John Jo is a business litigator who counsels and advocates for clients in a variety of business disputes, such as breach of contract matters, insurance coverage disputes, tortious interference claims, and other business-related litigation. He has experience in all aspects of dispute resolution, from pre-litigation risk management and settlement negotiations, to litigation in federal and state court, and to appeals to the state and federal appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court.
John also focuses his practice on insurance coverage matters, representing both policyholders and insurance companies with respect to commercial insurance policies, including directors and officers, representations and warranties, cybersecurity, commercial general liability, and crime/employee dishonesty policies.
John joined Smith Anderson in 2006 after graduating with honors from Duke University Law School. He currently serves on Smith Anderson’s Recruiting Committee. He also enjoys serving the community through volunteering with non-profit organizations, particularly those that benefit children and families in North Carolina.
Professional & Community Affiliations
- North Carolina Bar Association
- Appointed Council Member, Litigation Section (2015-present)
- Appointed Council Member, Insurance Law Section (2016-present)
- Wake County Bar Association
- Member, Board of Directors, Prevent Child Abuse, North Carolina Inc. (2017-2019)
- NC Healthy Start Foundation (2014-2017)
- Member, Board of Directors
- Chair, Governance Committee (2015-2017)
- Volunteer Lawyers Program, Legal Aid of North Carolina
- Volunteer Mentor, Boys and Girls Club of America (2012-2013)
Honors & Awards
- North Carolina Super Lawyers (2019), Rising Star (2012-2016)
- Hot List - Southern Region, Lawyers of Color (2014)
- Represented an insurance company in a coverage dispute with a state guaranty association for over 40 claims originally insured by an insolvent third party insurer. Nearly half of the claims were dismissed in favor of our client on an early pre-trial motion, and the remaining claims were resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties.
- Regularly represent policyholders in all aspects of insurance coverage issues, including working with brokers to negotiating insurance policy terms and obtain tail coverage, analyzing coverage for potential claims, providing notice of claims or potential claims, disputing carrier’s denial or reservation of rights, and litigating insurance coverage disputes.
- Represent an agricultural technology company in its national IP enforcement program to ensure that growers are not misusing its protected seed.
- Successfully defended a commercial lender in an action brought by guarantor on a series of construction and business loans in default, including claims for breach of fiduciary duty, fraudulent concealment, and unfair and deceptive trade practices arising from the lender’s alleged failure to uncover and disclose embezzlement by borrower. Pre-discovery dismissal of the guarantor’s lawsuit was affirmed by the N.C. Court of Appeals.
- Successfully obtained a dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a client’s former employee, asserting False Claims Act and tort claims based on allegations that the employee was constructively discharged for reporting an alleged theft of government property. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina dismissed the lawsuit prior to discovery, and the Fourth Circuit unanimously affirmed after oral argument. The U.S. Supreme Court denied the plaintiff’s petition for review after the filing of a brief in opposition to the petition.
- Represented a policyholder in a declaratory judgment action filed in federal court by an insurance company denying coverage for a collapsed building under a property policy. Obtained a settlement prior to discovery.
- Represented an insurance company in federal court in a dispute with a policyholder and its lender regarding coverage for an allegedly stolen aircraft.
- Defended a soft drink bottler against claims for breach of an alleged long-term requirements contract brought by a cooperative of soft drink bottlers. The case was resolved by confidential settlement after a week-long trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina.
- Represented a client in a dispute with a subcontractor’s insurance carrier who denied coverage under an additional insured endorsement for multiple wrongful death lawsuits arising from a subcontractor’s work.
- Defended general partners of a real estate development partnership against claims by minority partners following the sale of real property owned by the partnership.
- Successfully defended a survey research organization by obtaining a pre-trial dismissal of a claim alleging violation of the Telemarketing Sales Rule. Dismissal was affirmed by the N.C. Court of Appeals.
News & Publications
- North Carolina Super Lawyers Recognizes Forty Smith Anderson Lawyers as Super Lawyers and Rising Stars in 2019Super Lawyers, 01.24.2019
- SafeguardingBusiness.com Serves as Resource for Businesses Looking to Better Protect Their Innovation and Information04.15.2014
- Fourth Circuit Holds that Motor Carrier has No Claim Under Federal Law Against Shipper for Unpaid Freight Charges11.14.2013
- Author, New ISO Forms for CGL Policies Seek to Exclude Coverage for Data Breaches, NC Bar Association Insurance Law Section Newsletter, Vol. II, No. 1, January 2015
- Author, Proximate Cause Theory Applied to Determine Number of Occurrences, Case Note, ABA Section of Litigation, Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee Website, March 11, 2013
- Author, Broker Owed No Duty to Explain Policy Terms to Insured, Case Note, ABA Section of Litigation, Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee Website, January 9, 2013
- Co-Speaker, “Commercial General Liability Insurance and Duty to Defend,” NC Bar Association Insurance Law Section CLE, Cary, N.C.01.31.2019
- Panelist, "Risks, Costs, Disputes and Litigation," NC Chamber and U.S. Chamber of Commerce's 2015 Cybersecurity Conference, Durham, N.C.12.2015
- Co-Speaker, "The Lifecycle of an Insurance Claim (With a Focus on D&O Insurance)," Smith Anderson's Executive Roundtable Series: Session I, RTP, N.C.03.2015
- Speaker, "You Will Be Hacked (If You Haven't Already)...," Joint Event Presented by The Research Triangle Park, Durham Chamber of Commerce and Smith Anderson, RTP, N.C.01.2015
- Panelist, "It's 2014 - You Will Be Hacked!," Joint Event Presented by The Research Triangle Park, Durham Chamber of Commerce and Smith Anderson, RTP, N.C.03.2014
Bar & Court Admissions
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
- U.S. District Courts for the Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of North Carolina
- All State Courts in North Carolina
Duke University Law School, J.D., cum laude, 2006
Duke University, B.A., cum laude, 1996