even return calls from the Misses Roses of the world. But Major took her case and won a judgment for her against the kids and their parents,” Hall said.

In addition to his wife Shirley, Langer is survived by daughters Jessica and Alexis, son Ryan and grandchildren Bobby and Zelda Sousa.

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