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Ron Motley 
​(1944 - 2013)

A pioneering and accomplished trial lawyer who championed large issues of social and environmental injustice, human rights, and set precedents throughout his career. Because of his boldness in the face of mass social injustice, Ron Motley is now renowned for leading large-scale lawsuits on critical social, medical, and environmental issues. During a career spanning more than four decades, he represented clients in cases revolving around anti-terrorism, asbestos exposure, and human rights violations.

Portrait of Ron Motley.
Motley, Ron. 16" x 20". 2016. Collection of the artist. Montreal, Canada.

Legal Career

Motley earned a B.A. at University of South Carolina and a J.D. from University of South Carolina School of Law. He was a founding member of Motley Rice L.L.C. and broke ground with cases against the asbestos and Big Tobacco industries. His work with Dr. Jeffrey Wigand established the historic Master Settlement Agreement in November 1998, an accord which required the tobacco industry to pay massive retributions to the involved states for damages and ongoing health care costs. He also headed lawsuits for thousands of asbestos victims and his work brought the dangers of asbestos exposure to the public consciousness. 

Motley took on two of the largest civil class action settlements in U.S. history to bring justice to [those] impacted by the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Coast oil spill.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, Motley was lead counsel for the lawsuit filed by the Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism. He sought justice for thousands of survivors and families of victims, including cases against aviation security industries. Experience in anti-terrorist legal work positioned him to battle financial supporters of terrorist organizations such as Hamas. He took on two of the largest civil class action settlements in US history to bring justice to individuals and collectives impacted by the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Coast oil spill.

In addition to legal work, Motley sat on the executive board of many of the organizations related to his major cases. Over the course of his career, he received numerous awards and accolades and will be remembered for his commitment to “greater justice, accountability, and recourse.”

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"The credit belongs to the one who is actually in the arena."

Theodore Roosevelt


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