Following my graduation from NYU Law School, I spent four years in the Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps; conducting dozens of court-martial trials, I quickly learned how to try (and sometimes how not to try) cases. I then spent 45 years with a series of three New York City law firms where I tried cases and argued appeals throughout the country for major corporations in the pharmaceutical and consumer products field.
Now, I have always loved novels and had always wanted to write one. In fact, when I was in the Air Force I wrote a “spy” novel; fortunately, the three publishers I sent it to all turned it down. So, when I was a year away from retirement, I began thinking of writing a novel about a field I actually knew something about: modern American litigation. From the start I wanted it to be a satire; I had no desire to write yet another legal thriller—they’re a dime a dozen—or a serious book about the law that no one would read.
Who doesn’t love a good joke about lawyers?
That was the thinking that led T.C. Morrison to publish his first book, “TORT$ ‘R’ US,” debuting the memorable pairing of Pap and Pup. Since then, he’s found great success in his series of farcical legal shenanigans, continuing with his latest release, “Send in The Tort Lawyer$,” available on Sept. 12 through iBooks.
In this interview, Morrison talks about the continuation of the series, how his 45-year legal career spawned the book series, and his satirical take on the legal profession.
By Mackenzie Dawson, New York Post, December 5, 2021.
After spending 50 years practicing law, Tom Morrison knew exactly what he wanted to do: Write satirical novels about lawyers. “I tried writing a spy novel once, but I knew nothing about that. And I didn’t want to write a legal thriller,” says Morrison, who writes under the name TC Morrison. “There’s a lot of fun in the legal world. I think a lot of lawsuits are funny and amusing. So I wanted to write a farce about litigation.”
And write he did.
His newest book is “Please Pass the Tort$,” the sequel to “Tort$ ‘R’ Us,” and features the zany exploits of twin brothers Patrick A. “Pap” and Prescott U. “Pup” Peters, who leave their stodgy law firms to start their own plaintiffs’ class action firm in the belief that it will be an ideal way to make more money and have more fun.
“I think a lot of lawyers tend to be stuffy and full of themselves, thinking everything they do is immensely important. Lawyers do a lot of good work, but there’s a lot of humor in what we do,” says Morrison.
“People love jokes about lawyers, and it’s because so many take themselves so seriously. So many of them are stuffy and pompous, and I thought it would be good to puncture the balloon of trial lawyers, particularly in the class action field.”
Several cases he chronicles in the book were taken from his own career, including one against the breath-freshening product BreathAsure. “We sued them for false advertising. Their whole ad campaign was totally bogus,” says Morrison. “We found an expert witness who was a premiere expert on bad breath. And he convinced the court that bad breath was in the mouth, not the stomach, as the product claimed. In the settlement, the company agreed to drop 23 of its advertising claims, including the claim, ‘It works.’”
In another escapade recounted in the book, a class action lawsuit is filed against the KGB and the Russian government for entrapping a US congressman in a so-called Honey Trap.
“I got the idea for a lot of the class action cases from articles I read in the New York Post,” notes Morrison.
See article here.
October 18, 2021
Renowned New York trial and appellate lawyer Thomas Morrison, known as the Dean of False Advertising Law, spent five decades in the courtroom where he argued and won numerous high-profile trials for major consumer brands such as Pizza Hut, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Hertz. Please Pass The Tort$ is the second installment in Morrison’s new career as a writer of legal farce. His books concoct numerous outrageous cases featuring fun-loving lawyers, wacky clients and exasperated judges, mainly in the class action field where most modern cases benefit no one except lawyers.
“I thought it would be fun to take actual events from the world of modern litigation and twist them into farcical episodes,” said Morrison. ”I also believe there is much laughter in the litigation world, including some of my own amusing cases. In both of my books I capitalize on my years of experience trying and defending cases for large corporations.”
Please Pass The Tort$ allows the reader to follow two twin brothers, Patrick A. Peters (“Pap”) and Prescott U. Peters (“Pup”) both lawyers with a distinctive eye for opportunity. Pap convinces Pup, who is a good attorney despite having gone to Yale Law School, that they should leave their respective big-firm practices in New York City to start up a hopefully lucrative practice as plaintiffs’ class action lawyers.
The brothers meet a variety of zany people as they embark on a resourceful and unique approach to lawyer-client relationships, all inspired by actual court cases and current events.
Written with humor and parlance that only comes from a depth of legal experience, Morrison captures the trials and tribulations of human behavior that strike a chord with every reader.
Please Pass The Tort$ is a sequel to Tort$ ”R” Us, which received dozens of gold star reviews on Amazon. You can learn more about the book by clicking here www.tortsmediakit.com or you may purchase the book on Amazon.
TriCornerNews: from The Lakeville Journal and The Millerton News
December 23, 2020
By PATRICK L. SULLIVAN
Tom Morrison, of Salisbury, Conn., lampoons the legal world in his first novel, “Torts ‘R’ Us,” published this fall and available at Oblong Books in Millerton, N.Y., and Salisbury Pharmacy.
Morrison will discuss the book with Bill Littauer, a retired network newsman who also lives in Salisbury, at an online event sponsored by Noble Horizons (also in Salisbury, Conn.) on Thursday, Jan. 7, at7 p.m. (go to www.noblehorizons.org for details.)
The story revolves around the Peters brothers, Patrick A. (known as “Pap”) and Prescott U. (aka “Pup”) as they leave their comfortable perches in established New York law firms and start their own firm, specializing in class-action lawsuits.
This in turn takes them to New York City strip clubs and to the murky world of Midwestern college basketball.
Along the way there’s a woman who does battle with environmentalists over geese removal, a website that publishes mugshots, and a pulchritudinous paralegal.
If it all sounds somewhat familiar, that’s because the various subplots are “inspired by real cases,” Morrison said in a phone interview.
Asked why an experienced, respectable attorney nearing his well-earned retirement would write a broadly farcical novel making fun of his profession, Morrison was clear: “Lawyers take themselves too seriously.”
Although in his half-century of practice he didn’t do much class-action work, Morrison said he believed that many such lawsuits are frivolous “and should not be brought.”
Referring to the phenomenon of a person receiving a letter inviting the recipient to participate in a class-action suit, Morrison said most of the money from a victory will go to the lawyers involved.
“You’ll get $1.78 and some coupons.”
(Such as the Victoria’s Secret gift certificate which is part of the settlement for the book’s strippers.)
Morrison has a lot of fun with names — the incontestably preppy Pap and Pup, the well-known pharmaceutical company Jumpsum and Gypsum, busybody Nina Nosenyourbus and the Friends of Geese, Groundhogs and Yaks (FROGGY).
Asked if he was worried that his satire might strike someone as actionable, Morrison was sanguine.
“I wish they would,” he laughed. “It would increase sales.”
And for those who don’t agree with the words, “It’s only funny until someone files a lawsuit,” there are now virtual online tours of Ralph Nader’s American Museum of Tort Law in his hometown of Winsted, Conn. Famous tort law cases are explained in snappy short text boxes illustrated with cartoons. Go to www.tortmuseum.org.
Local Author Unearths the Follies of the Legal World in Bombshell new Satire
What’s left to do — but laugh? In a year filled with overbearing consternation, uncertainty and yes, tragedy, we could all benefit from literary escape as we inch closer toward a new year. Luckily for readers in the Tri-Corner, a new author has burst onto the scene with a scathingly funny satire that taps into a part of modern society rife with humorous potential. For over four decades, former attorney Thomas “T.C.” Morrison litigated cases involving a broad range of commercial cases, including False Advertising and Trademark and Trade Dress infringement, working for the firm Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler.
After his time observed a few cases laden with faux damages and righteous indignation meant to reward bank accounts rather than a moral sense of truth and justice, Morrison used his experience, in his retirement, to write his first book, Torts “R” Us, taking a humorous look at these types of cases, as well as the attorneys who take them on.
The story follows Patrick A. Peters (“Pap”) and his twin brother Prescott U. Peters (“Pup”), two perceptive attorneys who meet a variety of clients, judges, and lawyers as they embark on a resourceful and unique approach to lawyer-client relationships all inspired by actual court cases. Morrison draws upon research as well as a few cases he litigated personally to pull back the proverbial curtain on the nature of class-action lawsuits. In doing so, Morrison allows the reader the kind of middle-ground that has become so hard to achieve in modern entertainment. A delightful irreverence mixed with a subtle, yet dutifully poignant message that feels inclusive rather than polarizing.
The Lakeville, Connecticut author was kind enough to sit down with Main Street to discuss the journey toward his first novel, his time as a discerning attorney and his new life in Northwest Connecticut.
Being an Ohio native, how did you find your way up the Eastern seaboard and to our little corner of the world in Lakeville, Connecticut?
Like most things in life, that is an interesting story. I practiced law in New York City for over forty years after my time serving in the United States Air Force. I was a litigator in a number of places but spent most of my career with one firm — Belknap Webb & Tyler. The “case” if you will, that became a benchmark for me was a suit involving a small clothing manufacturer in Bantom, Connecticut. The suit started out in surrogate courts in Nassau County, New York, but because the company was located in Litchfield County, I was in need of local counsel for that part of the case that was heard in Connecticut.
I was eventually recommended to a firm here in Lakeville so I drove up on a Saturday and was struck by the beauty of this place — I still am today. Fast-forward thirty-five years and my wife and I were thinking about retiring so I brought her up here and she immediately fell in love as well. Today I feel as though I am living happily ever after as they say.
Being an attorney for so many years, undoubtedly you must have been buried in litigation and paperwork at some point. Did those moments become your motivation to eventually write a novel?
The journey toward Torts “R” Us, my first novel, was a combination of factors. I can safely say I have always wanted to write a novel. During my time in the Air Force, as a result of having a bit of free time on my hands, I wrote something of a spy novel — as if I know anything about spy novels. As is the case with many aspiring novelists, I passed it out to a few publishers and never got a response.
Forty-five years later, as I was getting ready to retire from my career in law, I had a little episode with some friends here in Salisbury. There is a wonderful community of artists who live in this area and many who create greeting cards using their photographs or paintings. I happened upon one of these greeting cards one day in a small local shop. The card had a photo on the front that was a spitting image of one of my friends. I bought the card and mailed it to my friend along with my business card saying jokingly that I had discovered an artist who was using their likeness without permission and would be happy to represent them in a lawsuit. That contact initiated a stream of creative emails that went back and forth between us and became a little short story about the phony lawsuit. Finally, my friend suggested the inevitable, “you ought to write a book about this sort of thing.” It turns out, though I don’t know much about international spies, I know a bit about lawyers and litigation. So I put mind to it and had a lot of fun writing my first book.
How did the idea of making Torts “R” Us a satire come about?
Well, frankly, I’ve always thought that lawyers have a habit of taking themselves too seriously. That’s not to say I didn’t love being a lawyer myself. It was the job of a lifetime and I enjoyed trying cases all over the country immensely. However, even in a field that revolves around the idea of staying true to, and upholding the law, I found some of my cases to be humorous. So the idea of a satire, or a farce to be more precise, about modern litigation seemed almost natural.
The cases that appear in the first third of the book are based on cases that I litigated during my time as an attorney. The heart of the book however revolves around three class-action lawsuits that I had previously read about. They are indeed bizarre and reinforce the idea that life is stranger than fiction so I fine-tuned them as much as I could and made them the crux of the novel.
The first and most important objective of the book is humor. I wanted people to read the novel and laugh. But there is a bit of a message hidden within the pages. At least in the class-action realm of law, there are a lot of frivolous cases that are filed that, in reality, should never be filed. Many, certainly not all, serve no rightful purpose other than to grow the bank accounts of those doing the litigating. I thought long and hard about how much I wanted to convey this idea. Class-action suits and the idea of torts themselves serve a real and important purpose in society. When it comes to life changing, impactful events like 9/11 and corporate ponzi-schemes for example that cause irreparable harm to large swaths of people, class-action suits represent one of the few paths to real justice. In the latter days of my career, I saw many cases that simply clogged up the courts and really only benefited legal teams in the end. So I tried to pick at those kinds of farcical scenarios when it came time to write the book.
Speaking of serving a purpose, you have become very active in the local community. How have you found your place with the folks who call this area home?
Both my wife and I have been deeply involved in the community and are proud to have so many welcoming neighbors and friends. I joined the Board of Directors at Music Mountain in Falls Village about seven years ago and have been very active since. My wife is part of the Salisbury Association here in town and that has brought us close with so many members of the community. A couple of years ago, I was invited by a few friends to attend a meeting on behalf of the only Republican Selectman in our area. A discussion came about regarding the former Salisbury Republican Town Committee and how and why it had gone away. The Northwestern portion of Connecticut is full of diverse groups of people with similarly diverse politics. So we decided to revive this committee based around the idea of representing a responsible, inclusive side to the Republican Party locally. We reformed the committee in 2018 and were active in the State elections that year, the local elections in 2019 and of course this year. Our objective is to create a viable second party, not to convince or divide the community that makes up this beautiful area and I think we have made some positive headway.
After the many immense undertakings you have faced and accomplished thus far, what is you hope readers take away from Torts “R” Us?
Well I hope they will laugh — and laugh a lot. I don’t think I’ve quite risen to the level of Candide and I don’t think anyone will confuse me with Joseph Heller but I have tried to make my real life experiences something that readers can absorb while enjoying themselves. I think this year especially, with so many folks living in isolation or going to work uncertain what each day will bring, my hope is to unite minds around good humor — because we all need some right now.
And to find out more about the author himself, visit tortsrusbook.com
As seen in the Connecticut Post Online, the Greenwich Time, the Stamford Advocate, the News Times, and the Register Citizen.
LAKEVILLE — During his long career, attorney Thomas “T.C.” Morrison litigated cases involving trademark and trade infringement, working for the firm Belknap Webb & Tyler. He helped the firm pioneer the field of false advertising, where national advertisers can sue competitors for false or unsubstantiated claims.
The experience led Morrison, in his retirement, to write his first book, “Torts ‘R’ Us,” which takes a humorous look at these types of cases, as well as the attorneys who take them on.
The characters, brothers named Patrick A. Peters (“Pap”) and his twin brother Prescott U. Peters (“Pup”), are lawyers “with a distinctive eye for opportunity,” Morrison said. Pap convinces Pup, who is a good lawyer, that they should leave their respective big-firm practices in New York City to start a practice as class-action lawyers. The brothers meet a variety of clients, judges and lawyers as they embark on a resourceful and unique approach to lawyer-client relationships
“The book has 34 chapters, and the first 12 or so are background stories about the lawyers,” Morrison said. “They grew up in Greenwich, and worked for big law firms, but they got bored and started this class-action law firm. All of the cases that are involved are in those early chapters; they are based on cases that I actually handled.”
The cases Morrison details in his novel are “quite amusing” he said.
“For example, one of the cases is called Breath Magic, and it mirrors a case that I tried in the 1990s. It was a false advertising case. My client made a series of mints and gum for bad breath. The defendant was from South Africa, and he claimed that bad breath originates from the stomach, not the mouth. Of course, that’s not true, but he created Breath Assure, saying that mints and gums weren’t getting at the problem. It was a totally bogus argument.”
In the real case, Morrison found an expert on bad breath, who had written a book with the same title. “We had a trial in New Jersey, and after about three days, the (defendant’s) lawyers asked for a continuance, and came back with a settlement agreement. They dropped 23 of the 24 claims. They can no longer say that ‘Breath Assure works,’” Morrison said.
“That’s what false advertisement laws are for,” he said. “This is a fairly wild case, in my judgment, because it was so ridiculous. I realized I was involved in a lot of humorous cases.”
A Columbus, Ohio, native, Morrison began his career after graduating from Otterbein University in Ohio and New York University Law School, where he was a Root-Tilden Scholar. He served active duty as a legal officer in the Air Force for four years, and then joined the New York City law firm of Rogers & Wells, becoming a partner in 1975. In 1977, he moved to Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, and spent the next 34 years trying cases and arguing appeals around the country.
During the last five years of his career, Morrison joined a New York law office of a Los Angeles-based firm, where most of their cases were based on advertising class-action suits.
“Companies were suing for false advertising,” he said. “The company spends its money, and it either wins or loses. The cases were brought to my clients for really frivolous things. … For example, something wasn’t natural because of one minuscule ingredient, or because something wasn’t fresh.
“These cases might have been interesting for a look from the Federal Trade Commission, at labeling, for example, but the amount of federal class actions, on behalf of consumers, doesn’t really work out. Guess who benefits?” he said. “The lawyers do. The average consumers get a few dollars, maybe a coupon.
“I started thinking, these cases are ridiculous. They clog the courts, and drive up the costs. That’s what really got me interested in the class-action side of my book,’ he said.
“Torts ‘R’ Us” is a satirical farce, Morrison said.
“Everyone in the stories are a bit farcical; the lawyers, the judges, the clients,” he said. But the underlying message is that “our class-action system has gone a big awry. Class actions serve a legitimate purpose if you’re talking about plane crashes, or bombings, or the Bernie Madoff scandal. That’s what class actions are designed to deal with, and that’s the underlying thesis of the book, even though it’s done in a humorous manner.”
Since it was published Aug. 19, “Torts ‘R’ Us” is receiving positive reviews on Amazon, where it can be purchased. “The trick on Amazon is to get good reviews, so that Amazon will begin to promote it,” Morrison said. “There are 29 reviews, and 28 are five stars. They’re quite good — the reviews are witty and humorous. From that standpoint, I’m very pleased.”
He took part in a podcast recently with a reporter from the Washington Times, and is planning another soon. Once the pandemic calms down, the author hopes to give some in-person talks, perhaps at local bookstores and libraries.
Although “Torts ‘R’ Us” is his first book, it’s not his first attempt at writing. “When I was in the Air Force, I actually wrote a spy novel,” he said. “I sent it to one or two publishers; they turned it down, and I didn’t really pursue it. What do I know about spy novels anyway?”
Instead, he focused on his litigation, and wrote many, many briefs. “The trick in writing briefs is to write them in plain English,” he said. “You’re trying to convince a judge, so it’s important. I concentrated on that, and read a lot of books and heard lectures about writing. I enjoyed being in court, of course, but I loved to write.”
Morrison discovered Litchfield County while he was practicing law in New York. “It was my career that introduced me to the northwest corner of Connecticut,” he explained. “I was involved in a surrogate court case in New Jersey, but it involved a family-owned business, Bantam Mills. When the father died, he left unclear instructions on who was to run the business. My client was one of three sisters, and she wanted to be in charge, but another sister was president of the company. We had 12 lawsuits in courts all over New York and Connecticut, until it was resolved.
“Because I wasn’t admitted to practice in Connecticut, I hooked with an attorney in Lakeville, and we worked at the Litchfield County Courthouse, that beautiful historic building in the center of Litchfield,” Morrison said. “I loved the area.”
He then introduced his wife, Sarah, to the northwest corner. “She fell in love with the area,” he said, and the couple had their retirement home built in Lakeville in 2007. “We didn’t move here full-time until I retired at the end of 2015,” he said. “Until then, it was our weekend home.”
The Morrisons are happy in their new home. “I enjoyed growing up in Columbus, and I lived in Stamford and Weston, but I’ve never been happier than in Lakeville,” Morrison said. The couple has an adult son ,who is a congressional staff member in Washington, D.C., and Morrison has two older sons from his first marriage.
After settling in Lakeville as full-time residents, the Morrisons found ways to get involved in the community.
“In my case, I’m on the board at Music Mountain, the oldest chamber music festival in the country, and I’m chairman of the Lakeville Republican Town Committee,” he said. “We actually reinstituted the committee in 2018; it had gone dormant. The committee was extremely conservative, and this town is not conservative. … So a group of us got together, and said, let’s resurrect it. It’s going well; we’re badly outnumbered, since there’s less than 500 registered Republicans in town, and many are unaffiliated or Democrat.
“My wife, Sarah, is very active with the Salisbury Association,” Morrison said. “Almost everyone is a registered Democrat, and they tell her how they’re so glad we’ve resurrected the Republican Town Committee.”