Adam Charnes focuses his practice on appellate, constitutional and complex business litigation. Mr. Charnes has extensive experience in cases pending in federal and state courts of appeals across the nation, including the United States Supreme Court. He also has been responsible for a broad range of business litigation matters, including contract, business torts, environmental, copyright and other commercial litigation. He regularly represents clients in constitutional litigation and in class actions.
Following law school, Mr. Charnes served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and to Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Prior to joining the firm, he was an associate at a Washington, D.C. law firm and then was an executive-level in-house litigator for a Fortune 500 company. From 2002 to 2003, Mr. Charnes served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy at the United States Department of Justice. At the Office of Legal Policy, he was responsible for various legal policy matters, including counter-terrorism policy, the President’s racial profiling initiative, and civil justice reform, and for assisting with the selection and confirmation of federal judges.
Mr. Charnes is a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. He was awarded the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award in July 2003. While at Harvard Law School, Mr. Charnes was the recipient of the Sears Prize, awarded to the three students with the top academic performance during their first year of law school. He was recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® for Appellate Law and Commercial Litigation in 2013 and the five years immediately preceding. Mr. Charnes is listed in the 2012 and the five years immediately preceding editions of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in the area of General Commercial Litigation. He has been named a 2013 North Carolina "Super Lawyer" in the area of Appellate Law, and one of the top 100 lawyers in North Carolina, by North Carolina Super Lawyers. Mr. Charnes was named a "Litigation Star" among North Carolina attorneys and a “Fourth Circuit Litigation Star” in the 2013 edition of Benchmark Litigation. He was also named a 2013 "Greensboro Lawyer of the Year" in the area of Appellate Law by The Best Lawyers in America®. He is AV® rated by Martindale-Hubbell.*
*CV, BV, and AV are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedure's standards and policies.
Represents DuPont on appeal defending $919 million trade secrets verdict
DuPont v. Kolon Industries, Inc. – In a pending case, represents DuPont in defending a $919 million jury verdict and permanent injunction related to a trade secrets theft.
Obtained reversal of an adverse products liability ruling in North Carolina Supreme Court
Stark v. Ford Motor Company, 723 S.E.2d 753 (N.C. 2012) – Represented Ford Motor Company in a petition for discretionary review and merits briefing in the North Carolina Supreme Court in an appeal from an adverse products liability ruling in the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court reversed the lower court ruling against Ford in an opinion establishing favorable products liability law for manufacturers.
Defended landmark $3.4 billion class action settlement on appeal in D.C. Circuit
Cobell v. Salazar, 679 F.3d 909 (D.C. Cir. 2012) – Successfully defended a landmark $3.4 billion class settlement with the United States government on behalf of 500,000 Native American class members in an appeal in the D.C. Circuit brought by various intervenors and class objectors.
Obtained reversal of an adverse $14 million jury verdict
Eureka Water Co. v. Nestlé Waters North America, 690 F.3d 1139 (10th Cir. 2012) – Represented Nestlé Waters in successfully overturning an adverse $14 million jury verdict in a case involving claims of breach of contract and tortious interference with contract.
Tried an ERISA breach of fiduciary duty class action
Represented Reynolds American Inc. in a five week bench trial in an ERISA class action arising out of the spin-off of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. from R.J.R. Nabisco. The claims stem from the liquidation of frozen non-employer stock funds within the company 401(k) plan.
Represents Krispy Kreme in complex business litigation
Represents Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corp. in a complex breach of contract and tortious interference with contact case arising out of the award of company franchises in the Philippines.
Obtained affirmance of summary judgment for AT&T
Duval Wiedmann, L.L.C. v. Inforocket.com, Inc., 620 F.3d 496 (5th Cir. 2010) – Represented AT&T in appeal of summary judgment for AT&T in a case alleging breach of a license agreement.
Successful dormant commerce clause challenge to labeling law
International Bottled Water Ass’n v. Paterson, 2009 WL 2482137 (S.D.N.Y. 2009) – Successfully challenged the constitutionality of a beverage labeling provision in New York’s “Bottle Bill” on dormant commerce clause grounds and obtained a six-month stay of implementation of other provisions of the new law on due process grounds.
Represented Governor of South Carolina in constitutional challenge to use of federal stimulus funds
Edwards v. South Carolina, 678 S.E.2d 412 (S.C. 2009) – Represented the Governor of South Carolina in a proceeding in the original jurisdictional of the South Carolina Supreme Court challenging on constitutional grounds a state law governing the use of federal stimulus funds.
Professional & Community Activities
Judicial Conference of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Permanent Member
Chief Justice Joseph Branch American Inn of Court, Senior Barrister
North Carolina Bar Association, Member
Federal Bar Association, Middle District of North Carolina Chapter, President-Elect
Supreme Court Historical Society, Member
Harvard Law Review, Past Executive Editor