From a caseload perspective, it was a typical year at Motley Rice — a mixture of successful high-stakes complex civil litigation, case resolution and cause-based work that included a multimillion-dollar settlement in a high-profile wrongful death suit on behalf of a Chinese immigration detainee.

From a family perspective, it was anything but. Namesake partner Ronald Motley died on August 22 after a lengthy illness. “I really don’t look at it as losing a partner. I lost a brother,” said firm co-founder Joseph Rice, who said Motley had been actively advising fellow attorneys right until the end.

The 70-attorney firm, based in Mount Pleasant, S.C., focuses on litigation involving securities and consumer fraud, anti-terrorism and human rights, aviation, catastrophic injuries, medical drugs and devices and environmental contamination. In February, a New Jersey federal judge gave final approval to a $164 million settlement in a mediation of a securities fraud case against Pharmacia Corp. (now part of Pfizer Inc.) regarding false statements about its drug Celebrex. Motley’s client, PACE Industry Union-Industry Management Pension Fund, was among five class representatives. Said co-counsel Patrick Coughlin of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, “I’ve known Joe Rice for a long time — he’s one of the top negotiators in the country and has been for some time. They did excellent work on this case.”

Motley Rice attorneys Robert McCon­nell and Fidelma Fitzpatrick joined the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island in securing what the firm called a “substantial” award for the family of Jason Ng, who allegedly was subjected to extreme physical and mental abuse and torture while in custody at an immigration detention center in Central Falls, R.I. The ACLU’s Steven Brown praised Motley Rice’s work. “There aren’t enough large firms doing this kind of work,” he said. “They’ve got a real commitment to this.”