Ronald Motley of Motley Rice, one of the nation’s largest plaintiffs’ litigation firms, will receive the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for 2010 from the American Association for Justice (AAJ).
The most distinguished honor will be given July 13, 2010 at the AAJ annual convention in Vancouver, Canada.
Motley (an IB member) is a 1971 graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law.
More than 30 years practicing law have been highlighted by asbestos litigation taking on insulation maker Johns Manville, and by battling Big Tobacco on behalf of 26 states' Attorneys General.
The National Law Journal recognizes Motley as “One of the most influential lawyers in America.” His partner Joe Rice says, “Ron is a walking representation of the values that are fundamental to our country’s justice system and the rights of citizens worldwide.”
Motley has been awarded the Harry M. Philo Trial Lawyer of the Year and the National Association of Attorneys General’s President’s Award. The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids presented Motley with its Youth Advocates of the Year Award in 1999.
AAJ, formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, was established in 1946 to promote justice and address the challenges inherent in trial advocacy.
There are some lesser known facts about Ron Motley.
· He was played by the actor Bruce McGill in the 1999 film, The Insider, starring Russell Crow.
· Today, Motley is lead counsel representing 6,500 families and survivors of the September 11 U.S. terrorist attacks seeking justice against al-Qaeda’s financiers with the help of a leading European terrorism financing expert, Jean-Charles Brisard. He has also served as lead counsel in aviation security liability lawsuits stemming from Sept 11.
· He has set up a foundation in memory of his late son.
· Motley is leading litigation in 500 cases against several firms that process human tissue harvested from funeral homes.
· His mother smoked two to three packs of Winstons a day and he watched her die of emphysema. She was so addicted that when she was on oxygen, she would smoke a cigarette.
Motley revealed his personal story of the dangers of smoking in a Frontline interview:
“And then when you hear the denials of the cigarette companies that they had never caused the illness or death of a single American citizen, having sat there and watched my mother suffocating. Having the doctors tell me and describe for me exactly what caused it. How it caused it and what it was doing to her.
“It makes you very angry. At least it made me very angry. And when I get angry, I try to get even, if it is legitimate to do so...
...“Dr. Frank Colby, he was a senior scientist for R. J. Reynolds for 35 years and then was assigned to their law firms. When I asked Dr. Colby, who had insisted--and this was in 1997--that no American had ever died from smoking cigarettes. That was his position. I asked him if he had read the deposition of Jeffrey Bible that I had taken, who was the Chief Executive Officer of Phillip Morris, the big parent company. Who said 100,000 possibly die every year.
“And he looked me straight in the eye and he said, 'Mr. Motley, I don't believe in that Bible or the Bible.' And I said, 'Are you an atheist.' And he said, 'Yes.' It strikes me as rather remarkable that a company that has a scientist who is supposed to be in charge of scientific morality is an atheist.'
Motley describes another exchange with Colby about second hand smoke.
“He was asked about secondhand smoke, environmental tobacco smoke. And he said he didn't think that people should not be allowed to smoke in public places.
And he said, 'Why, people don't like to be around smokers, well they can walk out of the room.' And the interviewer said, 'Well, what about children. And he said, well children can walk.' And he said, 'But what about a woman holding a baby?' And he looked his eye right in the camera and he said, 'Babies can crawl out the room, can't they?'
And that shows the attitude of the cigarette companies.”