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JAMES W. GUSTAFSON JR. is a Shareholder with Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, P.A., a member of the firm’s executive committee, and the managing partner of the firm’s Tallahassee office. He 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.

Mr. Gustafson is a member of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, a worldwide organization limited to just 500 attorneys, by invitation only. He is an EAGLE Founder and past president of the Florida Justice Association. In 2013, he 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 its Professional Negligence Section.

Mr. Gustafson is a diplomate in the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys and has been AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell for 15 years. Committed to teaching and writing, he has lectured at numerous continuing legal education seminars and has authored continuing legal education materials for the Florida College of Advanced Judicial Studies, The Florida Bar, the Florida Justice Association Journal and AAJ’s Trial magazine.

Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by The Florida Bar and the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Mr. Gustafson 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. He was recognized by Lawyers USA for obtaining one of the Top Ten Verdicts of 2010 and the National Law Journal credits him with one of the Top 100 Verdicts of 2010.

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

  • The Towle House
    517 North Calhoun Street
    Tallahassee, FL 32301-1231
  • Florida State University, J.D., graduated 1994
Bar Admissions
  • Florida, The Florida Bar
  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum - Member
  • Tallahassee Bar Association - Member
  • American Association for Justice - Member
  • American Board of Trial Advocates - Member
  • Capital City Justice Association - Member
  • Florida Bar Association - Member
  • Florida Justice Association - Board of Directors
  • Florida Supreme Court Standard Jury Instructions Committee - Member
  • International Academy of Trial Lawyers - Member
  • National Association of Distinguished Counsel - Member
  • National Board of Trial Advocacy - Member
  • The National Trial Lawyers, Top 100 Trial Lawyers - Member

Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2024 - Product Liability Litigation - Plaintiffs Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2022 - Product Liability Litigation - Plaintiffs Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2013 - Personal Injury Litigation - Plaintiffs
Named "Lawyer of the Year" by Best Lawyers® for:
  • Product Liability Litigation - Plaintiffs, Tallahassee (2024)
  • Product Liability Litigation - Plaintiffs, Tallahassee (2022)
  • Personal Injury Litigation - Plaintiffs, Tallahassee (2013)
Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® 2024 for work in:
  • Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Plaintiffs
  • Medical Malpractice Law - Plaintiffs
  • Personal Injury Litigation - Plaintiffs
  • Product Liability Litigation - Plaintiffs
  • FJA Perry Nichols Award, 2020
  • FJA Jon E. Krupnick Award for Perseverance, 2013
  • FJA EAGLE Legend Award, 2016
  • FJA Benjamin Franklin Award, 2018
  • FJA Final Round Award, 2016
  • FJA Churchill Award, 2015
  • FJA Gold Eagle Award, 2012, 2017
  • FJA Silver Eagle Award, 2015, 2018
  • FJA Bronze Eagle Award, 2001, 2013, 2016
  • FJA Shoe Leather Award, 2012
Additional Areas of Practice:
  • Medical Malpractice Law
  • Personal Injury Litigation

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