Jon Berkelhammer has a sophisticated trial practice. He regularly appears in the state and federal trial and appellate courts in North Carolina, as well as the North Carolina Business Courts defending catastrophic personal injury and product liability matters, as well as trade secret and intellectual property matters, and a variety of commercial matters, such as disputes involving minority and majority shareholders and officer and director liability. He also has been retained and has appeared in courts in other jurisdictions. He is active in the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, serving as an instructor at the Southeast Region Trial Skills Program held annually at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
J.D., with honors, University of North Carolina School of Law, 1982
B.S., summa cum laude, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 1979
North Carolina, 1982
United States Supreme Court, 1996
United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, 1984
United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, 1999
United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, 1992
United States District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina
United States District Court, Middle District of North Carolina
United States District Court, Western District of North Carolina
- Member, North Carolina Law Review, 1981–82
- Order of the Coif
- Selected by his peers as Greensboro Best Lawyers Product Liability Litigation Lawyer of the Year (Copyright 2011 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, S.C.), 2012
- Recognized by Chambers and Partners, USA, as one of North Carolina Leaders, Litigation, 2007-2009, General Commercial Litigation, 2010
- Listed, The Best Lawyers in America® (Woodward/White, Inc.), Personal Injury Litigation (2005-2011), Commercial Litigation (2012, 2013), Product Liability Litigation (2005-2012), Personal Injury Litigation-Defendants (2012, 2013), Product Liability Litigation-Defendants (2012, 2013)
- Martindale-Hubbell's top ("AV") Peer Review Rating *
- Business North Carolina's Legal Elite, Litigation (2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2011-2013), Antitrust (2007)
- North Carolina Super Lawyers, Listed Business Litigation (2006-2013), and as one of the "Top 100" attorneys in North Carolina (2006, 2008, 2009-2013)
* CV, BV, and AV are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedure's standards and policies.
- North Carolina Association of Defense Counsel; Executive Vice President (current), Member, Board of Directors, 2008-2011, Former Chair, Commercial Litigation Committee
- American Bar Association, Trial Tort and Insurance Practice Section; Transportation Committee
- Defense Research Institute; Drug and Medical Device Committee
- Trucking Industry Defense Association
- International Association of Defense Counsel
- Product Liability Advisory Council (PLAC)
- Clerkship, Judge Franklin T. Dupree, Jr., U.S. District Court
- Blue Ridge Investors II LP v. Ernst & Young LLP –Represented the plaintiff in thirteen day arbitration on a claim against the accountants for negligent misrepresentation. Plaintiff was an investor in a company for which defendant was the certified public account and provided audited financial statements for purposes of the investment. The case was arbitrated to judgment. (October 2006)
- Regina Andrews v. Marilyn Breese and her husband William D. Breese – Trial counsel for defendants in an action for breach of fiduciary duty claiming that the defendants had taken in excess of $500,000 from the aunt of the plaintiff while she was living with the defendants. The case was tried to verdict. (January 2007)
- Analog Devices, Inc. v. Michalski, et al., 579 S.E.2d 449 (N.C. App. 2003) – Co-trial-counsel for defendants in a claim against two former employees and their present employer for misappropriation of trade secrets.
- Market America, Inc. v. Rossi, 104 F. Supp. 2d 606 (M.D.N.C.), aff'd, 2000 WL 1699830 (4th Cir. 2000) – Trial counsel for defendants and counterclaimants in a suit against former independent distributors for, among other things, breach of contract requiring that material be held confidential and misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential information. The case was tried to verdict.
- Medlin v. FYCO, Inc., 534 S.E.2d 622 (N.C. App. 2000), disc. review denied, 547 S.E.2d 12 (N.C. 2001) – Trial counsel for defendant on claims that the exterior insulation and finish system applied to the plaintiffs' new home was defective and that the defendant fraudulently represented the exterior as "stucco" when it was a synthetic product. Plaintiffs sought compensatory damages to repair the home, as well as punitive damages for the alleged fraud, and treble damages for the claim of unfair and deceptive trade practices. The case was tried to verdict.
Catastrophic Personal Injury and Motor Vehicle Experience
- Henry Allen Tillman v. Janet Harper Wrights, et al. – Lead counsel for defendants in a claim for personal injuries sustained when a 15 passenger van overturned. The driver of the van was attempting to pass a tractor-trailer when the tractor-trailer began to enter the same lane to pass a preceding motor vehicle. The van driver swerved to avoid the tractor-trailer and lost control. The van was carrying recruits for the armed forces shortly after September 11, 2001. The plaintiff suffered multiple injuries, including a closed head injury.
- Puczylowski v. Superior Carriers, Inc. – Lead counsel for defendants in a wrongful death case involving the death of a mother. The deceased had eleven grown children and a surviving spouse. The accident occurred when the car in which the plaintiff was a passenger stopped to render assistance and was struck from behind, at highway speeds, by the defendant trucking company's eighteen-wheeler.
- Anderson v. Demolition Dynamics, Inc., 525 S.E.2d 471 (N.C. App. 2000) – Lead counsel for defendant in a wrongful death action arising out of a demolition accident. The deceased was in the process of rigging a scaffold for explosive demolition when the structure collapsed.
Intellectual Property and Commercial Litigation Experience
- ViewCast v. Inlet Group -- Lead counsel for defendants in a claims alleging, among other things, misappropriation of trade secrets. Defendants were former employees of Osprey Technologies, a subsidiary of ViewCast. Defendants at different times left Osprey and ultimately started a small company to try to develop technology to distribute high definition television signals in real time. (2005)
- State v. McClure, 2004 NCBC 8 (Dec. 14, 2004) – Represented a defendant in an antitrust action brought by the State of North Carolina in which the State alleged that all defendants had, among other things, engaged in a conspiracy either to rig bids for the provision of services involving the clean-up of underground storage tanks or to boycott the bidding process. Defendant was an officer in a non-profit trade association.
- Johnson & Johnson * Merck Consumer Pharmaceuticals Co. v. Lyon, 941 F. Supp. 1443 (M.D.N.C. 1996) – Lead counsel for plaintiffs in a trade secret claim to prevent a Canadian employee of Johnson & Johnson * Merck from joining Glaxo Wellcome PLLC.
- Neway Anchorlok International Inc. v. Longwood Industries, Inc., 107 F. Supp. 2d 810 (E.D. Mich. 1999) – Lead counsel for defendant in which plaintiff, a competitor, alleged that the defendant's use of litigation to protect trade secret information from misappropriation by departing employees was an antitrust violation.
Products Liability Experience
- William E. Hassell v. Sears Roebuck & Co. and Campbell Oil Company of Whiteville and Delores Rhodes, Administrator of the Estate of Vivian O. Smith. Lead counsel for defendant Sears Roebuck & Co. in a claim alleging personal injuries and death arising from the alleged explosion of a gas stove. (2008)
- Green v. Miller Brewing Co., 589 S.E.2d 750, 2003 WL 23018273 (N.C. App. December 6, 2003) – Co-counsel for Miller Brewing Company defending a claim for personal injuries caused when a Miller employee allegedly became intoxicated and shot his roommate. Plaintiff alleged that Miller was negligent when, as a part of an employee benefit, Miller supplied alcohol for home consumption to its employees.
- White v. Penske Truck Leasing Co., Inc., 256 F. Supp. 2d 440, 2003 WL 1900247 (M.D.N.C. April 10, 2003) – Lead counsel for defendant in a claim for negligent design of the hand-holds for rear of cab access to a Freightliner power unit and for negligent maintenance of the steps leading to the fifth wheel.
- Marsh v. W.R. Grace & Co., Frit Industries, Inc., and Continental Casualty Co., 80 Fed. Appx. 883, 2003 WL 22718177 (4th Cir. 2003) – Lead counsel for defendant Frit Industries, Inc. in two wrongful death claims and one personal injury claim in which the plaintiffs alleged that their cancers were caused by exposure to the herbicide picloram.
- St. Clair v. General Motors Corp., 10 F. Supp. 2d 523 (M.D.N.C. 1998) – Co-counsel for defendant in a case involving allegations that an airbag failed to deploy.
- Mutual Service Casualty Ins. Co. v. Frit Industries, Inc., et al., 358 F.3d 1312, 2004 WL 225081 (11th Cir. 2004) – Counsel for Frit Industries, Inc. in an insurance dispute among its carriers to determine insurance coverage for personal injury claims arising allegedly from continuous exposure to a herbicide.
Presentations and Speaking Engagements
- "Litigating Disputes Relating to Closely Held Corporations in the Business Court", North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys, Commercial Law Section, June 17-20, 2010
* Past success does not indicate the likelihood of success in any future legal representation.