Mr. James C. Thornton

Mr. James C. Thornton: Attorney with Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP AV stamp icon
Attorney Awards


James Thornton is Of Counsel at the Raleigh office of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog. 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.

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.


•Martindale-Hubbell, AV Rated
•Recognized by American Lawyer magazine as a 2013 Top Rated Lawyer in Mass Torts Law

Articles, Presentations, and Publications

•Public Duty Doctrine - Alive and Well in North Carolina
•Sovereign Immunity defense - not so fast!

Most Recent Posts


James Thornton Presents at NCADA Winter Workshop

James Thornton, an attorney in the Raleigh office of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog, spoke recently at the 2017 Winter Workshop of the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys....


Supreme Court Broadens Protection of Qualified Immunity to Police Officers in Excessive Force Cases

42 U.S.C. 1983 Case Law Update: Mullenix v. Luna, 136 S. Ct 305 (2015) Police officers are too often...


US Supreme Court Makes it Easier to Bring Claims Against Police Officers

Last week, in Kingsley v. Hendrickson, the United States Supreme Court changed the law in the 4th Circuit, which includes...


NC Legislature Grapples with Release of Police Officer Videos

The North Carolina General Assembly is currently considering legislation that would give law enforcement agencies the authority to release video...


The Rest of the Story: Search for the Truth in Use of Force Cases

The late radio personality Paul Harvey had a famous show called “The Rest of the Story.” Harvey would bait his...


Thornton Joins Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP

James Thornton has joined the Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP firm in an Of Counsel position based in its Raleigh office....

Areas of Practice (5)

  • Business Disputes & Litigation
  • Municipalities & Public Entities
  • Product Liability
  • Professional Liability
  • Trucking & Commercial Transportation

Education & Credentials

Contact Information:
(919) 863-8757  Phone
(919) 863-3459  Fax
Mailing Address:
PO Box 27808, Raleigh, NC 27607
University Attended:
University of Kentucky, B.S., 1986
Law School Attended:
University of Kentucky College of Law, J.D., 1989
Year of First Admission:
U.S. District Court for the Eastern, Middle, and Western Districts of North Carolina; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; 1989, North Carolina; United States Supreme Court

Community Involvement

•DRI, Member
•NCBA, Member
•NCADA, Member
•Artspace, Board of Directors (2010-2011)
•Wake County Bar Association, Board of Directors (2007-2008)

Birth Information:
Huntington, West Virginia, 1964
Reported Cases:
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.
Payment Information:
  • Credit cards accepted
  • Accepts Visa and MasterCard

Peer Reviews

5.0/5.0 (2 reviews)
A Martindale-Hubbell Peer Rating reflects a combination of achieving a Very High General Ethical Standards rating and a Legal Ability numerical rating.
  • Legal Knowledge

  • Analytical Capability

  • Judgment

  • Communication

  • Legal Experience


*Peer Reviews provided before April 15, 2008 are not displayed.

Raleigh, North Carolina

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