James L. Chapman, IV

Jim focuses his legal practice on representing businesses and individuals in litigation. He is frequently hired in matters involving large loss exposure in injury, death and property damage cases. He also has extensive experience litigating commercial disputes.

Jim has tried over 100 cases to jury verdicts for his clients and formerly taught courses in Trial Practice and Federal Courts at Regent University School of Law. Jim speaks and writes on select topics of interest to the insurance, maritime and unmanned systems industries.

Apart from the practice of law, Jim is most proud of his service to his alma mater, Virginia Tech. From 2013 – 2017, he served on the governing Board of Visitors, and was Rector (Chair) of the Board in 2016 - 2017. Virginia Tech is a leading public research university with an annual budget in excess of $1.6 billion, enrolling over 30,000 students annually. The University motto is Ut Prosim, Latin for “That I May Serve,” which is Jim’s passion for both Virginia Tech and his clients.
Washington & Lee University School of Law, J.D., 1982
Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, B.A., magna cum laude, 1979
Military Service
United States Army, Judge Advocate General's Corps, Captain
Bar/Court Admissions
Virginia State Bar
North Carolina State Bar
United States Supreme Court
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
United States District Court, Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia
United States District Court, Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of North Carolina
Community Involvement
Future of Hampton Roads, Inc. (President, 2000-2001)
Rotary International, Norfolk Sunrise Club (President, 2013-2014)
Representative Experience
Representative Matters
Articles and Presentations
  • Federal and state court litigation in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Maryland, New Mexico and California.
  • Defend businesses and individuals in casualty litigation arising from injury, death, property damage and other torts.
  • Vessel arrests and attachments to obtain security for maritime liens.
  • Maritime salvage disputes, including treasure salvage.
  • Lecturer on insurance and other topics of interest to the maritime industry.
  • Adjunct Professor of Law, Regent University School of Law (2001—2011)
  • Captain, United States Army, Judge Advocate General’s Corps (Active Duty 1982-1986).



  • Obtained defense jury verdict in $10,000,000 railroad worker asbestosis case
  • Obtained judgment of exoneration for a leading aggregate supplier arising from vessel casualty
  • Successfully defended marine equipment manufacturer in product liability defect case involving widespread structural failure claims
  • Obtained defense jury verdict in favor of raw materials supplier sued by manufacturer for $1,500,000 on claim of supplying contaminated product; jury awarded $900,000 to client on counterclaim against manufacturer
  • Obtained $48,000,000 maritime salvage award of gold treasure and $2,000,000 of other historic artifacts recovered from the 1857 wreck of the S.S. Central America
  • Obtained $16,000,000 jury verdict for bank defrauded in loan participation scheme
  • Obtained $600,000 judgment against vessel for damage to historic railroad bridge


  • Favorably resolved wrongful death claim by estates of three families collectively seeking $25,000,000 for drowning deaths at marina
  • Favorably resolved $10,000,000 claim for traumatic lower extremity amputation
  • Favorably resolved $20,000,000 claim for catastrophic brain injury to maritime worker
  • Successfully settled $20,000,000 marina fire loss claim for consortium of insurers following favorable liability ruling on summary judgment
  • Obtained favorable recovery on behalf of insurer in mass tort carbon monoxide poisoning and death cases against gas hot water system installer
  • Favorably resolved $2,000,000 dissident shareholder claim on behalf of majority shareholders of privately held mortgage brokerage without litigation


  • Borrower’s counsel for closely held commercial fishing business in complex $15,000,000 multi-vessel fleet refinancing transaction
  • Seller’s counsel for closely-held alcohol beverage distribution business in multi-phased $30,000,000 purchase


  • “American Justice: The Intersection of Legal Liability and Autonomous Systems”, 2019 Unmanned Systems Symposium, AUVSI (October 2019)
  •  To Be Forgotten…or Not to Be Forgotten?, Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel Annual Meeting, Debate Panel Moderator (August 2, 2019)
  • Mitigating the Cost of Data Breach, Defense Research Institute (DRI), Data and Security Dispatch, Volume 4 Issue 2 (October 4, 2018)
  • American Justice: At the Intersection of Legal Liability and Autonomous Systems, presented at the 2nd Annual Unmanned Systems Conference (October 9-10, 2018), Sponsored by the AUVSI Ridge & Valley Chapter, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia
  • Tools, Toys and Torts:  What You Need to Know about Aerial Drones in Virginia, sponsored by Norfolk and Portsmouth Bar Association (September 20, 2018)
  • FRA-Mandated Conductor Training Programs: Don’t Let Yours Become a Train Wreck, sponsored by Virginia Railroad Association (October 2, 2017 Annual Meeting)
  • Shipping and Maritime Law 2014, Roundtable Panel, presented by Corporate Live Wire (October 2014)
  • Deconstructing a Jury Trial, presented to Norfolk and Portsmouth Bar Association (2011)
  • Red Letter Clauses in Marina Slip Leases, presented at SEALI Annual Meeting (2008)
  • Marine Insurance Claims and Practice, presented at Lorman Marine Insurance Seminar (2007)
  • Ten Tempting (But Improper) Closing Arguments, presented at SEALI Annual Meeting (2004)


News and Updates
Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on October 19, 2020
China Conducts Test of Massive Suicide Drone Swarm from Truck-mounted Launcher China shows off its ability to rapidly launch 48 weaponized drones from the back of a truck, as well as…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on October 12, 2020
The Mayflower Autonomous Ship: Pushing The Boundaries Of Self-Driving Robot Ships On Our Oceans The concept of crewless ships is one of the great promises of automation.  It has become…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on October 2, 2020
Dive Technologies Completes Build of Full-Scale Commercial Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle The Boston-based subsea robotics designer and manufacturer announced recently on Linkedin that they’ve begun sea testing their commercial AUV,…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on September 18, 2020
Robot Dogs Join US Air Force Exercise Giving Glimpse at Battlefield of the Future The electronic canines are just one link in what the US military calls the Advanced Battle Management…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on September 11, 2020
Walmart Testing Drones for Deliveries Walmart has launched a pilot program using drones to deliver groceries and household essentials in Fayetteville, North Carolina. U.S. Army Researchers Explore Using Self-Healing Materials for Autonomous…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on September 8, 2020
Robot Boats Leave Autonomous Cars in Their Wake Driverless ships don’t have to worry about crowded roads. And they don’t need bunks – or toilets. Drone-in-a-box takes over aerial security High tech, highly…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on August 31, 2020
The U.S. Navy Plans to Foil Massive ‘Super Swarm’ Drone Attacks by Using the Swarm’s Intelligence against Itself The Navy is developing both offensive and defensive tactics for “Super Swarms” of…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on August 21, 2020
US military investigating report of possible drone flying close to Air Force One The Air Force's 89th Airlift Wing is reviewing a report after people traveling aboard Air Force One on…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on August 14, 2020
Japanese startup creates 'connected' face mask for coronavirus new normal As face coverings become the norm amid the coronavirus pandemic, Donut Robotics has developed an internet-connected “smart mask” that can transmit…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on August 7, 2020
StoreDot’s New UFC Platform Charges Drones in 5 Minutes Typically, it takes 60 to 90 minutes to recharge a drone battery for another 30 minutes of flight time.  This Israeli company…...
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