The King of Torts

by John Grisham

Doubleday, February, 2003.
Hardcover, 376 pages.
ISBN: 0385508042

The King of Torts by John Grisham Clay Carter is a stubborn young lawyer working for the Office of the Public Defender in Washington D.C. His longtime girlfriend is pushing for him to apply his skills at a good law firm and has even convinced her wealthy father to offer him a job at one, but Clay is stubborn and wants nothing to do with her upper-class parents. However, opportunity soon comes to him in a less honorable form. He is approached by the mysterious Max Pace, who tells him inside information about a large pharmaceutical company that has manufactured a drug with violent side effects. The cases involve criminals that Clay has been defending for the OPD. Max offers Clay millions to set up a new law firm, hire lawyers and start adding clients to take on the drug manufacturer. Clay accepts and the case is a huge success. Pace continues to inform Clay about more potential big money cases involving giant pharmaceutical corporations -- which he also takes and wins. Soon, Clay is extremely successful, famous and dating a hot, young model. But, how long can his good fortune last and are his huge class action cases really helping his clients?

The King of Torts is an excellent novel. Grisham dives into the bizarre world of medical tort claims and uncovers many things people would probably rather not know. In the big money class action claims lawyers attempt to grab up as many clients as possible and obtain a settlement, which results in lots of money for the lawyers and some money for the clients -- but not always as much as they might win in an individual lawsuit. Also, these lawsuits deal with people who might die or have died, making the issues involved tremendously personal. Grisham does a great job of explaining the underpinnings of tort law and giant medical and insurance companies while telling an exciting story at the same time. As usual, Grisham also writes realistic characters. Clay Carter's decisions to go after the big money and fame, despite the unethical law practices, are all too believable. And readers will love Patton French, the incredibly successful mass tort lawyer, who is quite happy being greedy, rich and flying on his Gulfstream 5. Highly recommended.

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This review was published in the June-July, 2003 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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