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 the Deepwater Horizon oil spill MDL 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." Joe was named the Best Lawyers'® 2013 Charleston-SC Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions- Plaintiffs "Lawyer of the Year," and he was a 2012 recipient of the SC Lawyers Weekly Leadership in Law Award. In 2011, the University of South Carolina School of Law Alumni Association honored him with its platinum Compleat Lawyer Award, and he was highlighted in the 2011 and 2012 Litigation editions of The Legal 500 United States (mass tort and class action: plaintiff representation- toxic tort). The 2012 and 2013 editions of Benchmark Plaintiff, The Definitive Guide to America's Leading Plaintiff Firms & Attorneys recognized Joe as a "Litigation Star" in its national rankings for mass tort/product liability, as well as its South Carolina rankings in environmental, mass tort and product liability. Recognized as an AV® rated attorney by Martindale-Hubbell®, he has been selected by his peers for inclusion in each annual edition of The Best Lawyers in America® since 2007 for his work in mass tort litigation/class actions- plaintiffs. He has been included in every edition of South Carolina Super Lawyers® since 2008 and, in 2010, was named by The National Trial Lawyers as one of its Top 100 Trial Lawyers™ in South Carolina. The American Lawyer described Joe in 2006 as "one of the shrewdest businessmen practicing law."
In 1998, Joe received the President's Award of the National Association of Attorneys General. 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.
He is a member of the American Association for Justice, American Bar Association, American Inns of Court, South Carolina Association for Justice and the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.
* 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.