James W. Gustafson, Jr.

Top rated Products Liability attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, P.A.
James W. Gustafson, Jr.
Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, P.A.

Practice Areas: Products Liability, Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice

Licensed in Florida since: 1994

Education: Florida State University College of Law

Selected to Super Lawyers: 2010 - 2023
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Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, P.A.

The Towle House
517 North Calhoun Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301 Phone: 850-224-7600 Email: James W. Gustafson, Jr. Visit website


JAMES W. GUSTAFSON, JR. is a shareholder with Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA, a member of the firm’s executive committee, and the managing partner of the firm’s Tallahassee office. Jimmy is a sixth generation Florida native who served with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and studied at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, before becoming a trial lawyer.

Jimmy is a member of the prestigious International Academy of Trial Lawyers, a worldwide organization limited to just 500 attorneys by invitation only. He is an EAGLE Founder, and a past President of the Florida Justice Association. In 2020, Jimmy received the Perry Nichols Award, which is the highest honor the Florida Justice Association bestows, and gives recognition to an individual who has dedicated a lifetime to the pursuit of justice through extended and distinguished service to the cause of justice in Florida and in the nation. In 2013, Jimmy received the Krupnick Award, the Florida Justice Association’s 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 Diplomat in the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys. An AV-rated attorney by Martindale-Hubbell for many years, Jimmy is committed to teaching and writing. He has lectured at numerous Continuing Legal Education seminars and has authored Continuing Legal Education materials for Florida College of Advanced Judicial Studies, The Florida Bar, the Journal of the Florida Justice Association, and AAJ’s Trial magazine.

Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Florida Bar and the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Jimmy 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. Jimmy 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.

Jimmy’s practice is focused on product liability, tobacco litigation including fraud and conspiracy, trucking negligence, and other catastrophic injury and death cases.

First Admitted: 1994, Florida

Professional Webpage: https://www.searcylaw.com/attorneys/james-w-gustafson-jr/

Other Outstanding Achievements:
  • America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators 
  • America’s Top 100 Attorneys  
  • Served in the U.S. Army, 82nd Airborne Division, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Fort Bragg, NC 1984-1987.  Honorable Discharge 1987
  • Florida Trend’s Florida Legal Elite - 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 , Florida Legal Elite, Florida Trend
  • , Top 100 Trial Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers
  • 2010-2020, Florida Super Lawyers, Super Lawyers
  • , Perry Nichols Award, Florida Justice Association, 2020
  • The National Trial Lawyers, Top 100 Trial Lawyers , Top 100 Trial Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers
  • Rated AV Preeminent, Martindale-Hubbell, 2003 –  present, AV Preeminent, Martindale Hubbell
  • Best Lawyers in America, 2012-2022.  Lawyer of the Year 2013 Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Litigation - Tallahassee , Best Lawyers in America - Florida, Best Lawyers
  • Jon E. Krupnick Award for Perseverance, 2013; EAGLE Legend Award, 2016; Benjamin Franklin Award, 2018; Final Round Award, 2016; Churchill Award, 2015; Gold Eagle Award, 2012, 2017; Silver Eagle Award, 2015, 2018; Bronze Eagle Award, 2001, 2013, 2016; Shoe Leather Award, 2012 , EAGLE Awards, Florida Justice Association
Bar/Professional Activity:
  • Florida Bar - Trial Lawyers Section
  • United States District Court - Southern District of Florida; Middle District of Florida; Northern District of Florida
  • Florida Supreme Court Standard Jury Instructions Committee (Civil), 2018 - 2020 
  • Florida Justice Association (FKA Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers): President, 2016-2017; Chair, FJPAC 2016-2017; President-Elect, 2015-2016; Treasurer, 2014 - 2015; Secretary, 2013 – 2014; Executive Committee, 2012 - present; Board of Directors, 1999-2003 & 2011- present; Chair, Young Lawyers Section, 2000-2001; Board of Directors, Young Lawyers Section, 1997-1999.  EAGLE Founder, 2015 –  present; EAGLE Benefactor, 2011 – 2014; EAGLE Patron, 2009 – 2010; EAGLE Sponsor, 2000 – 2005.  Distinguished Fellow, The Fellows of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers (now The Florida Justice Association), 2012 – present. 
  • International Academy of Trial Lawyers, 2017 –  present
  • American Association for Justice: Leaders Forum; Sustaining Member; Professional Negligence Section: Chair, Professional Negligence Section, 2005-2006; Editor, Professional Negligence Section Newsletter, 2001 – 2002 
  • Southern Trial Lawyers Association 
  • Tallahassee Bar Association
  • American Board of Trial Advocates - ABOTA 2010 Trial Lawyer of the Year 
  • National Board of Trial Advocacy - Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer, 2014 – 2019 
  • Capital City Justice Association 
  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum 
  • National Association of Distinguished Counsel
  • American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys, Diplomate - Medical Professional Liability, 2012 –  present
  • Florida Tobacco Education and Use Prevention Advisory Council, Member 2018 - present
Educational Background:
  • Florida State University College of Law - Juris Doctor with Honors.  Moot Court Team, Phi Delta Phi, 1994
  • St. Edmund Hall - Oxford, England, 1992
  • Florida State University - Bachelor of Arts, Cum Laude, with Honors.  Phi Beta Kappa, Golden Key National Honor Society, 1991
  • Duignan v. Philip Morris USA, Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (retrial) - $26,750,000. Jury verdict for wrongful death and punitive damages, 2020
  • Durrance v. RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company - $3,450,000.  Jury verdict for wrongful death and punitive damages, 2019
  • Gafney v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. - $1,000,000.  Jury verdict for wrongful death, 2019
Industry Groups:
  • Florida Justice Association
  • International Academy Of Trial Lawyers

Office location for James W. Gustafson, Jr.

The Towle House
517 North Calhoun Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301


14 Years Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers: 2010 - 2023

Top Lists

Top 100: Florida Super Lawyers: 2015, 2023

Certificates and credentials

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