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Helping the Underdogs: Motley Rice named to 2014 Plaintiffs’ Hot List

March 10, 2014

BP Claims Update: Joe Rice comments on ruling from 5th Circuit regarding BEL claims

March 06, 2014

Burn Pit Update: Ruling by Federal Appeals Court allows burn pit cases to proceed

March 06, 2014

AAJ Resolution Tribute: Honors the life and service of Ronald L. Motley

February 07, 2014

Deepwater Settlement Upheld: Appeals court upholds Settlement Agreement between BP and plaintiffs

January 13, 2014

Practice Areas

Anti-Terrorism & Human Rights

Asbestos and Mesothelioma


Catastrophic Injury



Occupational Disease & Toxic Tort

Securities & Consumer Fraud

Licensed In


Admitted to Practice Before

U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Circuits

U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska and the District of South Carolina


J.D., University of South Carolina School of Law, 1979

B.S., University of South Carolina, 1976

South Carolina

Joseph F. Rice
Founding Member

Joseph F. Rice

Motley Rice co-founding member Joe Rice is recognized as a skillful and innovative negotiator of complex litigation settlements. As lead private counsel for 26 jurisdictions, including numerous State Attorneys General, he played a central role in crafting the landmark Master Settlement Agreement, the largest civil settlement in U.S. history, in which the tobacco industry agreed to reimburse states for smoking-related health costs. Over the past two decades, Joe has also been recognized for his role in structuring some of the most significant resolutions of asbestos liabilities on behalf of victims injured by asbestos-related products.

Joe has held leadership and negotiating roles involving the bankruptcies of several large organizations, including AWI, Federal Mogul, Johns Manville, Celotex, Garlock, W.R. Grace, Babcock & Wilcox, U.S. Gypsum, Owens Corning and Pittsburgh Corning. He remains a key player in developing and negotiating the structured settlements of asbestos manufacturers emerging from bankruptcy and has worked on numerous Trust Advisory Committees. 

Currently, Joe serves on the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee for MDL 2179 In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010. As a lead negotiator, he helped reach the two settlements with BP, one of which is the largest civil class action settlement in U.S. history.

Joe also currently directs the Motley Rice securities litigation team in securities fraud litigation, shareholder derivative cases and actions against proposed merger and acquisition transactions. He is sought by investment funds for guidance on strategies to increase shareholder value and enhance corporate governance reforms and asset recovery through litigation.

Joe continues to negotiate on behalf of the firm's clients in anti-terrorism and human rights, environmental, drugs, devices and catastrophic injury cases. He held a crucial role in executing the strategic mediations and/or resolutions in more than 50 aviation liability and damages cases against multiple defendants on behalf of families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks who opted out of the Victim Compensation Fund. In addition to providing greater answers, accountability and recourse to victims' families, the resulting settlements shattered a settlement matrix developed and utilized for decades, and the litigation helped provide public access to evidence in an archive of selected discovery materials gathered in the litigation.

A frequent guest speaker, Joe has presented at numerous conferences and seminars nationwide, including the National Asbestos Litigation Conference, the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems, the Public Funds Summit, Class Action Settlements: Approval, Distribution and Oversight Workshop and several asbestos bankruptcy and complex litigation conferences.

Described as one of the nation's "five most feared and respected plaintiffs' lawyers in corporate America" in a poll of defense counsel and legal scholars conducted by Corporate Legal Times, Joe was cited time after time as one of the toughest, sharpest and hardest-working litigators they have faced. As the article notes, "For all his talents as a shrewd negotiator ... Rice has earned most of his respect from playing fair and remaining humble."Recognized as an AV® rated attorney by Martindale-Hubbell®,  The American Lawyer described Joe in 2006 as "one of the shrewdest businessmen practicing law."

In 1999 and 2000, he served on the faculty at Duke University School of Law as a Senior Lecturing Fellow, and he has taught classes at the University of South Carolina School of Law, Duke University School of Law and Charleston School of Law on the art of negotiating. Joe serves his community through several organizations, including First Tee of Greater Charleston, the Center for Birds of Prey and the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children's Center, for which he co-chaired the inaugural Campaign for the Next Child. In 2010, MUSC Children's Hospital honored Joe with its Johnnie Dodds Award for his longtime support of its annual Bulls Bay Golf Challenge Fundraiser and continued work on behalf of our community's children. The University of South Carolina awarded Joe and his family with its 2011 Garnet Award for their passion for and devotion to Gamecock athletics. Joe was also awarded the 2011 Tom Fazio Service to Golf Award in recognition of his efforts to help promote the SC Junior Golf Association Programs.

Awards and Accolades:

Best Lawyers®
2013  “Lawyer of the Year” Charleston, SC: mass tort litigation/class actions – plaintiffs
2007–present  The Best Lawyers in America®: mass tort litigation/class actions – plaintiffs

Benchmark Plaintiff
2012–2013  National “Litigation Star”: mass tort/product liability
2012–2014   South Carolina “Litigation Star”: environmental, mass tort/product liability

2008–2014  South Carolina Super Lawyers® list

SC Lawyers Weekly
2012  Leadership in Law Award

University of South Carolina School of Law Alumni Association
2011  Platinum Compleat Lawyer Award

The Legal 500 United States
2011–2012  Mass tort and class action: plaintiff representation – toxic tort

The National Trial Lawyers
2010  Top 100 Trial Lawyers™ – South Carolina

National Association of Attorneys General
1998  President’s Award


American Association for Justice
American Bar Association
American Inns of Court
American Constitution Society for Law and Policy
South Carolina Association for Justice

* The Best Lawyers in America® 2014 (Copyright 2013 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, S.C.)

* Please remember that every case is different. Although it endorses this lawyer, The Legal 500 United States is not a Motley Rice client. Any result we achieve for one client in one matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.