James W. Evans, Of Counsel

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James W. Evans has been actively involved in the practice of law for almost 40 years, serving his clients in risk management and the active defense of their litigated matters.  As a result, he has served as lead counsel in over 100 jury trials, as well as an equal number of non-jury trials and arbitrations.  In addition, he served for over 15 years as a Judge Pro Tem in the Maricopa County Superior Court, which is the primary court of record in MaricopaCounty.  That position is selected by the Arizona Supreme Court.  As such, he served as the presiding trial judge in five to six jury trials and conducted 40‑50 judicial Settlement Conferences.

Jim served on the committee formulating the Personal Injury Mediation Project, which was made up of senior claims executives, plaintiffs’ lawyers, defense counsel, and was chaired by a member of the Arizona Court of Appeals.  He was also appointed by the Governor of Arizona to serve as Chairman of the Governor’s Task Force on Tort Reform.  The Task Force focused on issues primarily involving governmental entities.  As a result of the Committee’s efforts, several pieces of legislation were enacted by the Arizona legislature.  Some were challenged by the plaintiffs’ bar but they were largely unsuccessful.  He has been a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates since 1979 and was selected a member of the International Association of Insurance Counsel.  He has been a Certified Specialist in Arizona in personal injury and wrongful death since 1991, which was the first year the specialization was awarded.  Jim previously served as a board member of the Arizona Association of Defense Counsel, serving a term as president.  During his tenure as president, the organization went from being focused solely in Phoenix to becoming the only statewide defense organization.  He served for several years as a member of the Board of Trustees of Phoenix Memorial Hospital, including tenures as Chairman of the Long-Range Planning Committee.  Jim served as an instructor at the Arizona Trial College.

His primary focus of litigation for the last 25 years has been in the area of catastrophic injury and death cases, bad faith litigation, professional liability and construction defect matters.  He has always handled his own appellate cases, both before the Federal Court of Appeals, the Arizona Court of Appeals and the Arizona Supreme Court.  Three of these cases produced seminal decisions involving insurance coverage (Dimmer v. State Farm), liquor liability (Young v. Keegans) and the statute of limitations (Moon Shadow v. Duncan) in molestation cases where the action was brought beyond the statutory period and where the allegedly injured child had a memory of the event.


  • Arizona State University (J.D., 1975)
  • Northern Arizona University (M.A., 1973)
  • Northern Arizona University (B.S., 1968)
Admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court

Memberships and Accomplishments

  • AV Preeminent Lawyer by Martindale-Hubbell


  • Top Attorneys in Arizona, 2012-2015
  • Super Lawyer, 2010
  • Southwest Super Lawyer; 2011-2015
  • Arizona’s Finest Lawyer; 2011-2014


Practice Areas

Personal Injury and Wrongful Death

  • Extensive experience in wide ranging area of matters involving both negligence and strict liability, including retention as an outside consultant for business entities and insurance companies, where the underlying litigation was being handled by separate counsel.  These cases included, among other areas, death, quadriplegia, severe disfigurement and profound brain injury.  Approximately 85% of the cases tried by Jim have been in these areas.
  • As referenced above, one of these catastrophic injury cases resulted in an Arizona Supreme Court decision, still relied upon in liquor liability matters.
  • On the strict liability side, Jim has been frequently involved in the representation of a manufacturer of a product, including a home scaffolding device, a well-known coffee maker and tires, among other products.  This gives Jim hands-on experience involving the discovery battles that frequently arise between producers of a product and plaintiffs’ counsel.

Insurance LItigation

  • Defense of insurance coverage and “good faith and fair dealing” claims, most matters being involved in litigation.  Many of those matters had multi-million dollar exposure which resulted in defense verdicts.
  • Presentation of seminars to insurance claims officials concerning a discussion of new trends in insurance law and claim handling, as well as a presentation, at the request of the insurance company, involving claim handling for entry level personnel.

Professional Liability

  • Jim has been involved through the years in the representation of dentists, organizations providing outside nursing staffs, insurance brokers, licensed pest control companies, licensed general contractors, lawyers and Boards of Directors, among others, all of which typically present claims of negligence. 
  • Many of these cases have involved collateral issues.  For example, the lawsuit involving an outside nursing staff provider was of a subrogation nature.  The claim was brought under the Arizona Contribution Law by a hospital which previously settled.  The seven-figure claim ended up being settled for a very minimal figure.

Environmental issues

  • Jim has been retained by large apartment and condominium complexes to assist them with issues involving mold remediation with the tenants-owners.  He also has represented mold remediation companies, homeowners and water districts in the defense of mold cases.  He was also involved in the Phoenix PCP case, one of the largest toxic tort-water cases in the West.  Jim has also handled general environmental issues from the standpoint of advising the insurance company with regards to their mold exclusion, although that issue has largely abated.  He also litigated cases involving asbestos and, most recently, mesothelioma.

Construction Defect

  • Represented home builders and subcontractors in individual and class action claims including the handling of extended trials, including one on behalf of a California home builder and a multi-week arbitration on behalf of a local home builder.  Jim has represented entities in the construction defect area since construction defect claims arrived in the Phoenix area in the mid-1990’s.

Governmental Entities

  • Jim has represented the State of Arizona, the City of Scottsdale and the City of Phoenix, all involving serious injuries allegedly due to design issues, including serving as lead counsel at trial in traffic design cases.  His efforts generally include the pre-litigation retention of design experts and the initial investigation of a serious traffic accident.  In the “Personal Injury” and “Wrongful Death” sections above, some of the serious cases referenced in those sections include representation of governmental entities.


  • Jim is a trained mediator and, as referenced above, has served as a mediator/Settlement Conference Judge in dozens of matters, as well as having participated in mediation representing a party on over a hundred occasions.

Trial Results

  • Lead counsel in over 100 jury trials, as well as several hundred arbitrations.

WSHB Trial Alert: Defense Verdict in High Exposure Wrongful Death Case

Defense Verdict in Wrongful Death Case:
Demand Ranged From $12-45 Million Before Trial

In a case involving the death of a construction worker by a 30,000 pound forklift in the Maricopa County Superior Court, a 10-person jury returned a defense verdict after deliberating only two hours. WSHB attorneys James W. Evans and Gregory E. Williams led a legal team representing the forklift driver and his employer, in a 10-day wrongful death trial which was completed to verdict on June 24, 2014.

The decedent, who was an employee of the on-site general contractor, was crushed to death on a large hospital construction site when the forklift driver ran over him while he was working in the roadway. The entire accident was documented on videotape which was played for the jury.  There was testimony that the forklift driver saw the decedent three to four minutes before the accident in approximately the same position he was in at the time of his death.  However, defense counsel argued that without the mandated flaggers, barricades, cones or other warning devices, the forklift driver had no notice of the decedent’s actual location at the time of his death.

Arizona is purely a comparative fault state. As a result, the jury could allocate fault to the decedent, the general contractor or any other parties or designated non-parties.  However, Plaintiff was precluded from actually naming the general contractor as a defendant in this case pursuant to the worker’s compensation statutes.

Defense counsel argued that the decedent and the general contractor decedent were ultimately responsible for the accident and the resulting death and the jury agreed. In a 9-1 verdict, the ten person jury awarded no damages to the surviving spouse and the decedent’s six children. During the course of the trial, Plaintiffs had demanded $12.5 million to settle the case.  The defense countered with a global offer of $2.25 million.  In closing arguments, Plaintiffs’ counsel requested a jury award of $14.2 million at a minimum.   Within minutes of the jury rendering its verdict, the Plaintiffs rejected a “high/low” offer from the defense of $1.0 million to $5.0 million. Minutes later, the jury rendered its verdict – no award.

Post verdict, members of the jury indicated that the defense of the forklift driver and his employer was compelling, logical and well supported by the evidence. The jury never considered Plaintiffs’ requested award of $14.2 million, and agreed that the actions of the decedent and his employer were the sole cause of the accident.  The accident occurred in January 2010 and the case had been pending for four years.



Get in Touch

  • Phone: (602) 441-1300
  • Fax: (602) 441-1350

2525 E. Camelback Road
Suite 450
Phoenix, AZ 85016-4210