Robert J. McConnell

Bob McConnell’s practice concentrates on lead pigment litigation, childhood lead poisoning cases, groundwater and soil contamination cases and other toxic environmental litigation. He represents victims seeking corporate accountability as a result of personal injury, property damage and economic loss as a result of negligent environmental practices.


Bob was a member of the trial team in the landmark trial on behalf of the state of Rhode Island against corporate defendants from the lead paint industry. He secured the largest lead paint poisoning settlement in Rhode Island on behalf of a child and continues to represent children injured by lead poisoning against property owners, governmental agencies and lead pigment companies. He also played a leading role in a statewide lobbying effort to defeat legislation that would have denied lead-poisoned children and their families the right to seek justice. Through testimony, analysis and grassroots outreach, he helped the Rhode Island legislature pass a bill helping to prevent childhood lead poisoning without infringing on victims’ rights. 

In 2005, he successfully argued the precedent-setting case Thomas v. Mallett 285 Wis 2d 236 as part of the Motley Rice trial team applying risk contribution theory to the lead paint industry before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. More recently, Bob represented more than 100 residents of Tiverton, R.I., in an environmental contamination lawsuit against a major New England utility company. 

With more than two decades of experience in asbestos litigation, Bob also represents victims of asbestos exposure suffering from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. He has managed large consolidation trials in several states including Maryland, Mississippi and West Virginia. 

After beginning his career as a teacher, Bob earned a law degree and clerked for the Honorable Donald F. Shea of the Rhode Island Supreme Court. He joined Motley Rice attorneys on the tobacco litigation team representing multiple state attorneys general, which resulted in the historic Master Settlement Agreement between the states and the tobacco industry. 

Highly active in the Rhode Island community, Bob serves as board vice chairman of The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence, an organization that seeks to promote nonviolence among young people in Rhode Island’s inner cities. He is also a board member for the George Wiley Center, which advocates for the rights of low income Rhode Island citizens, and the Fund for Community Progress, an organization that supports 26 grassroots organizations working for long-term community change. 

Bob frequently speaks about lead paint litigation to local and regional groups such as the Rhode Island Bar Association and the Northeast Conference of Attorneys General. He is recognized as an AV® rated attorney by Martindale-Hubbell®.

Open Bio


J.D., Suffolk University School of Law, 1987

A.B., Brown University, 1979


American Association for Justice

American Bar Association

Licensed In

  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island

Admitted to Practice Before

U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, District of Rhode Island

Awards and Accolades

2009–2022 Mass tort litigation/class actions – plaintiffs

2008–2021 Rhode Island Super Lawyers list
Class action/mass torts; Environmental litigation; Personal injury – general: plaintiff

2012–2014 Rhode Island “Litigation Star”: environmental and toxic tort

2015 Mass tort and class action: plaintiff representation – toxic tort
*Although it endorses this lawyer, The Legal 500 United States is not a Motley Rice client.