|Celebrated South Carolina lawyer Ron Motley has died at the age of 68, law partner Joe Rice confirmed Thursday.
No cause of death was given for the trial lawyer, and funeral arrangements have not been announced.
Motley served as lead counsel in lawsuits that ultimately yielded the largest civil settlement in U.S. history in which the tobacco industry agreed to reimburse states for smoking-related health care costs.
As part of the Ness Motley firm, he also sued on behalf of asbestos victims and the families of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack victims.
Motley's practice underwent a transformation in 2003 when he and Rice formed the Motley Rice firm. The Mount Pleasant-based practice is one of the largest plaintiffs' firms in the country. The name change was partly because 13 attorneys and about 40 support staff left to form a new firm, Richardson Patrick Westbrook & Brinkman, in 2002.
The family of deceased South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Julius "Bubba" Ness also sued the firm, saying the Ness portion of the name should be dropped since the practice was no longer connected to the family. Ness' son-in-law, Terry Richardson, was among the lawyers who left to form the new firm.
On Thursday, Richardson remembered Motley _ with whom he practiced for nearly 30 years _ as a tenacious attorney who was a major figure in a time when plaintiffs' law experienced a renaissance.