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Ronald L. Motley

Ronald L. Motley
Status: Deceased

(1944 - 2013)

Ron Motley was internationally recognized as one of America's most accomplished and skilled trial lawyers. Over a career spanning more than three decades, his persuasiveness before a jury and his ability to break new legal and evidentiary ground brought to justice two once-invincible giant industries whose malfeasance took the lives of millions of Americans - asbestos and tobacco. Noted for his role in spearheading the historic litigation against the tobacco industry, Ron served as lead trial counsel for 26 State Attorneys General in the lawsuits. His efforts to uncover corporate and scientific wrongdoing resulted in the Master Settlement Agreement, the largest civil settlement in U.S. history, in which the tobacco industry agreed to reimburse states for smoking-related health care costs.

Ron had an arsenal of folk lore phrases he would use in cross examination putting a dagger through the witnesss heart while endearing himself to the jury. He had the ability to review literally millions of pages of documents and recall which one he needed at trial without reference to a list. Ron was one of those trial lawyers who took on the largest and most incomprehensible cases. He seemed to have an ability to see an evil that infects our society and to fashion a civil remedy that would address it and in doing so, bring some of the country's most powerful economic forces to their knees.

At the time of Ron's death, Mark Davis posted, "... He was a larger-than-life trial lawyer and lived a personal life that often seemed larger than life. I recall him taking on the economic interests that funded terrorism and the attacks of 911. He launched civil lawsuits against the Saudi royal families that triggered threats against his personal safety. He came to an Inner Circle meeting to discuss his terrorism lawsuit and he was accompanied by a host of bodyguards that were posted outside of his hotel door (across the hall from my room). I was thinking I should post a note on my door to remind all who were interested whose room belonged to him and whose room belonged to me. When we were in Charleston, he hosted a lavish party for the Inner Circle on his private ship (not a boat or a yacht, a 'ship'). I ran into Johnnie and Dale Cochran leaving the gang plank as I was entering. Johnnie commented to me that he 'had' thought he was doing pretty well but now Dale thought he was a piker."

Ron was a true giant of the legal profession. A trail blazer and innovator. A charismatic master of the courtroom. A tenacious interrogator. 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.
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