R. Bruce Barze, Jr.


About Bruce

Bruce is a trial attorney with a national litigation practice, and over the last thirty years he has acquired substantial experience in business, insurance, construction, and environmental litigation, as well as the defense of high-stakes personal injury and wrongful death cases. He has tried lawsuits to verdict in five states and litigated or managed matters in 20 states, territories, and Canada. Several clients also call on him regularly to work on a variety of insurance coverage matters and risk management issues, ranging from coverage opinions and analyses to all types of coverage and indemnity litigation. Bruce places a high premium on providing excellent client satisfaction, problem solving, and preemptive legal work.

Bruce also is a trained mediator registered with the Alabama Center for Dispute Resolution.

Bruce is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) and is ranked as a Notable Practitioner in Band 2 for Commercial Litigation in Chambers USA. He is described there as “a leader in the product liability area” and as a “good trial lawyer who has a lot of experience in big cases." Bruce also has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America since 2010 and in Alabama and Mid-South Super Lawyers since 2008.

Bruce served as national coordinating counsel for a pharmaceutical company in the fen-phen litigation and serves as state or regional trial counsel for a number of companies, including a global leader in power and automation technologies, syndicates and insurers in the London insurance market, various European manufacturers, and market leaders that design, produce, and sell agricultural vehicles and implements, construction equipment, and industrial machinery.

Select Matters:

  • Special Master: Appointed special discovery master by U.S. district judge in federal litigation filed by the United States Department of Justice against the State of Alabama and its Department of Corrections alleging that prisoners in Alabama’s 14 prisons for men are subjected to conditions of confinement that violate their constitutional rights.
  • Commercial litigation: Obtained defense verdict on all counts in a trade secret case filed against a plastic compounder alleging misappropriation under state and federal trade secret laws, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraudulent suppression, intentional interference, and conspiracy. At the end of an eight-day jury trial, the plaintiff sought an 8-figure award, plus punitive damages. After deliberating for just over three hours, the jury returned a defense verdict on all counts.
  • Product liability: Served as lead counsel for a global electrical automation company in a New Jersey state court personal injury case alleging negligence. The plaintiff was a crane mechanic injured by the sudden movement of a power cable reel on a massive ship-to-shore gantry container crane. The crane had been serviced by our client one month prior to his accident, and the plaintiff claimed it left the crane in an unsafe condition, proximately causing millions of dollars of injuries. After a jury trial lasting 10 days over three weeks with 13 witnesses, the plaintiff opted to settle the case for a confidential sum satisfactory to our client immediately prior to closing arguments.
  • Commercial Litigation: Successfully represented the Ohio Valley Conference in its dispute with Jacksonville State University regarding the University’s failure to pay an exit fee when it left the conference. A judge of the Circuit Court of Calhoun County dismissed the OVC’s lawsuit based on State immunity. Following our appeal of that order, the Supreme Court of Alabama reversed the trial court’s decision and determined the OVC’s claims against JSU’s officials did not constitute claims against the State, and, therefore, were not barred by State immunity. Ohio Valley Conf. v. Jones, No. SC-2022-0930, 2023 WL 3559583 (Ala. May 19, 2023). Following the successful appeal, JSU agreed to settle by paying the bulk of the exit fee.
  • Commercial litigation: Obtained verdict for well-known manufacturer in fraud and breach of warranty lawsuit involving sale and servicing of an agricultural tractor. Plaintiff’s counsel asked for more than $3 million in closing argument. The jury found against the dealer defendant for $1.4 million but returned a defense verdict on all counts in favor of our client.
  • Wrongful Death: Obtained defense verdict in a wrongful death lawsuit arising out of a Sea Doo accident on Smith Lake. The decedent’s mother sued our client alleging he was the driver of a Sea Doo that crashed into a dock, killing her daughter. After a trial lasting 6 days, the jury answered a special interrogatory finding our client was not the driver and then rendered a verdict in our client’s favor on all claims.
  • Product liability: Served as lead counsel for an Italian manufacturer of industrial machinery that makes plastic netting for use in erosion control, construction projects, and agriculture. Plaintiff got his arm stuck in the rollers of a machine and sought damages for personal injury. After a week of trial, Plaintiff obtained a verdict for approximately half of the damages requested in closing argument. Following an appeal, the case was settled for a confidential amount significantly below the jury verdict.
  • Commercial litigation: Obtained a $2.09 million jury verdict for a corporate client in a commercial dispute tried to a jury in federal court in Tennessee. Following an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, we tried the case a second time and obtained a $4.711 million jury verdict for our client.
  • Product liability: Obtained a defense verdict for a well-known manufacturer of agricultural and construction equipment in a case filed by an Alabama farmer claiming breach of various warranties relating to his farm tractor. The jury deliberated for a little over an hour.
  • Environmental litigation: Obtained a multi-million-dollar settlement for the client, a commercial nursery, in a Clean Water Act (CWA) lawsuit filed against a neighboring business. The client’s nursery crops and business were damaged as a result of the defendant’s contamination of an irrigation pond with agricultural pesticides and other chemicals.
  • Real estate litigation: Obtained win for client in bench trial over boundary line dispute. Plaintiff asserted claims for trespass, nuisance, conspiracy, abuse of process, outrage, negligence, and slander of title, as well as a request for sanctions and an award of attorneys’ fees. Opponents sought approximately $200,000 from our clients. After a two-day trial, the court ruled in favor of our clients and dismissed all claims, as well as the request for fees and costs.
  • Insurance litigation: Served as coverage counsel for an insurer, helping it settle a dangerous wrongful death case and seeking reimbursement of the settlement amount from a company that agreed to indemnify the client’s insured and that company’s insurer. Following aggressive discovery and briefing, and argument of several dispositive motions, we settled the case and recovered nearly $1.6 million for the client.
  • Insurance: Obtained complete relief for insurer in garnishment action. The action concerned an educators liability policy. Plaintiffs’ counsel obtained a $2 million default judgment against an insured teacher in a corporal punishment case in Macon County, Alabama. Before the default was entered, the insurer had withdrawn from the teacher’s defense based on non-cooperation. We removed the garnishment action to federal court and obtained summary judgment on the coverage and garnishment issues. Plaintiff appealed, and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the judgment. Bolden v. Nautilus Ins. Co., No. 22-12748, 2023 WL 4614509 (11th Cir. July 19, 2023).
  • Commercial litigation: Represented India’s oldest generic pharmaceutical manufacturer in a case filed by one of the world’s largest generic pharmaceutical companies claiming nine-figure damages and alleging intentional interference with contract, breach of contract, and deceptive trade practices. Following extensive motion practice and discovery, the case was resolved on favorable terms satisfactory to our client.
  • Construction Arbitration: Hotel owner and its insurer sought to recover damages resulting from flooding after a wall collapsed in an underground transformer vault adjacent to the hotel. Case was tried for two days to a panel of three arbitrators. The panel rendered an award in favor of our client.
  • Product liability: Obtained dismissal of a Swiss global provider in the field of mechanical and system engineering following a successful personal jurisdiction challenge in a serious personal injury case. Ex parte Güdel AG, 183 So. 3d 147 (Ala. 2015).
  • Insurance: Representation of a European insurance carrier in the analysis, evaluation, and settlement of hundreds of high-exposure metal-on-metal hip implant claims pending around the United States.
  • Product liability: Defense of a major German supplier of mining and tunneling equipment and safety systems in a class action (Alabama) and a mass action (West Virginia) purportedly involving more than 30,000 plaintiffs alleging exposure to polymeric diphenyl methane diisocyanate.
  • Product liability: Obtained dismissal of wrongful death case against the manufacturer of a refuse truck. Plaintiff’s decedent was killed when he fell off the riding step on the back of the rear-loading garbage truck. The Court granted our Rule 702 motion to exclude Plaintiff’s liability expert witness and granted summary judgment in favor of our client. Beam v. McNeilus Truck and Manufacturing, Inc., 697 F. Supp. 2d 1267 (N.D. Ala. 2010).
  • Commercial litigation: Obtained six-figure settlement in a trademark infringement/deceptive trade practices lawsuit in Ohio on behalf of one of the world's largest electrical engineering companies.

When I started practicing law in the early 1990s, Alabama had a reputation as a ‘tort hell.’ As a consequence, I was able to acquire valuable experience defending high-exposure cases in difficult venues against confident opponents. Using this experience today helps me achieve successful outcomes for clients facing demanding situations.”

R. Bruce Barze, Jr.
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Education

  • The University of Alabama School of Law, Tuscaloosa, AL, J.D., 1992, summa cum laude; Alabama Law Review; Order of the Coif; M. Leigh Harrison Scholar; Hugo Black Scholar
  • Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, B.A., Political Science, 1987

Admitted to Practice

  • Alabama, 1992

Awards & Accolades

  • Chambers USA, General Commercial Litigation, Ranked Individual (Band 2)
  • Member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA)
  • The Best Lawyers in America, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Insurance Law, Environmental Litigation, Product Liability Litigation-Defendants, 2010-present
  • The Best Lawyers in America, 2019 and 2024 “Lawyer of the Year,” Insurance Law in Birmingham, Alabama
  • The Best Lawyers in America, 2020 “Lawyer of the Year,” Product Liability Litigation-Defendants in Birmingham, Alabama
  • Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America
  • Mid-South Super Lawyers, 2008-present
  • Mid-South Super Lawyers, Top 50 Alabama Lawyers, 2017, 2021-2023
  • Mid-South Super Lawyers, Top 50 Birmingham Lawyers, 2020, 2021
  • Benchmark Litigation, Local Litigation Star
  • Who’s Who Legal, Product Liability Defense, 2011- present
  • AV (Preeminent rating) Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell

Memberships & Activities

  • Appointed by Supreme Court to Standing Committee on the Alabama Rules of Evidence, 2009- present
  • International Association of Defense Counsel
  • Alabama Defense Lawyers Association, President, 2007-2008
  • DRI, Board of Directors, 2011-2014
  • Association of Defense Trial Attorneys (ADTA), Executive Council, 2021-present
  • Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America
    • Member, Diversity Law Institute
    • Member, Trial Law Institute
  • British Insurance Law Association
  • Boy Scout Troop 28, Assistant Scoutmaster
  • Former Member, Mountain Brook School System, Early Warning Panel

Recent Publications and Speaking Engagements

  • October 18, 2023 – Speaker at International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC) Webinar entitled, “Pending Civil Litigation Rule Proposals –The Defense Weighs In.”
  • October 12, 2023 – Speaker at joint seminar with Carter Perry Bailey LLP entitled, “Nuclear Verdicts Trending in the US,” in London, England.
  • Fall 2023 ADLA Journal Article – In Federal Court: Call Them Daubert Motions No More!
  • October 14, 2022 – Speaker at the IADC International Corporate Counsel College in Vienna, Austria. Panel presentation entitled, “See EU on the Other Side - The Trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Framework Renewed.”
  • September 18, 2019 – Speaker at North American Regional Meeting of Insuralex Global Insurance Lawyers Group in Chicago, Illinois. Seminar presentation on cutting-edge legal issues, including a bad faith law update, a cannabis primer and legal update, a presentation on cyber threats, and coverage issues arising from the #MeToo movement.
  • May 1, 2019 – Moderator for Panel, “Traps for the Unwary – Insurance Coverage & Related Issues,” at the 78th Annual Meeting of the Association of Defense Trial Attorneys, St. Andrews, Scotland.
  • October 8, 2018 – Speaker at joint seminar with Carter Perry Bailey LLP entitled, “Insurance Coverage Implications following the ‘Death of a Company’ – A Comparison of Outcomes Under US and English Law,” London, England.

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