Ronald Lee Motley, In Memoriam (1944-2013)
Michael Lesser on Sep 13, 2013 8:31:00 AM
When Ronald “Ron” Motley passed on August 22, 2013, not only did the legal world lose one of its brightest and most ferocious lights, those most in need of representation and justice lost one of their greatest champions. Ron, a former Thornton Law Firm partner, was one of the most well-known and successful trial lawyers in America, leading the firms Motley Rice and Ness Motley Loadholt Richardson and Poole in South Carolina. A master of the courtroom, with a style described as both fiery and entertaining, Ron was a tireless servant to his clients, approaching each case and client with compassion and intense focus. Ron was one of the first trial lawyers to nationally represent victims of mesothelioma and asbestos exposure. In time, he and his firm were instrumental in many landmark legal victories, including the historic 1998 tobacco industry settlement that recovered $246 billion dollars to the states. Ron and Motley Rice also represented victims of the 9/11 attacks, took on the lead paint industry, and more recently negotiated a record settlement in representation of the victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
More important than the headlines, however, was Ron’s deep-rooted belief in the American system of justice. The rights so long fought for by Ron and other trial lawyers – the right to counsel on contingency for those who would otherwise go unrepresented, the right to a jury trial against a defendant that causes harm – rights that we take for granted, are, however, forever under attack. Many business and industry special interest groups constantly fight (often successfully) for more and more restrictions on the rights of the injured to seek full and fair recovery for their injuries. As we remember our colleague, we must remember not just what he achieved, but his dedication to what he fought for. As we do so, we are reminded that the fight for justice is one that requires nothing less than constant vigilance. Ron will be missed, but he will also always inspire us as we continue on his path.