Professionals

James W. Bryan

Member

Overview

“Going the extra mile to satisfy my clients.”

Jim Bryan has devoted his career to the zealous representation of his business litigation clients with integrity and the highest of ethical standards.  Jim understands what it takes to win battles in the litigation trenches and in front of the jury.  He has appeared in the federal and state courts of North Carolina including the North Carolina Business Court. His litigation practice concentrates on insurance coverage/bad faith, trucking industry defense, commercial disputes, lender liability, premises liability and environmental disputes.  He also has great familiarity with class actions, toxic and mass torts, and product liability.

As a leader in Nexsen Pruet, Jim is chair of its insurance litigation and insurance bad faith defense groups and co-chair of the firm’s transportation and truck accident defense groups.  He is one of the more senior members of the firm’s Greensboro office and mentors younger attorneys and provides leadership for the office. 

Jim is passionate about giving back to his profession and the community.  He is a board member and President-Elect of the Greensboro Bar Association, as well as a master in the Guilford Inn of Court.   He serves on the Section Council of the newly formed Insurance Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association.  He is chair of the Amicus Brief Committee of the Trucking Industry Defense Association and chair of the First Party Property Subcommittee of the Insurance Law Committee of the Defense Research Institute.  Jim was program chair for the April 2013 Insurance Coverage and Claims Institute conference, one of the flagship programs of DRI’s Insurance Law Committee.  He has also been the program chair for insurance law and environmental law conferences sponsored by the North Carolina Bar Association.

Jim is a frequent speaker at local, state and national conferences and seminars where attorneys attend for their continuing legal education requirements.  Recent topics include ethics for litigators, truck accident defense, insurance coverage, evidence, insurance bad faith defense, and civil litigation.  Sponsors of the programs have been the Greensboro and North Carolina Bar Associations, DRI, National Business Institute and Property Liability Resources Bureau.

Education
  • Wake Forest University, J.D., 1989 (Member of Moot Court and Law Review)
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.A., 1981
  • The Choate Rosemary Hall School, 1976
Bar Admissions
  • North Carolina
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of North Carolina
  • U.S. District Court Middle District of North Carolina
  • U.S. District Court Western District of North Carolina
Civic & Professional Memberships
  • Greensboro Bar Association (President)
  • 18th Judicial District of the North Carolina State Bar (President)
  • Greensboro Bar Association Foundation (President)
  • Guilford Inn of Court (master)
  • Trucking Industry Defense Association
  • North Carolina Trucking Association
  • North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Greensboro Bar Association
  • Greensboro Bar Association's Community Involvement Committee (chair)
  • YMCA of Greensboro's Alex Spears Branch Board of Management (past chair)
  • Leadership Greensboro (2003-2004)
  • North Carolina Bar Association
Notable

Representative Experience

Lender Liability/Jury Trial - Defended lender liability claims against state bank in three-week jury trial in federal district court in Greensboro, NC in 2012.  Obtained favorable defense verdict that is up on appeal.

Insurance Bad Faith - Defended commercial lines insurer for seven years (2002-2009) in bad faith litigation in NC state court involving builders risk insurance, mold infestation, alleged insurance fraud in claim submission, alleged additional insured coverage, construction project failure, Chapter 11 bankruptcy of project owner, SIU investigation, and appeal of discovery dispute over insurer's work product. Successful in resolving the matter late in discovery phase.

Insurance Coverage/E&O/Motion to Dismiss – Obtained for insurance company an order dismissing the corporate policyholder's insurance coverage action in NC state court on a professional liability E&O policy where claimant made tortious interference with contract      claim against policyholder after the expiration of the policy.  

Insurance Coverage/Bad Faith/Credit Life/Motion to Dismiss – Obtained for  insurer an order of dismissal of the insured's insurance coverage/bad faith action in federal court in NC in regards to a credit life insurance policy due to misrepresentation.  

Insurance Coverage/CGL/Construction Defects – Won summary judgment motion for insurance company in insurance coverage case involving construction defect claims, owned property exclusion and trigger rule.  

Insurance Coverage/Commercial Auto/Summary Judgment - Won summary judgment for insurer in federal court in NC on grounds that the auto exclusion applied to bar coverage under a CGL policy for a catastrophic truck accident.     

Insurance Coverage/Affirmance on Appeal - Obtained NC Court of Appeals' affirmance of summary judgment entered by trial court for CGL insurer on construction defect claims.  

Title Insurance/Affirmance on Appeal – Prevailed in NC Court of Appeals for insurance company in title insurance case concerning adverse possession.

ERISA/Motion to Dismiss - Obtained dismissal of bad faith claims in federal court in NC with defense of preemption. Settled claims for breach of fiduciary duty relating to short term disability plan.

Truck Accident Defense/Jury Trial - Settled double fatality truck accident case for Kodiak truck owner-operator after 7 days of jury trial in NC state court.

Truck/Bus Accident/Jury Trial - In stipulated liability case, able to hold down the jury's damage award to 25% of what plaintiff asked for in closing argument.  Successful in motions to exclude testimony of plaintiff's vocational expert and economist expert.

Cargo Loss/Carmack Amendment – Settled cargo loss claim for motor carrier in NC state court concerning stolen trailer of cell phones where interpretation of Carmack Amendment played significant role.

Trucking Regulatory Compliance/USDOT – Negotiated a settlement for trucking company with US Dept. of Transportation concerning civil penalty assessments for alleged violations of federal motor carrier safety regulations.

Motor Carrier Permit Violations/North Carolina - Obtained judgment for trucking company against State Highway Patrol for wrongful penalty assessment for alleged violation of trip permit for overweight load. Won on appeal.

Environmental/Consent Decree - Negotiated consent decrees for Fortune 100 company in underground storage tank case involving soil and groundwater contamination at convenience store gas station next to elementary school.

Environmental/UST - Defended and obtained dismissal of NC state court action for gas station owner against NC Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources after multiple      expert witness depositions revealed lack of merit for claim under NC Oil Pollution & Hazardous Substances Control Act.  

Environmental/Notice of Violation/Air Quality - Successful in persuading NCDENR's      Division of Air Quality to agree to a substantial reduction of monetary penalty for alleged violation of air quality permit of manufacturer client.     

Environmental/Insurance Coverage – Obtained settlement for insurer in a ten- year      coverage dispute concerning underground storage tank insurance for oil company insured at convenience store gas station.

Compelling Arbitration - Successful on motion to compel arbitration on insurance company's behalf in insurance coverage/bad faith action in NC Business Court concerning commercial crime policy with corporate policyholder, and successfully opposed assertion by corporate insured that the insurer waived the right to arbitration after filing the first action in New York.

Transportation Contracts – Drafting and negotiating of transportation contracts on behalf of motor carriers and shippers.

Premises Liability/Jury Trial - Obtained defense verdict of no liability for municipality in trip and fall case in NC state court.  

Automobile Negligence/Jury Trial - Won defense verdict of no liability for automobile operator in motor vehicle negligence case. 

Reported Decisions

Colony v. Peterson, 2012 WL 1867047 (May 22, 2012, M.D.N.C.) and 2012 WL 4369666 (Sept. 24, 2012, M.D.N.C.)

Brown v. Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc., 1:11-cv-84 (July 7, 2011, M.D.N.C.)

Zurich American Ins. Co. v. ACE American Ins. Co., 3:10-cv-101 (December 3, 2010 and January 27, 2011, W.D.N.C.)

Daily Express, Inc. v. Bryan E. Beatty, Secretary of Crime Control & Public Safety, 688 S.E.2d, 791 N.C.App. (2010)

Wachovia Bank v. Clean River Corporation, 178 N.C.App. 528, 631 S.E.2d 879 (2006)

Estate of Mason v. Universal Underwriters Life Ins. Co., 1:06-cv-190 (September 14, 2006 and October 4, 2006, W.D.N.C.)

Miller v. Owens, 603 S.E.2d 168 (N.C.App. 2004)

Garner v. Big Lots Stores, Inc., 4:01-cv-179 (March 18, 2003, E.D.N.C.)

Ayers v. Patz, 2002 WL 1901906, N.C.App. (Aug. 20, 2002)

Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. v. Gulf Ins. Co., 2001 WL 34000140, 2001 NCBC 3, N.C. Super. (Jan. 31, 2001)

Markham v. Nationwide Ins. Co., 125 N.C.App. 433, 481 S.E.2d 349 (1997)

Hunter v. Newsom, 121 N.C.App., 564, 468 S.E.2d 802 (1996)

Fidelity National Title Ins. Co. of Tenn. v. Kidd, 99 N.C.App. 737, 394 S.E.2d 225 (1990)

 

Speaking & Writing

Author, “Case Law Developments,” Insurance Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association newsletter, March 2014.

Author, “Fourth Circuit’s Decision in Cargo Loss Case Should Be Wake-Up Call for Motor Carriers as to Limitation of Liability,” Trucking Industry Defense Association, quarterly e-newsletter, February 2014. 

Co-author, North Carolina chapter of DRI’s 50-State Compendium of Reservation of Rights, December 2013.

Speaker/Author of manuscript, “Targeting Insurance: Coverage Issues In Firearms and Self-Defense Claims,” Defense Research Institute’s Insurance Law Committee conference, December 2013.  

Co-author, “First Party Property Insurance Law in North Carolina,” inaugural issue of the e-newsletter Insurance Law of the Insurance Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association, November 27, 2013.

Speaker, “2012 North Carolina Insurance Law Update”, North Carolina Bar Association’s annual CLE review, Grandover Resort in Greensboro, October 11, 2013  

Author - "Waiver of Right of Appraisal in Property Insurance Claims," Defense Research Institute's Covered Events Newsletter, July 2013

Program Chair, Defense Research Institute's Insurance Coverage and Claims Institute Conference, Chicago, April 2013

Speaker/Author of manuscript - "Ethical Considerations During Litigation," Annual Meeting of the Environmental Law Section of North Carolina Bar Association, Wilmington, NC, April 2013

Speaker/Author of manuscript - "When Lenders Come Knocking - How to Assess a Lender's Claim Under Personal Lines Policies," Defense Research Institute's Insurance Coverage and Claims Institute Conference, Chicago, April 2012

Speaker/Author of manuscript - "Protecting the Insurer's Internal Communications From Discovery in Bad Faith Actions," Defense Research Institute's Bad Faith Conference, Washington D.C., June 2011

Webinar Speaker - "Right to Independent Counsel: Emerging Issues - Resolving Policyholder and Insurer Disputes Over Selection of Counsel," Strafford Publications, July 2011

Speaker/Author of manuscript - "Certificates of Insurance: Avoiding Bad Faith," Property Liability Resource Bureau, Sacramento, California, Nov. 2011

Jim Bryan co-authored an article entitled, "Bad Faith in Absence of Breach of Contract?" featured in For the Defense magazine, a publication of the Defense Research Institute.

"Observations from the Trenches of Truck Wreck Litigation", N.C. Trucking Association webinar, May 3, 2011.

"Debunking Lost Future Earnings Damages", The Transportation Lawyer, February 2011

"Property Insurance Policies: The Covered Causes of Loss and Excluded Perils", Exploring Property Insurance and Construction Law Issues, Defense Research Institute, June 2010.

Jim Bryan and Dennis Lynch co-authored an article entitled "Rolling Out CSA 2010 - The New Motor Carrier Safety Compliance" for The DefenseLineThe DefenseLine is the quarterly publication of the South Carolina Defense Trial Attorneys' Association.

On May 19, 2010, Jim Bryan filed an amicus curiae brief in a case pending before the North Carolina Supreme Court on behalf of the Trucking Industry Defense Association. On October 8, the State Supreme Court adopted the position argued in the brief and reversed the court of appeals decision.  Read the opinion here

Co-Author, Duty to Settle Third Party Claims, Property Loss Research Bureau/Liability Insurance Research Bureau, National Claims Convention, San Antonio, March 2010

"The Nuts and Bolts of Declaratory Judgement Actions", presented at the North Carolina Bar Association's Insurance Law Update CLE, Grandover Resort, Greensboro, North Carolina, November 6, 2009

"Right to Independent Counsel?", Coverage Magazine, Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee of American Bar Association's Section of Litigation, Vol. 19, No. 3, May/June 2009

Umbrella Policies: The Duty to Drop Down", Property Loss Research Bureau/Liability Loss Research Bureau, National Claims Convention, Seattle, March 2009

Co-Author, Who's Responsible for Financial Responsibility?, Defense Research Institute's Trucking Law Committee, In-Transit, August 2007. The article features a recent NC Court of Appeals decision which held that a liability policy for a commercial vehicle automatically provides minimum of $750,000 of coverage, despite the owner requesting and paying for lesser coverage.

Co-Author, Amicus Curiae brief in the Supreme Court of North Carolina on behalf of the Trucking Industry Defense Association, North Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company, Inc., v. Terry Davis Armwood, Jr.; Et al., April 2007

Co-Author, Amicus Curiae brief on behalf of the Trucking Industry Defense Association in the case, Lamson & Sessions Co. v. ATS Logistics Services, Inc., November 2006

Co-Author, North Carolina Chapter in the Defense Research Institute's Insurance Bad Faith: A Compendium of State Law (2006)

Contracts and Insurance Protections for Motor Carriers, National Tank Truck Carriers Association, Board of Directors Meeting, August 2004

Co-Author, North Carolina Chapter in the American Law Firm Association's A Fifty-State Reference of Significant Case and Statutory Law Related to Life, Accident and Health Insurance Claims and Litigation (2003 Edition)

Just Exactly Where is That Petroleum Contamination Coming From?, Environmental News, North Carolina Bar Association, 2003

Hold Harmless, Indemnity, Subrogation and Additional Insured Insurance in Transportation Contracts, Annual Meeting, National Tank Truck Carriers Association, April, 2003

Brownfields Agreements: A Prospective Developer's Road to Success, Environmental News, Vol. 13, No. 2, March, 2002

Auto Exclusion in General Liability Insurance Policies, For the Defense, Vol. 43, No. 12, December, 2001

The Saga Over MTBE Continues, Takes New Turn, Environmental News, Vol. 13, No. 1, December, 2001

A Lesson in Avoiding Liability on the Internet, BizLife Magazine, March, 2001

A Practical Guide to Federal Court Rules and Procedures in North Carolina, National Business Institute, June, 2000

Insurance Coverage Laws in North Carolina, National Business Institute, June, 1996

Damages Recoverable in Commercial Cases and Their Proof, Commercial Litigation in North Carolina Handbook, Law Practice Handbooks, 1995

Outside Nexsen Pruet

You can find Jim on the tennis courts on weekends and weekday nights, singles or doubles.  His USTA 50-and-over seniors team, 4.5 division, won the 2012 state championship.  Jim can no longer keep up with his 18-year-old son who is a top-ranked player in the state and the southern region, but that is as it should be.  Sports has always been a big part of Jim’s life.  High-level volleyball used to be his thing.  He played in the USVBA national championships in 1983, 1985 and 1990.  He retired in 1994 after his Greensboro team won the state championship and he was named MVP.  He even played Junior Varsity soccer at UNC-Chapel Hill his freshman year. 

Jim came down south for college and never left.  He was born and raised in Connecticut and most of his siblings and parents still live up north.  Family reunions in Maine and New Hampshire have re-connected Jim with his past.  Jim’s wife of 24 years and two sons look forward to the pilgrimage up north every other year.

The most unusual thing you may not know about Jim is that his great great great great great grandfather signed the U.S. Constitution for North Carolina in 1788 – Richard Dobbs Spaight. Jim did not know this until he came to UNC and saw a plaque about Spaight on the wall of Memorial Auditorium his freshman year.