James Thornton is Of Counsel at the Raleigh office of Cranfill Sumner.  He has been a litigation attorney since 1989 and has been involved in litigation in a broad range of industries, including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, biotechnology, consumer products, health care, trucking and transportation, waste management, public utilities, public accounting firms and municipalities. James has also served as local or regional counsel in product liability and mass tort litigation, including class action and multidistrict proceedings.

James’ current practice focuses on commercial litigation with an emphasis in commercial disputes, product liability and mass tort defense. He has significant experience in serious personal injury and wrongful death defense; defending municipalities and their law enforcement officers; and trucking and transportation defense. In addition, he also has experience defending against claims of alleged clergy misconduct.

He has been recognized by American Lawyer magazine as a 2013 Top Rated Lawyer in Mass Torts Law and maintains an AV rating with Martindale- Hubbell. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Kentucky.

Thornton is an active member of the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys (NCADA), Defense Research Institute, and the North Carolina Bar Association. He formerly served on the Board of Directors of Artspace, as well as the Wake County Bar Association Board of Directors.

Representative Matters

  • Represented a Research Triangle Park biotechnology research institute in multidistrict litigation pending in the Southern District of New York. The litigation involved the carcinogenic effect of Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE – a gasoline additive) in drinking water. In Re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether Products Liability Litigation, MDL 1358 (S.D.N.Y.).
  • Served as regional counsel for a pharmaceutical company in mass tort litigation involving the prescription drug Reglan and generic metoclopramide. Nance, et. al. v. Wyeth, LLC et. al., 1:13-CV-00226-JAB, United States District Court, Middle District of North Carolina.
  • Lead counsel in complex commercial lawsuit in the Middle District of North Carolina involving over 100 North Carolina poultry farmers against a Ukrainian owned chicken processing company. John Benton, et. al. v. Omtron USA, LLC, No. 1:11-CV-840, United States District Court, Middle District of North Carolina.
  • Prevailed as lead counsel for the City of Fayetteville in multiple Section 1983 lawsuits pending the Eastern District of North Carolina alleging excessive use of force by police officers. McDonald v. Suggs, City of Fayetteville, et. al., No. 5:07-CV-339-D, United States District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina.
  • Served as regional counsel in multidistrict litigation for the manufacturer of an insulin pump that was linked to episodes of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia in diabetes patients. Morton et. al. v. F. Hoffman-LaRoche, LTD et. al., 7:05-CV-00199-FL, United States District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina.

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