James W. Gustafson, Jr.
JAMES W. GUSTAFSON, JR. is a shareholder with Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA. Mr. Gustafson is a sixth generation Florida native whose credentials include serving with the U.S. Armys 82nd Airborne Division and studying at St. Edmund Hall at the Oxford University.
Mr. Gustafsons practice is focused on product liability, tobacco litigation including fraud and conspiracy, trucking negligence, and other catastrophic injury and death cases.
Mr. Gustafson is an EAGLE member, and currently serves as Secretary of the Florida Justice Association. In 2013, Mr. Gustafson received the Krupnick Award, the Florida Justice Associations award for perseverance in the pursuit of justice in a single case. He is a sustaining member of The American Association for Justice, and served as chair of their Professional Negligence Section. He is a Diplomate in the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys. Committed to teaching and writing, he has lectured at numerous Continuing Legal Education seminars and has authored Continuing Legal Education materials for The Florida Bar, the Journal of the Florida Justice Association, and AAJ's Trial magazine.
An AV-rated attorney by Martindale-Hubbell for over ten years, Mr. Gustafson is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, and received the Trial Lawyer of the Year award from the Tallahassee ABOTA Chapter in 2010. He is named in The Best Lawyers in America, and received the designation Lawyer of the Year for Personal Injury Litigation in Tallahassee in 2013. He has been named a Florida Super Lawyer, and also named to Florida Trends Legal Elite. Mr. Gustafson obtained one of the Top Ten Verdicts of 2010 as recognized by Lawyers USA, and one of the Top 100 Verdicts of 2010 by the National Law Journal.
After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Florida State University, Mr. Gustafson studied law with his alma mater, as well. He was a member of the moot court team and Phi Delta Phi, and graduated with honors.
I remember that my dad was involved in a commercial litigation lawsuit that went to trial, and that was my dad’s business at stake . . . what he did for a living. That’s all he did, and that business was all he had. His lawyer was really important for that reason, so when I told my dad I was thinking about being a lawyer, my father said, “Well, if you’re going to be a lawyer, you need to be a really good lawyer. There are plenty of lawyers out there, but a lot of them aren’t very good.” So the reason you need to be a good lawyer is that although you may have a bunch of cases, for the people that you represent, that’s their only case.
You know, the arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice. Sometimes you can’t be focused on the short term; you have to be focused on the long term. I talk to clients about that: If something doesn’t go right now, that just makes it something we have to deal with.
As a lawyer, there are burdens you shoulder that you had no idea you would ever shoulder. Thinking about someone’s future being on the line, and trying to figure out, “Do I go home now . . . or do I keep working? What if I don’t do enough? What if I cannot express this person’s loss effectively?” Those are the things you can’t imagine when you’re thinking about being a lawyer. It looks so easy on TV, but if you take it seriously, those are the kind of things that you get confronted with.
The Law is a jealous mistress. I never knew what that meant before. I do now.
- Horner v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; $80,000,000; Jury verdict for wrongful death and punitive damages. (November 2010)
- Liu v. trucking company; $17,760,000; Confidentiality order. (January 2010)
- Fries v. manufacturer; $13,000,000; Confidentiality order. (October 2012)
- Family v. automobile manufacturer; $12,900,000; Roof crush/quadriplegia; Confidentiality order. (June 2011)
- Estate v. automobile manufacturer; $12,500,000; Seatbelt failure; Confidentiality order. (September 2008)
- Kee v. automobile manufacturer; $12,000,000; Roof crush/quadriplegia; Confidentiality order. (June 2006)
- Golden v. Schneider; $10,231,869; Jury verdict for paralysis following knee replacement surgery. (April 1999)
- Arbor Properties v. insurance companies; $9,500,000; Hurricane Katrina property damage/insurance bad faith; Confidentiality order. (May 2007)
See more Results
- “Developing the Economic Loss Picture: The Obvious and Not So Obvious Elements to Make the Aggressive Damages Argument” 360Advocacy, Damages: Go Big or Go Home, Las Vegas, Nevada June 2013
- “Opening Statements” Southern Trial Lawyers Association, 2012 Mardi Gras Conference. New Orleans, Louisiana February 2012
- Faculty, 2011 Al J. Cone Trial Advocacy Institute, Florida Justice Association. Cross Examination and Closing Argument. Tampa, Florida August 2011
- “Top Verdicts of 2010: Opening Statements and Closing Arguments” American Association for Justice, June 2011
- “Blind Faith” (co-authored with James Girards) Trial Magazine, American Association for Justice, May 2010
- “Challenging Hospitals that Tolerate Incompetent Doctors” (co-authored with Thomas D. Masterson) Trial Magazine, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, May 2003.
- “Summation for Plaintiff: Discussing Damages”, Handling Accident Cases, Summations, Vol. 2, Ch. 26, pp. 493 – 498, Cumulative Supplement, October 2002
- “Opening Statement in Brain Injury Case”, Handling Accident Cases, Aspects of Head Injury, Vol. 7, Ch. 112, pp. 447 – 452, Cumulative Supplement, October 2002
- “Suing the Hospital When Superdoc Falls” (co-authored with Thomas D. Masterson) Trial Magazine, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, May 2002
- “Recovering Non-Economic Damages Without Overcoming the Threshold Defense” Journal of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, August 1999
- “Personal Injury, Wrongful Death and Insurance” (co-authored with Gary D. Fox) Florida Bar Course on Board Certification in Civil Trial Law, 1998
- “Expert Witness’ Preparation Time Is Not Compensable” Journal of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, March, 1984
- “First Party Bad Faith” Florida Bar Continuing Legal Education, 1993