Ron Motley, trial law innovator, fearless advocate, and member of the Association for Justice for nearly 40 years, died August 22, 2013, in South Carolina. He was 68.
Four years after graduating in 1971 from the University of South Carolina School of Law, Ron joined the American Association for Justice. Two years later, in 1977, he was serving his first term on the association’s board, and served on that body through 2012. In recognition of his tremendous work to assure that victims of negligence have an opportunity to hold responsible parties accountable, and for his commitment to strengthening our civil justice system, AAJ honored Ron in 1998 with the Harry M. Philo Trial Lawyer of the Year Award, in 2007 with the David S. Shrager President’s Award, and in 2010 with the AAJ Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ron was known for taking what were thought to be impossible cases and delivering justice to families devastated by harmful products such as asbestos, lead paint, and tobacco. He was creative, fearless and one of the nation’s best courtroom lawyers. He literally created an avenue of redress for thousands who otherwise would have been left without a remedy.
Ron first came to prominence in the legal profession when he took on the asbestos industry. After that he grew to be an internationally recognized trial lawyer who pursued cases against the tobacco industry and the alleged terrorist financiers of the September 11th attacks. He was a leader who was committed to protecting the rights of people harmed by corporate negligence, and received multiple honors and accolades for his dedication to helping people and for his role in advancing civil litigation.
In his community, Ron made many contributions to promote the health and well-being of South Carolina residents. He was a member of many associations and a contributor to several non-profits across the country. In addition, Ron founded the Mark Elliot Motley Foundation in memory of his son and for the benefit of other children and young adults throughout South Carolina.
The American Association for Justice will present a resolution to the AAJ Board of Governors at its next meeting in October to honor Ron’s life and contributions to civil trial law.