In the interview, T.C. Morrison shares hilarious stories of past cases he’s tried that “are crazy enough they should be in his book, including Papa John’s vs Pizza Hut over the slogan “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza.””
T.C. Morrison recently interviewed with the National Tort Museum Director, Rick Newman, sharing his inspiration for the book, insights from his legal career, and the type of humorous adventure readers should expect from Torts R Us.
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.”
T. C. Morrison was interviewed by The Washington Times’ Cheryl K. Chumley on her podcast, “Bold & Blunt.” Listen below to hear Morrison’s take on how frivolous lawsuits tie-up the legal system and distract from the necessary litigation that serves the greater public good.
Episode: “Tort Troubles, and the Padding of Lawyers’ Pockets”
Episode description: “The state of America’s legal system, including its abundance of costly, oft-frivolous class action suits, has left the defendant in the dust, the plaintiff in near-poverty, and citizens paying to pad Big Lawyers’ pockets. Tom “T.C.” Morrison has something to make us laugh — a “Torts ‘R’ Us” book of satire about the legal system that draws on his 50 years in the field. When all else fails, it’s good to laugh.”
T.C. Morrison’s first book, Torts R Us: A Legal Farce, is available on Amazon starting today. In the book, Morrison, a renowned trial and appellate lawyer for almost 50 years who has been described as the “dean of false advertising litigation,” humorously explores the modern American legal system through a series of bizarre lawsuits.
The book satirizes our modern legal system from a variety of absurd angles, featuring wacky lawsuits, venal plaintiffs, double-talking trial lawyers, and much more. From a case involving lap dancers at three gentleman’s clubs — “Tops Down,” “Bottoms Up” and “Below the Belt” — to another with a defendant accused of shooting at geese with an “assault weapon,” the book bounces around from hilarious case to hilarious case. The best part? Each one is derived from real court cases, some from Morrison’s own legal career.
The legal world is already embracing the book. Maureen Bateman, former General Counsel of United States Trust Company and also General Counsel of State Street Bank and Trust Company, says, “I recommend this book absolutely – it treats our human condition with humor and laughter, while making some important points about our legal system!”
Harry Woods, a renowned trial lawyer and former President of the Oklahoma Bar Association, agrees: “Torts ‘R Us is highly readable and entertaining. From beginning to end, the farce flows brilliantly. It hooks the reader early on, and Morrison sustains the high level of humor and spoofing, page after page, masterfully presenting factual situations and characters, who communicate with a sustained flow of unusually humorous plays on names, words and concepts.”
After graduating from New York University Law School where he was a Root-Tilden Scholar, T.C. Morrison helped Patterson Belknap pioneer the field of false advertising litigation. Many of his cases in this field, as well as the field of trademark and trade dress infringement, have become landmarks.
Published by iBooks, an imprint of J Boylston & Company, Publishers, Torts R Us: A Legal Farce is a must-read for any lawyer, law student, tort reformer or anyone else that likes to laugh. You can learn more about Torts R Us: A Legal Farce at tortsrusbook.com and purchase the book on Amazon.
Last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against the National Rifle Association, looking to dissolve the nonprofit. Hours later, the NRA filed a lawsuit of its own, alleging James “made the political prosecution of the NRA a central campaign theme” during a run for office in 2018. Regardless of the eventual outcome, this spat will end with thousands of taxpayer dollars being spent and both parties in the same place they started: highlighting the absurdity of some aspects of the American legal system.
T.C. Morrison, a renowned trial and appellate lawyer for almost 50 years who has been described as the “dean of false advertising litigation,” humorously explores a series of bizarre lawsuits in his forthcoming book, Torts R Us: A Legal Farce.
After graduating from New York University Law School where he was a Root-Tilden Scholar, Morrison helped Patterson Belknap pioneer the field of false advertising litigation. Many of his cases in this field, as well as the field of trademark and trade dress infringement, have become landmarks.
The book satirizes our modern legal system from a variety of absurd angles, featuring wacky lawsuits, venal plaintiffs, double-talking trial lawyers, and much more.
Written with humor and insider parlance that only comes from decades of legal experience, Morrison captures the trials and tribulations of human behavior that will strike a chord with every reader.
The story follows two twin brothers, Pup and Pap, as they hilariously navigate the legal world. Forming their own firm, Peters and Peters, the brothers consistently find themselves in interesting predicaments and engage in some of the wackiest dialogue never before heard in a courtroom. They prove particularly adept at constructing class action settlements that provide deliciously dubious benefits to class members, causing judges to scratch their heads in bewilderment.
Regardless if you are on the side of trial lawyers or a tort reform supporter, there is ample reason to pick up this book: for the mirror it holds up to the cherished American system of justice, and for the humor and enjoyment of it all.
Publishing on August 19th, you can learn more about Torts R Us: A Legal Farce at tortsrusbook.com and purchase the book exclusively on Amazon.