Terry Richardson Honored with the 2020 War Horse Award
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana — RPWB founding attorney Terry Richardson was honored with the War Horse Award by the Southern Trial Lawyers Association this week, a distinction recognizing his contributions to the legal profession over the past 40 years.
From the nameplate on his desk (“Illegitimis non carborundum” – Don’t let the bastards wear you down) to his famous work ethic and the fact he seems to know everyone in South Carolina, Terry Richardson is as unique a character as you will find in the legal profession.
In his 40 years of plaintiff work, he is a scion of South Carolina’s legal and political scene, albeit one equally at ease among the legal elite or cheering on the Barnwell Warhorse football team in the same farm town where he was born.
Quite simply, it doesn’t get any more South Carolina than Terry Richardson.
But Terry’s work has stretched far beyond the borders of the Palmetto State. He and his law partner, the late Ron Motley, were among the first to successfully take on asbestos lawsuits as product liability cases in the early 1970s. After settling a few, but spending much more than they were bringing in, other partners at the small town firm became nervous. Terry felt so strongly about the work he was doing that he took out a personal loan to keep it going. In 1974, his bet would pay off when he and Motley, uncovered the legendary Sumner Simpson papers showing that asbestos manufacturers were well aware of the deadly health consequences of their products. Their discovery and the aftermath of litigating asbestos cases in all 50 states would make both men pioneers in the burgeoning world of product liability litigation.
Asbestos would not be Terry’s last foray into confronting a national health crisis. In the 1990s, he and his law partners turned their attention to Big Tobacco. Terry managed the firm during this time and grew the firm Ness, Motley, Loadholt, Richardson & Poole to include about 75 attorneys and hundreds of support staff throughout the country. While some of the other attorneys involved in the tobacco litigation were higher profile, Terry remained behind the scenes managing the firm, lobbying Congress and in his words, “getting the right personalities in the right place.”
Ultimately, the litigation led to the $206 billion Tobacco Master Settlement, which reimbursed states for smoking-related healthcare expenses and funded successful anti-smoking campaigns that continue to this day. After the firm achieved the landmark Tobacco Master Settlement, four of the six shareholders left to create Richardson, Patrick, Westbrook & Brickman, which Richardson managed in the early years.
With all of his success at a national level, you might think Terry would have slowed down, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Terry, now age 74, continues to help people throughout the Southeastern United States who have been hurt or wronged through no fault of their own. He maintains a busy practice and a hectic work schedule, often carrying two cell phones so that he can multitask.
Recently, Terry was a major player in class action litigation against two of South Carolina’s electric utilities after a failed nuclear project had extracted roughly $9 billion from the state’s ratepayers. One of the two utilities settled class action litigation, resulting in the largest private class action settlement in South Carolina history. Customers will receive $146 million in rebates and won’t pay more than $2 billion the utilities sought to collect. Litigation against the other party is ongoing.
From agrarian roots in tiny Barnwell, Terry Richardson has played a crucial role in building one of the most sophisticated and respected law firms in the region, but his impact goes beyond the law. Terry has served his state and the legal profession on many endeavors including serving as chairman of the Nature Conservancy; winning the Compleat Lawyer Award from his alma mater, the University of South Carolina School of Law; being named Advocate of the Year by the S.C. Appleseed Legal Justice Center; and his tireless work to improve public education and access to opportunity for our state’s most disadvantaged families.
During the awards ceremony on Feb. 20th, Richardson was introduced one of his law partners, Brady Thomas, and was joined by a number of other RPWB attorneys, including Beth Burke, who served as the President of STLA this past year.
“I am proud to call Terry my colleague, mentor and friend,” Burke said. “He is one of the great legal minds of our time and I can think of no one more deserving of this award.”
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