Although Bruce has always maintained his law office in Durham, during his over 40 year legal career he has litigated civil actions throughout North Carolina, representing clients in most of North Carolina’s 100 counties, in courtrooms from Manteo to Asheville, at every level of the state’s judicial system and in every Federal District Court in the state.
That representation has involved virtually every type of civil proceeding, including numerous Superior Court jury trials, an extensive civil motions practice, mediations, arbitrations and arguing numerous cases before the North Carolina Supreme Court, the United States 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, the North Carolina Court of Appeals and the North Carolina Business Court.
Bruce’s practice of Civil Litigation began as an insurance defense attorney. However, his almost immediate and consistent success litigating cases for those clients generated wider notice of the civil litigation skills he displayed in those cases. That led to Bruce increasingly being asked to represent plaintiffs, and over time the percentage of his practice devoted to representing claimants in civil matters grew. Currently, his law practice involves representing generally equal numbers of plaintiffs and defendants.
Additional Information: Representative Reported Appellate Cases
Although a large percentage of the clients Bruce has represented have been parties to insurance defense or plaintiff’s personal injury lawsuits, the subject matter of his civil litigation experience is much broader. It has, for example, included his successful representation of parties in:
- the defense of claims of professional negligence against lawyers, medical doctors, chiropractors and pharmacists;
- commercial litigation related contract interpretation, class actions and federal consumer protection law;
- disputes relating to estate administration and the interpretation of wills;
- a contentious and procedurally complicated matter involving a petition for the appointment of a guardian for an incompetent individual;
- an enormously complex multi-partied real estate boundary lawsuit.
Civil Litigation is a multi-faceted, multi-layered process for which the term “trial lawyer” is a totally inadequate descriptor. Consequently, Bruce adheres to a holistic philosophy in his practice of civil litigation. He believes that optimal representation of civil clients requires an attorney who is skilled and experienced in and understands the complexities of each potential stage or layer of the litigation of a matter. Bruce is proud of his extensive experience in, and his knowledge of, the details and nuances of each of these stages which have enabled him to obtain such varied favorable resolutions as totally eliminating, by post-trial motions, an insurance defense client’s coverage exposure for a substantial liability verdict and obtaining excellent negotiated resolutions for personal injury claimants. Consistent with this philosophy, in every case Bruce has argued before an appellate tribunal, he also appeared for his clients at the trial or lower court stages of that litigation.
Bruce is therefore skeptical of the trend in recent years of attorneys specializing in only one stage of the litigation process, such as appellate practice. It is Bruce’s opinion that a civil attorney’s ability to advise or represent clients at any stage in the litigation process [including at the appellate stage] is handicapped if that lawyer does not have firsthand experience in, and thereby understanding of, all the other litigation stages which preceded, or which could follow, such particular point in the civil litigation of a dispute.
Throughout his over 40 years of practice Bruce has achieved significant success in representing both plaintiffs and defendants in a practice which has been characterized by an almost constant focus on North Carolina’s Rules of Civil Procedure and Rules of Evidence and has involved many cases presenting a variety of often complex medical diagnoses related to the severity or causation of personal injuries. Bruce has thereby developed two particular areas of expertise which significantly enhance his civil litigation practice.
One is that he has become particularly knowledgeable concerning, and skilled at utilizing, the Rules of Civil Procedure and of Evidence. For example, he has frequently employed his ability to deftly marshal the motions provisions of those rules to obtain favorable resolutions of cases without exposing his clients to the risks or expenses inherent in a jury trial.
The second is that Bruce’s substantial experience litigating personal injury cases has required that he regularly spend considerable amounts of time studying medical literature, examining individual medical records and consulting with and deposing medical experts and treating physicians. This experience has resulted in Bruce possessing an unusually sophisticated level of medical knowledge with regard to physical conditions which are most frequently presented in personal injury lawsuits. Beyond the medical knowledge he has so acquired, that experience has allowed Bruce to develop relationships with a number of highly respected medical professionals. Those doctors provide a constant resource to Bruce’s civil litigation practice as he is able to consult with them in his evaluation of personal injuries and, if appropriate, retain them as medical expert witnesses in his litigation of such lawsuits.
Bruce stays current on developments in Civil Litigation through his involvement in the Litigation Section of the North Carolina Bar Association and his participation in its Continuing Legal Education opportunities.