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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)
Articles and Presentations
Representative Experience
Representative Matters
  • “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)


  • 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


News and Updates
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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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on July 31, 2020
Texas Stadiums Helping Fight Coronavirus with Disinfectant-spraying Drones Stadiums are looking for ways to bring fans back to the stands in time for fall sports despite the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, leading…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on July 22, 2020
Crop-spraying Drone Brings New Life to Sugarcane Farm A farm in South Africa completed a successful trial of crop-spraying drones over selected sections of it’s farm, bringing new life to the…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on July 2, 2020
Self-Driving Forklifts Revolutionize Warehouses Forklift operation involves complex three-dimensional decision making requiring vigilant attention to the operating environment, creating big challenge to full automation. California start up Third Wave Automation has…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on June 5, 2020
U.S. Navy Planning $12B in Unmanned Platforms The U.S. Navy spending plans of the US Navy reveal $8B for aerial drones and $2B each for surface and underwater vehicles. Volvo Partnering with Luminar…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on May 21, 2020
U.S. Construction Firm is Raising Buildings via Drone One of the largest U.S. privately held construction companies is using drones and 360-cameras to share critical project data to teams dispersed across…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on May 15, 2020
New Innovation Advisory Board to Boost NATO Maritime Unmanned Systems Initiative This diverse board of experts seeks to explore how unmanned systems can be effectively integrated across the maritime domain above,…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on May 6, 2020
This Week's Highlight Our favorite article of the week highlights how lessons from wildlife is influencing drone design! Image source: BBC News/Getty Images Company creates drones that can detect COVID-19 symptoms Dragonfly is creating…...
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Week in Review – Autonomous Roundup
Posted on April 22, 2020
This Week's Highlight Even during the lock down, essential workers still need to go to work. Our favorite report this week is from MIT and demonstrates how AI could detect and…...
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Week in Review – Autonomous Roundup
Posted on April 16, 2020
This Week's Highlight The ability to detect infectious and respiratory conditions quickly and efficiently is at the top of the pandemic wish list. Our favorite report this week gives us…...
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