Joe Rice, of the Charleston, South Carolina-based Motley Rice law firm, recently was named tongue-in-cheek "chairman and CEO" of the fictitious "Trial Lawyers Inc."
His appointment was announced in The Manhattan Institute's latest Trial Lawyers Inc. report focusing on “Class Actions and Mass Torts.”
In the original Trial Lawyers Inc. report in 2003, the late Ron Motley was listed as founder and chairman of Trial Lawyers Inc., James Copland, senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute, recently told Palmetto Business Daily.
“Motley, of course, pioneered mass asbestos litigation and, along with Dickie Scruggs, led the tobacco multistate lawsuits that resulted in the largest-ever tort litigation settlement,” Copland said. “His partner Joe Rice naturally assumes the chairman and CEO title in the newest edition of our Trial Lawyers Inc. series.”
Copland explained that Rice was the right fit for the Trial Lawyers Inc. title based on his experience.
“As we note in the report, Rice chaired the plaintiffs’ steering committee for litigation stemming from the BP oil spill, and currently serves on committees overseeing lawsuits against Pfizer (involving Lipitor) and General Motors (faulty ignition switches), ” Copland said. “We think Rice is the most prominent active plaintiffs' lawyer today, at least in the arena of mass torts.”
Copland also offered background on how the series started and the significance of litigation in America.
“We launched our Trial Lawyers Inc. series in 2003 to highlight the size, scope and inner workings of the litigation industry,” he said. “Tort litigation is a major part of the American economy — the direct costs alone, even excluding things like the tobacco settlement and some classes of lawsuits, are almost 2 percent of gross domestic product.”
He explained that law firms do not publicize their numbers like other industries that are required to disclose numbers because of regulations.
“Styled as ‘annual reports’ of the litigation industry, our series of publications is designed to inform the public about what's going on in the world of tort litigation,” Copland said.
Copland offered insight into the latest information presented in the 20th report.
“Our most recent report, the 20th in the series, focuses on mass tort and class-action litigation — the large lawsuits that aggregate hundreds or even thousands of clients into the plaintiffs' bar's most lucrative line of business," he said.