Co-founder of Motley Rice law firm dead at 68

Motley (Source: The Motley Rice Law Firm)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Ron Motley, the cofounder of the Motley Rice Law Firm, died at the age of 68.

Joe Rice confirmed Motley's death in a statement released Thursday morning.

"Ron was a true giant of the legal profession. A 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 Motley.

Ron Motley is most noted for his role in leading the legal charge against the tobacco industry, serving as lead counsel for 26 jurisdictions that led to the largest civil settlement in U.S. history.

Motley is also credited with going after asbestos manufacturers and exposing the dangers behind asbestos, resulting in several class action suits.

In 2002, Motley also served as lead counsel for the 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism, seeking to bankrupt al Qeada financial backers.

Motley has been awarded with the South Carolina Association for Justice (SCAJ) Founders' Award, was inducted into the 2012 Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame, and has been included in the "Best Lawyers in America" list since 1993.

"The significance of his loss to the entire legal community cannot be overstated," said Rod Jernigan, President of SCAJ. "Ron's style was unique and determined, making him a strong force in the courtroom. {}He helped thousands of individuals during his career as both a lawyer and an activist.{} Visionary and pioneer are the best words to describe Ron. His passing marks the end of an era."

"All of us at Motley Rice will continue to devote ourselves to carrying Ron's legacy forward and honoring his life and memory by redoubling our efforts to put the powerless on a level playing field with the powerful, to get them their day in court, and to win justice for all," Rice said.

To see more on Ron Motley, visit his biography on the Motley Rice website here.