Mr. Berger was one of the first lawyers in the United States to apply the class-action rule in the federal courts to antitrust violations. Beginning in 1963, he filed a series of class-action cases complaining of price-fixing by industries that included rock salt, cast-iron railway wheels, concrete pipes and copper tubing.
One of his best-known cases was a nationwide class-action suit in 1971 by service station operators against all the major oil companies, demanding the right to sell any brand of gasoline. In a settlement in 1984, his 50,000 clients not only won the right they demanded, but also $37 million in damages.
Among the cases that he and his firm litigated were the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, where he won $25 million for neighboring residents and $5 million for a public health fund to study the effects of low-level radiation exposure they had experienced.
He graduated first in his class from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1936, then stayed on for two years assisting the law school’s administrators. He later was a law clerk for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
He was an officer on several Navy ships in the South Pacific during World War II and then served on the personal staff of Adm. William F. Halsey, commander of the South Pacific Theater of Naval Operations.
He returned to Philadelphia to be a trial lawyer and was then appointed solicitor for the City of Philadelphia law department. Among his projects was helping set up the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority, Philadelphia’s regional transportation system.
In 1963, he returned to private practice. Six years later, he ran for Philadelphia district attorney and lost.
Mr. Berger’s marriage to Harriet Fleisher Berger ended in divorce. He is survived by his sons, Jonathan and Daniel; his brothers, Harold and Joseph; and two grandchildren.more » « less