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Charles Patrick

Taking Down Big Tobacco and Giving Back

Episode 14: Show Notes

Charles Patrick is a distinguished litigator who has played integral roles in some of the most significant public health litigation in American history, including state tobacco cases that led to the historic national master settlement of over $200 billion. He is a founding member of Rogers, Patrick, Westbrook, and Brickman (RPWB), and has tried more than 50 individual asbestos cases and four mass asbestos consolidations. Outside of his law practice, Charles and his wife own Patrick Properties, a hospitality company that owns and operates several Charleston-area special events venues, including the American Theatre and Lowndes Grove. He is also Laura’s father and, in today’s interview, she learns along with us about the pivotal role her dad played in holding big tobacco accountable for causing the largest public health crisis in the world. Tuning in, you’ll discover how Charles was responsible for handling Jeffrey Wigand prior to his whistleblowing testimony, as detailed in the movie, The Insider. You’ll also gain some insight into his relationship with the King of Torts, Ron Motley, and Charles shares his passion for social justice, what inspired him to support the arts, and where he would go if he could visit any place in history, plus so much more! Make sure not to miss this fascinating conversation full of remarkable stories with the one and only, Charles Patrick!

Key Points From This Episode:

• Insight into Charles’ background and how he ended up in Charleston, South Carolina.

• How Charles believes growing up in Jonesville influenced who he is today.

• Philosophies about education and hard work that were echoed in his household growing up.

• The story of what led Charles to his first asbestos litigation while he was still in law school.

• His early work with Terry Richardson and Ron Motley in what is known as tort law.

• An understanding of how he and his firm came to hold tobacco accountable for causing the largest public health crisis in the world.

• Why previous cases against tobacco companies on behalf of individuals weren’t successful.

• The pivotal role Charles played in crafting legal theories and building the evidence required.

• Learn more about the master tobacco settlement of over $200 billion, how it came about, and how it ultimately changed the law.

• Hear why Charles believes that the settlement was equivalent to an admission of guilt.

• Appreciating the difference that Charles and his firm made and the impact of the settlement.

• The role he played in getting Jeffrey Wigand’s testimony, as detailed in the movie The Insider.

• Why Charles and other founding members of RPBW decided to leave and start their own firm.

• A description of Ron Motley, the King of Torts, from Charles’ perspective.

• How Charles and his family were affected by the settlement, given his time on the road.

• Some insight into Charles’ passion for social justice and his drive to give back.

• What inspired him to support the arts and jumpstart the revitalization of King Street.

• His response to some of the backlash they received for ‘whitewashing history.’

• The story of Denmark Vesey at Lowndes Grove, who famously bought his freedom.

• Question of the day: where Charles would go if he could visit any place in history!

• Unpacking some of our major takeaways from today’s fascinating conversation.


“It became abundantly clear to me that cigarette smoking was a really bad thing and it was causing a lot of disease and killing a lot of people. Both Ron [Motley] and I learned a lot through the asbestos litigation about how bad cigarette smoking was.” — Charles Patrick [0:25:00]

“The tobacco companies were faced with multiple lawsuits by [so many] states that it was [overwhelming], even for them.” — Charles Patrick [0:33:22]

“These were all documents that clearly demonstrated that [tobacco companies] were deceiving the public, that they knew that cigarettes cause cancer, they knew that they were very addictive, that a cigarette was just basically a drug delivery device delivering nicotine.” — Charles Patrick [0:35:55]

“I felt like it was my duty to give back to people, especially [to] groups like the Charleston Promise Neighborhood, where people live in poverty in the Charleston area on the other side of Mount Pleasant where everyone is making tons of money.” — Charles Patrick [1:10:55]

“I’m worried now, based on the state of our politics, that we’re going to lose our democracy. I really do worry about that. I’m worried, sometimes, that people go back and say, ‘It’s in the constitution.’ ‘It says this’ or ‘It doesn’t say this.’” — Charles Patrick [1:30:39]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

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