David S. Coats
David Coats is the firm’s co-managing partner and senior litigation partner. In 2023, (as well as in 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022), North Carolina Super Lawyers named David as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in North Carolina. They also named him in 2023 (and in 2021 and 2022) as one of the Top 25 Lawyers in Raleigh. He has been recognized and peer selected for each of the past 17 years for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America; Business North Carolina Magazine’s Legal Elite; and North Carolina Super Lawyers – and in a variety of areas including insurance law, commercial litigation, construction law, and construction litigation. Since 1997, Martindale Hubbell has recognized David with its highest “AV” peer rating and has also recognized him with the highest rating as voted on by the Judiciary. In 2015, Best Lawyers in America selected David as Lawyer of the Year and the best lawyer in insurance law in the Raleigh metropolitan market.
David focuses his practice on commercial litigation, construction defect litigation, insurance coverage litigation, insurance bad faith and unfair claim practices, professional malpractice defense, appellate practice, and municipal and law enforcement liability law, as well as personal injury actions. Experienced in federal and state court proceedings, David is the attorney of record in over 35 published opinions from the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the North Carolina Supreme Court, Federal District Courts in North Carolina and South Carolina, and the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and he has tried a large number of cases to verdict both in state and federal court. David is also a certified mediator and has mediated and arbitrated a variety of cases.
David has lectured at over 25 continuing education seminars for organizations such as the North Carolina Bar Association, the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys, the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, and the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers. His sessions cover a variety of topics including insurance bad faith, construction litigation, the economic loss rule, insurance coverage litigation, jury selection, and trial techniques. He has also been inducted as a fellow in The Litigation Counsel of America – an invitation-only trial lawyer honor society – and as a member of The Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
David’s representative experience includes the following:
- Serving as lead counsel for a contractor sued in multiple venues for wrongful death and personal injury actions arising out of the ConAgra Slim Jim Plant Explosion.
- Serving as lead counsel for a contractor sued for alleged construction defects in 159 chain restaurants in 11 states.
- Serving as lead counsel in defending the bad faith and insurance coverage claims arising out of the Duke Lacrosse cases.
- Winning a jury verdict and a judgment of no liability after a multi-week construction defect trial for a general contractor that constructed a multi-million dollar residential project.
- Securing dismissals for multiple defendants in a taxpayer derivative action in which the plaintiff sought to recover more than $15 million for an alleged fraud and conspiracy surrounding the construction and operation of an entertainment complex.
- Serving as lead defense counsel in multiple assisted living facility memory care unit wrongful death and personal injury claims.
- Serving as lead counsel for the general contractor, developer, or owner in over 125 construction defect and construction contract suits throughout the State.
- Serving as lead counsel for the general contractor or developer in over a dozen suits involving alleged construction defects in large condominium complex or hotel construction defect suits on the North Carolina and South Carolina coast
- Wake Forest University, J.D., 1988
- Guilford College, B.S., 1984
- All North Carolina State and Federal District Courts
- United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
- United States Supreme Court
- Church Mut. Ins. Co. v. Lake Pointe Assisted Living, Inc. et al., 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 19110 (4th Cir. 2022) (on behalf of policyholder declared that insurer had duty to defend class action claims against insured and denied motion to dismiss extra-contractual claims against insurer).
- Holcomb Renovations, Inc. et al. v. Wilson & Ratledge PLLC et al., 871 N.C.App. 589, _____ S.E.2d _____ (2022) (affirmed judgment based on jury verdict for defendant law firm on all counterclaims after all legal malpractice claims dismissed).
- N.C. Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Dana, 379 N.C. 502, 866 S.E.2d 710 (2021) (amicus curiae for insurer declaring UIM insurer entitled to declaration that coverage obligation can’t exceed per accident limit and limiting amount received by individual claimant by the per person limit after set-off).
- New Dunn Hotel, LLC v. K2M Design, Inc., 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90288 (E.D.N.C. 2021) (commercial owner’s tort claims against architect not barred be the economic loss rule).
- Calvin Norton v. Columbus County Board of Elections et al., No. 20-1333 (4th Cir. 2021) (affirmed federal district court’s dismissal of §1983 and other contended election fraud claims)
- Nathaniel Webb v. Town of Cary, et al, 625 Fed. Appx. 191, 2015 U.S. App. Lexis 16315 (4th Cir. 2015) (affirmed summary judgment for civil rights claims against police officers based on qualified immunity)
- Nationwide Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Brinley’s Grading Serv., 225 N.C.App. 531, 737 S.E.2d 192 (2013)(applicability of CGL policy “leased employee” exclusion in wrongful death action)
- Thornton v. Stuckey, 218 N.C.App. 458, 721 S.E.2d 763 (2012) (affirmed judgment based on jury verdict finding gross contributory negligence and proper use of toxicology expert)
- Ford v. Paddock, 196 N.C.App. 133, 674 S.E.2d 689 (2009) (wrongful death action against adoption agency and county department of human services arising out of adopted mother’s murder of a four-year-old child)
- Park v. Young Homes, Inc., COA07-67, 2007 N.C. App. LEXIS 2107 (Ct. App. Oct. 2, 2007) (affirmed judgment based on jury verdict for a general contractor in alleged construction defect action)
- Magnolia Mfg. of N.C., Inc. v. Erie Ins. Exch., 361 N.C. 213, 639 S.E.2d 443 (2007) (applicability of CGL policy “collapse” coverage exclusion)
- King Assocs., LLP v. Bechtler Dev. Corp., 179 N.C.App. 88, 632 S.E.2d 243 (2006) (class action suit involving rail corridor property rights)
- Rainey v. St. Lawrence Homes, Inc., 174 N.C.App. 611, 621 S.E.2d 217 (2005) (alleged surface water run-off and construction defect claims against general contractor and developer)
- Winters v. Allen, COA03-639, 2004 N.C. App. LEXIS 889 (N.C. Ct. App. May 18, 2004) (interpretation of insurance contract “additional payments” provision)
- Swain v. Preston Falls East, L.L.C., 156 N.C.App. 357, 576 S.E.2d 699 (2003), rev. denied, 357 N.C. 255, 583 S.E.2d 290 (2003) (subsequent purchaser contributory negligence for failure to secure EIFS inspection of building prior to purchase)
- Nationwide Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Grady, 130 N.C.App. 292, 502 S.E.2d 648 (1998) (applicability of homeowners’ insurance policy “business pursuits” exclusion)
- Hester v. Allstate Ins. Co., 347 N.C. 345, 493 S.E.2d 416 (1997) (applicability of automobile policy “furnished for regular use” exclusion)
- Daughtry v. Castleberry, 123 N.C.App. 671, 474 S.E.2d 137 (1996), aff’d per curiam, 346 N.C. 272, 485 S.E.2d 45 (1997) (protection of underinsured motorist insurer’s statutory subrogation rights)
- Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Integon Indemnity Corp., 123 N.C.App. 536, 473 S.E.2d 23 (1996) (applicability of homeowners’ insurance policy “motor vehicle” exclusion)
- Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Williams, 123 N.C.App. 103, 472 S.E.2d 220 (1996) (underinsured motorist insurance coverage “named insured” and class 2 insured coverage issues)
- Imperial Cas. & Indemnity Co. v. Radiator Specialty Co., 862 F.Supp. 1437 (E.D.N.C. 1994); aff’d per curiam, 67 F.3d 534 (4th Cir. 1995) (applicability of CGL policy defense and indemnification obligations for multitude of asbestos personal injury claims under exposure trigger of coverage theory)
- Nationwide Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Banks, 114 N.C.App. 760, 443 S.E.2d 93 (1994), rev. denied, 337 N.C. 448, 448 S.E.2d 530 (1994) (applicability of homeowners’ insurance policy “intended by insured” exclusion)
- Harward v. Smith, 114 N.C. App. 263, 441 S.E.2d 313 (1994), rev. denied, 336 N.C. 604, 447 S.E. 2d 391 (1994) (validity of “lump sum” offers of judgment under Rule 68)
- Jefferson-Pilot Fire & Cas. Co. v. Sunbelt Beer Distribs., 839 F.Supp. 376 (D.S.C. 1993) (applicability of CGL policy for wrongful termination claims)
- Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Silverman, 332 N.C. 633, 423 S.E.2d 68 (1992) (applicability of underinsured motorist coverage stacking provisions for class 2 insureds)
- North Carolina Bar Association (Appellate Rules Committee 1996-2000; Chair of Environmental Issues Committee 1994-1995; Member Litigation and Construction Law Sections)
- North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys
- Wake County Bar Association (Board of Directors 2002-2004)
- Wake County SPCA (Board of Directors 2021-2024)
- Campaign Treasurer 2020 Re-Election Committee North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Mark Davis
- 2017-inaugural class of the Chief Justice’s North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society for outstanding pro bono contributions
- Campaign Treasurer 2014 Election Committee North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge Mark Davis
- Earth Share of North Carolina (Board of Directors 2004-2016; Chairman of the Board 2012-2014)
- North Carolina Rails Trails (Board Counsel and Board of Directors 1992-2014)
- Raleigh Rotary Club (Paul Harris Fellow)
- Hayes Barton Methodist Church
- Volunteer Lawyers Program
- Campaign Treasurer 2012 Re-Election Committee North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge Cressie Thigpen
- Campaign Treasurer 2008 Re-Election Committee North Carolina Court of Appeals Chief Judge John Martin
- Campaign Treasurer 2006 Election Committee North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Sarah Parker
- Campaign Treasurer 2004 Election Committee North Carolina Supreme Court Associate Justice Sarah Parker
- Campaign Treasurer 2000 Re-Election Committee North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge John Martin