MT. PLEASANT, S.C. (Legal Newsline) -- The co-founder of one of the country's largest plaintiffs' firms, Motley Rice LLC, died Thursday.

Ronald Motley was 68.

In a statement, firm co-founder Joe Rice called Motley a "true giant of the legal profession," "trail blazer" and "innovator."

"A charismatic master of the courtroom. A tenacious interrogator. The greatest trial lawyer ever. All marked by unmatched courage in going after any wrongdoer, no matter how big and powerful, and by his bottomless well of compassion for those who had been wronged," Rice said of his longtime colleague.

"Not only is this a personal loss to me, Ron's family, my family and our firm, but also for so many more for whom Ron also was a devoted friend, mentor, collaborator, legal adversary and fellow crusader for justice."

Rice continued, "Ron's passing is an incalculable loss for all those he devoted his life's work to, whether it was people harmed from asbestos exposure, state attorneys general taking on big tobacco, 9/11 family members seeking to bankrupt terrorism, or anyone else who wanted his or her day in court to redress injustice. Ron proudly lived life as a trial lawyer."

Linda Lipsen, CEO of the American Association of Justice, called Motley "one of the most creative, fearless lawyers I've ever known."

"He took the impossible cases no one else would take, delivering justice to families devastated by a litany of harmful products including asbestos, lead paint and tobacco, just to name a few," she said in a statement Thursday.

"Ron was one of the best courtroom lawyers ever -- a bold and dramatic legal pioneer. He literally created an avenue of redress for thousands who otherwise would have been left without a remedy. And he was a fiercely loyal friend.

"His contributions to AAJ, where he was a member for nearly 40 years, are immeasurable."

The famed law firm, under Motley's direction, first went after asbestos makers.

Then, after making millions in fees, the firm took on tobacco companies.

After making billions, the firm started its pursuit of the lead paint industry.

"If I don't bring the entire lead paint industry to its knees within three years," Motley famously vowed to the Dallas Morning News back in 1999, "I will give them my boat."

The "boat" was a yacht -- a 156-foot yacht called Themis, after the Greek titaness of law.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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