Home > NewsRelease > T.C. Morrison: From Law to Laughter
T.C. Morrison: From Law to Laughter
Norm Goldman --  BookPleasures.com Norm Goldman -- BookPleasures.com
Montreal, QC
Monday, September 18, 2023


Bookpleasures.com welcomesThomas Morrison, known in the literary world as T.C. Morrison, whose latest novel,  Send in The Tort Lawyer$, has recently been published. 

T.C. is an alumnus of Otterbein University (Ohio) and a New York University Law School graduate, where he proudly bore the title of Root-Tilden Scholar. 

After four years of dedicated service as a United States Air Force legal officer, T.C. embarked on a legal career that would leave an indelible mark on the legal landscape. 

He joined the prestigious New York City law firm Rogers & Wells, ultimately ascending to the rank of partner in 1975. 

In 1977, he embarked on a new chapter, finding his professional home at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, where he spent an impressive 34 years passionately litigating cases and arguing appeals nationwide.

During his tenure at Patterson Belknap, T.C. played a pivotal role in pioneering the field of false advertising, empowering national advertisers to hold their competitors accountable for deceptive claims. 

His legal acumen left an indelible legacy, with many cases of false advertising, trademark infringement, and trade dress becoming enduring landmarks in legal history.

In his last five years, he transitioned to the New York office of Manatt Phelps & Phillips, bringing his wealth of experience and legal wisdom to a new platform.

But T.C.'s journey took an unexpected twist in the final chapter of his illustrious career. Just before retiring, he embarked on a delightful adventure, crafting a comic novel that sheds light on the world of modern-day litigators and the often absurd cases they tackle. 

In his words, he believed that attorneys sometimes took themselves and their cases far too seriously. He sought to extract humor from the depths of modern litigation, especially within class action lawsuits.

The captivating twist is that every case featured in T.C.'s book draws inspiration from actual court cases, with a select few even borrowing from his own trials. 

The result - a madcap journey through the courtroom, where testimony, dialogue, and antics unfold in ways that can only be described as side-splitting. These narratives, while fictional, provide a whimsical lens through which readers can glimpse the humor and absurdity often hidden within the annals of justice.

Welcome T.C. and thanks for taking part in our interview.

Norm: What inspired you to write a satire about American litigation, drawing on your experience as a lawyer?

T.C. Well, I have always loved novels and have always wanted to write one. During my four years in the Air Force, I actually wrote a "spy" novel, but fortunately it was turned down by the three publishers I sent it to.

When I was in my final year of practice and started thinking again about writing a novel, I quickly realized I should make it about something I knew about, such as modern American litigation.

And because I have always believed there are lots of humor in our profession and in the cases we bring, I quickly seized on the idea of a novel that would take a satirical look at modern American litigation.

Norm: Satire can be a delicate genre, as it involves poking fun at real-world situations and individuals. How do you navigate the potential challenges of writing satire while maintaining respect for the subjects you're satirizing?

T.C. I try to generate humor in every character in the books –from the protagonists, twin brothers Pap and Pup Peters, to their clients, to the attorneys representing their adversaries, to the witnesses and, sometimes, even the judges.

So no one gets skewered more than another. Everyone is part of the farce. My model was Joseph Heller's Catch-22, which was a hilarious farce about the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II; the Air Corps obviously played a heroic role in the war effort and I don't believe it lost respect just because Heller satirized it in his book.

Norm: The title of your book, Send in The Tort Lawyer$, is cleverly worded. How did you come up with the title, and what significance does it hold within the context of the story?

T.C. First, it was a way to get the word "Tort" into the title, all three books in the series feature that word. Second, it was inspired by the Stephen Sondheim song "Send in the Clowns".

I trust readers will make the substitution of "tort lawyers" for "clowns".

Norm: Could you describe your writing process for this novel? How do you develop such outrageous yet believable legal scenarios?

T.C. I keep a file of amusing legal developments, and even amusing events or stories, that I run across in my daily reading; a "must read" is the New York Post, which has a knack for turning up bizarre stories and events.

I then go through those materials and select four or five topics to develop into cases that I can use in the book.

Once I've done that, the rest comes somewhat easily – taking each case from inception through investigation and then through depositions and trial, all of which I did during my 45 years of legal practice.

The real fun is in inventing the humorous dialogue, in court and out, among the lawyers, clients, witnesses and judges.

Norm: In Send in The Tort Lawyer$, you poke fun at your own profession. How do your former colleagues and legal peers react to your humorous take on the legal world?

T.C. With one exception, they all love the books and tell me they look forward to reading the next book in the series.

The one exception was a former partner who thought the characters were not realistic –which of course, they were not supposed to be. That's the whole point of farce.

Norm: Could you share some of your personal experiences as a lawyer that influenced the absurd scenarios and cases in the book?

T.C. The first third of the first book, Tort$ 'R' Us, deals with the lives and careers of the brothers before they formed their class action law firm.

The cases they handled at their respective firms were all riffs on cases that I tried during my career.

For example, a case that caught the attention of Mackensie Dawson of the New York Post involved Breath Magic (in real life Breath Assure), a purported product for bad breath.

In the book, as in the real life case, the defendant advertised the product as attacking bad breath where it allegedly originates – the stomach.

But my expert in the real life case, and in the book, explained to the judge that bad breath originates in the mouth, not the stomach.

And so the fictional defendant, like the real-life defendant, entered a settlement in which it agreed to stop making 21 specific claims – including the claim on the package that "It Works!".

Amusingly, many of my law partners had been avid users of Breath Assure; in the book, I made it the judge who had been a user of Breath Magic, but once the evidence was presented he blamed it on his smarty pants law clerk.

Norm: The book touches on lawsuits involving cryptocurrency, chocolate labeling, and non-fungible tokens. How did you choose these specific cases to satirize?

T.C. As I was pulling together material for this book, the FTX cryptocurrency scandal was just emerging and, in fact, was in the news every day for a couple of months.

The real-life story was itself totally bizarre – a 30-year-old wunderkind who dressed only in t-shirt, shorts, sandals and baseball cap and played video games on his iPhone at every meeting he attended - was suddenly the darling of Wall Street and the media and was said to be worth $16 billion.

This guy lived and worked in a multi-million-dollar luxury complex in the Bahamas with his co-workers, all of whom were in a so-called "polycule", a network of sexual relationships.

I simply didn't need to make up anything, it was all right there in real life and was perfect for a legal farce.

The "Belgian" Chocolates case is based on a real life class action against Godiva claiming that the chocolates were falsely labeled because they were not made in Belgium.

In the ensuing settlement (these cases are always settled), the members of the class received $15 each ($25 if they had a proof of purchase) and the lawyers made millions.

The nonfungible tokens ("NFT") case in the book was a way to bring back Lydia Lowlace, a former lap dancer turned Playboy centerfold turned model and everyone's favorite character, and make fun of the whole NFT phenomenon.

I first heard of NFTs when the papers announced that former President Trump had issued a set of NFTs, each carrying his image in some ridiculous posture, such as a super-hero or a suave James Bond guy in a tuxedo.

Norm: The book features recurring characters from your previous novels. What inspired you to revisit these characters, and how have they developed in this new story?

T.C. All the lawyers in the Peters law firm are back, including Chip, the favorite of all male readers. 

A former star quarterback in college, Chip is not the firm's best lawyer but he succeeds in seducing virtually every woman he meets, including – in the first book - Candy, the firm's voluptuous paralegal, and Lydia, the firm's most famous client. 

In the second book (Please Pass the Tort$) he snares (separately) the twin sisters and class members Melony Harmony and Harmony Melony. 

And now in book three he adds the client and class representative, Dee Jon – who was turned away from the Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall because her law firm was engaged in litigation with the theater's owner.

Finally, he scores again with the firm's new female associate who he had previously bedded in college.

All readers love Lydia, who creates a sensation at every press conference and on the witness stand in the courtroom – in fact the judge and court clerk in her first trial now show up to watch her testimony whenever she is back in court.

I therefore make a point of finding a case in each book where she can again play a prominent role as a plaintiff and class representative.

Mona Lott, Pap's wacky and melodramatic neighbor who played a major role in the first book, was also well-liked by readers. While she was not in the second book, I brought her back in the new one where she can pursue, and then recount to her friends, her off-the-wall wacky behavior in protest of her town's ban on lawn mowing on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. I suspect this will undoubtedly lead to a new lawsuit in a future book.

Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and Send in The Tort Lawyer$?

T.C. The best place is my website: tortsrusbook.com. It has a description of all three books, a collection of reviews, podcasts and media interviews, and also a direct link to my Amazon page where readers can purchase all three books.

Norm: What is next for T.C. Morrison?

T.C. I am already collecting material for a fourth installment in the legal antics of Pap and Pup. At the suggestion of my computer expert, who has been a big help in putting the three books together, I am looking at bringing AI into the mix. There are already some amusing AI legal stories, including a New York City lawyer who submitted a brief generated by AI that was totally irrelevant to the case, and an AI Bot who made the list of the 100 Best Lawyers in America.

Norm: As we end our interview, the class-action system is a central theme in your novel. Can you elaborate on the issues and abuses you aim to highlight within this system, and how do you hope readers will perceive it differently after reading your book?

T.C. The class action mechanism, as originally devised, is an important part of our legal system. It is the only way to handle mass torts and financial frauds involving real injury to hundreds of people - such as an airplane crash, the Bernie Madoff financial fraud and the FTX cryptocurrency scandal which, by the way, is the only case in all three books that presents a totally appropriate use of the class action mechanism.

The problem is that far too many class action cases today involve only imaginary injuries and benefit mainly the lawyers who bring them.

The worst example are in the food industry, where hundreds of cases are brought every year over food labeling issues.

Several cases of this nature are featured in my books, including the Corny Flakes case in Book 2 (where are the blueberries pictured on the box?) and the Belgian Chocolates (actually made in Reading Pennsylvania) and "Happy Cows" (ice cream made from the milk and cream of Happy Cows) cases in the latest book.

While it would take an act of Congress to prevent these cases from clogging up the courts, I hope my books will at least make readers aware of the problem.

Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your endeavors








 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

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Name: Norm Goldman
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