Duke University, J.D., with high honors, with high honors; Order of the Coif; Note and Comment Editor, Duke Law Journal
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, A.B., John Motley Morehead Scholar
John Wester concentrates his practice in the trials and appeals of complex civil litigation. He has prosecuted and defended numerous class action cases in both federal and state courts and has extensive experience in the North Carolina Business Court.
John routinely handles cases with a high probability of going to trial. He often enters a case after it is underway, and in some instances, at the appellate stage. His trials and appeals encompass contract, corporate governance and shareholder rights disputes, federal securities claims, ERISA actions, unfair trade practice and trade secret disputes, tax controversies and employment discrimination claims.
John has served as lead defense counsel in several noteworthy cases, including before the U.S. Supreme Court in Ford Motor v. EEOC. The decision established precedent for ending employer liability in employment discrimination cases. He was also lead counsel in the North Carolina Supreme Court for three governors who successfully challenged the general assembly for violating constitutional separation of powers in McCrory v. Berger.
In 1994, John was inducted as a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers.
In 2009-10, he served as president of the North Carolina Bar Association.
Honors & Awards
- Woodward/White, Inc., The Best Lawyers in America, recognized in the following seven categories: bet-the-company litigation, appellate practice, commercial litigation, litigation - intellectual property, litigation - labor and employment law, litigation - mergers and acquisitions, litigation - securities, 1993-2016
- Charlotte Bet-the-Company Litigation Lawyer of the Year, 2011
- Charlotte Appellate Practice Lawyer of the Year, 2012, 2015
- Charlotte Litigation – Labor & Employment Lawyer of the Year, 2012, 2013
- Charlotte Litigation – Mergers & Acquisitions Lawyer of the Year, 2013, 2014
- Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, business litigation and labor & employment, 2004-15
- North Carolina Super Lawyers, business litigation, 2006-16; Top 10 North Carolina Super Lawyer, 2009-13, 2015; Top 25 Charlotte Super Lawyer, 2013-16
- Benchmark Litigation, North Carolina leading litigation attorney, class actions, commercial litigation, employment, intellectual property, securities, 2012-16
- Martindale-Hubbell, AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated
Served as lead defense counsel in Elmore v. Cone Mills Corp., a federal class action brought by salaried employees to force Cone Mills to contribute a large pension surplus to an ESOP. After three favorable Fourth Circuit rulings, the federal trial court ruled no liability for the company.
Served as lead counsel in Hyatt v. Shalala, a class action for North Carolina's disabled citizens. In partnership with Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, John and the firm prosecuted the case through its 20-year run in the federal courts, including five arguments in the Fourth Circuit and a successful petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court. As a result, approximately 150,000 North Carolinians won new disability hearings under new standards, and the Social Security Administration revised a national regulation on disability.
Represented petitioners-taxpayers in Fowler v. Department of Revenue regarding a dispute over domicile following the sale of petitioners’ company. Petitioners prevailed at trial, and the North Carolina Business Court and North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court ruling.
Defended a credit union in a potential class action regarding disclosures to members. The trial court denied class certification and later granted summary judgment for the credit union.
Represented an international shipping/logistics company sued in a nationwide class action, Foster v. CEVA Freight, LLC, alleging breach of contract between the company and approximately 2,000 independent contractors. Prior to engagement of our firm, the federal court for the Western District of North Carolina had certified claims for breach of contract and denied summary judgment. Plaintiffs’ expert on damages for the class submitted a report stating that damages exceeded $100 million. Following depositions of several class members and their expert, John and the firm’s team moved for decertification of the class. The Court reversed its class certification ruling, a decision that led to an end to the litigation.
Defended a national motorsports company against a minority shareholder’s suit to block a proposed merger, resulting in a dismissal by the North Carolina Business Court and affirmed by the North Carolina Court of Appeals. In a lengthy trial for appraisal of the merged company’s stock value, the jury returned a highly favorable verdict for the defense. Smith v. North Carolina Motor Speedway.
Represented a national industrial gas company against a competitor's claims arising out of the formation of a regional joint venture. The North Carolina Business Court upheld the validity of the joint venture. Praxair, Inc. v. Airgas, Inc.
Served as lead defense counsel for Ford Motor Company before the U.S. Supreme Court. The ruling for Ford established precedent for cutting off employer liability in employment discrimination cases. Ford Motor v. EEOC.
Defended a regional printing company against an EEOC action on behalf of employees alleging systemic age discrimination. Won summary judgment dismissing all claims; the Fourth Circuit affirmed in full. On remand, secured 90 percent of employer’s attorneys' fees from the EEOC. EEOC v. Clay Printing.
Defended a national meatpacking company against a regional food broker’s allegations of unfair trade practices and interference with contract. The federal court jury returned a verdict for the defense on all claims. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the jury’s verdict. MidSouth Brokerage Co. v. Dak Foods.
Served as lead counsel for Gov. James G. Martin and cabinet secretaries in a federal class action challenging the constitutionality of employment practices in state government. The Fourth Circuit ruled that discharges of all policy-making state employees were presumptively lawful. Stott v. Martin.
Defended North Carolina secretary of revenue in a federal class action alleging illegal taxation of state employee retirement benefits. Reversing the trial court, the Fourth Circuit ruled that qualified immunity protected the cabinet secretary against all claims. Swanson v. Powers.
News & Events
- Feb. 5, 2016
- Jan. 29, 2016
- Jan. 27, 2016
- Jan. 5, 2016
- Oct. 21, 2015
- Aug. 18, 2015
- Triangle Business Journal, Aug. 6, 2015
- Aug. 4, 2015
- July 2, 2015
- May 28, 2015
- The Charlotte Observer, May 10, 2015
- John R. Wester quoted in North Carolina Lawyers Weekly on "Bills would shake up NC judicial elections"North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, April 29, 2015
- John R. Wester quoted in Greensboro News & Record on "Analysis: Ruling could rebalance power in N.C. government"News & Record, March 22, 2015
- March 17, 2015
- John R. Wester quoted in The Charlotte Observer on "NC legislature’s appointment power argued in landmark case"The Charlotte Observer, March 5, 2015
- Jan. 21, 2015
- Eighteen Robinson Bradshaw Attorneys Named to North Carolina’s 2015 Legal Elite, Legal Elite Hall of FameBusiness North Carolina, Jan. 8, 2015
- Dec. 23, 2014
- John R. Wester quoted in The Charlotte Observer on "Even juror pay at risk in squeezed North Carolina system"The Charlotte Observer, Dec. 14, 2014
- Nov. 13, 2014
- More Ranked Attorneys Than Any Other North Carolina Firm for Fifth Consecutive YearOct. 29, 2014
- Twelve Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson Attorneys Recognized as Best Lawyers’ ‘2015 Charlotte Lawyers of the Year’Firm Has Most Charlotte Attorneys Named to List for Fourth Consecutive YearAug. 19, 2014
- Firm Topped North Carolina Rankings in Eight Practice AreasAug. 19, 2014
- May 23, 2014
- May 1, 2014
- Charlotte-based Firm Named to BTI Client Service A-Team 2014 Honor RollFeb. 10, 2014
- Jan. 21, 2014
- Eighteen Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson Attorneys Included Among North Carolina’s 2014 ‘Legal Elite,’ ‘Legal Elite Hall of Fame’Business North Carolina, Jan. 6, 2014
- North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, December 9,2013
- John R. Wester and Thomas P. Holderness Featured in North Carolina Lawyers Weekly on "Members Only: Plaintiffs must qualify for their own class"North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, Nov. 25, 2013
- More Ranked Attorneys Than Any Other North Carolina Firm For Fourth Consecutive YearOct. 29, 2013
- Aug. 15, 2013
- Aug. 15, 2013
- May 24, 2013
- Six Shareholders Among State’s Top 100 Attorneys, Two in Top 10Jan. 18, 2013
- Nineteen Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson Attorneys Included Among North Carolina’s 2013 ‘Legal Elite,’ ‘Legal Elite Hall of Fame’Jan. 7, 2013
- North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, Nov. 12, 2012
- More Ranked Attorneys Than Any Other North Carolina Firm For Third Consecutive YearNov. 9, 2012
- Charlotte Firm Named One of Four ‘Recommended’ Appellate Litigation Firms In North CarolinaRobinson Bradshaw Publication, November 9, 2012
- Firm Once Again Has Most Charlotte Attorneys Named to ListOct. 2, 2012
- Aug. 23, 2012
- John R. Wester quoted in North Carolina Lawyers Weekly on "Federal judge decertifies $100 million class-action suit against trucking company"North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, Aug. 10, 2012
- June 8, 2012
- Robinson Bradshaw Publication, February 6, 2012
- Charlotte Observer, Jan. 28, 2012
- Seven Shareholders Among State’s Top 100 Attorneys, Two in Top 10Jan. 23, 2012
- The Charlotte Observer, December 8, 2011
- John R. Wester and Richard C. Worf, Jr. Commentary in Westlaw Journal - Class Action on Commonality in Class Actions after Wal-Mart v. DukesWestlaw Journal - Class Action, Nov. 21, 2011
- Charlotte-based Firm Has More Ranked Lawyers Than Any Other North Carolina FirmNov. 16, 2011
- Thirteen Robinson Bradshaw Attorneys Recognized as Best Lawyers’ ‘2012 Charlotte Lawyers of the Year’Robinson Bradshaw Receives 14 Awards in 2012 RankingOct. 25, 2011
- Sept. 1, 2011
- Charlotte Firm Leads All Other N.C. Firms in Ranked Attorneys, No. 1 Practice Areas for Third-Straight YearJune 14, 2011
- MSNBC.com, March 27, 2011
- Forty-Seven Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson Attorneys Named 2011 North Carolina Super Lawyers, Rising StarsSeven Shareholders Included Among State’s Top 100 Attorneys, Two in the Top 10North Carolina Super Lawyers, Jan. 21, 2011
- Twenty-One Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson Attorneys Named Among North Carolina’s ‘Legal Elite,’ ‘Legal Elite Hall of Fame’Business North Carolina, Jan. 12, 2011
- Wilmington Star-News, Jan. 5, 2011
- Best Lawyers in America®, Oct. 25, 2010
- Oct. 19, 2010
- Best Lawyers in America®, Aug. 9, 2010
- Twenty-Two Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson Attorneys Named to Chambers USA, Most in North Carolina for Second Straight YearCharlotte-Based Firm Again Recognized as State Leader in Eight Practice AreasJune 11, 2010
- The Buddy System: How John ‘Buddy’ Wester’s disarming nature earned him a good name and the North Carolina Bar Association presidencyNorth Carolina Super Lawyers 2010, February 2010
- Forty-Six Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson Attorneys Named North Carolina Super Lawyers, North Carolina Rising Stars for 2010Jan. 28, 2010
- Best Lawyers in America®, Aug. 10, 2009
- June 27, 2009
- June 18, 2009
- Jan. 23, 2009
- Dec. 31, 2008
- Sept. 19, 2008
- September 8, 2008
- June 14, 2008
- Jan. 23, 2008
- Nov. 21, 2007
- Sept. 7, 2007
- Chambers Recognizes Eighteen Robinson Bradshaw Lawyers as America's Top Leading Lawyers for BusinessJune 15, 2007
- Jan. 26, 2007
- Dec. 31, 2006
- Sept. 6, 2006
- June 2, 2006
- Jan. 18, 2006
222 E. Franklin Street
Chapel Hill, NCOct. 11, 2015
Bar & Foundation Center
2850 Zebulon Avenue
Charlotte, North CarolinaMay 8, 2015
- Nov. 26, 2013Robinson Bradshaw Publication
- Nov. 2011Westlaw Journal - Class Action
- Jan. 5, 2011Charlotte Observer
- The President's Perspective: Our Judiciary – 2.46% of the State Budget: This Is a “Co-Equal” Branch of Government?May/June 2010North Carolina Lawyer, NCBA
- March/April 2010North Carolina Lawyer, NCBA
- The President’s Perspective: Judicial Performance Evaluation: Looking Ahead, With a Word of Appreciation for Our VolunteersJanuary/February 2010North Carolina Lawyer, NCBA
- November/December 2009North Carolina Lawyer, NCBA
- September/October 2009North Carolina Lawyer, NCBA
- July/August 2009North Carolina Lawyer, NCBA
- North Carolina Bar Association, Appellate Rules Committee, Chair, 2003-05; Committee for Judicial Independence, Co-chair, 2010-14
- Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism, 2014-present
- Chief Justice's Commission on the North Carolina Business Court, Appellate Process Committee, Chair, 2002-04
- American College of Trial Lawyers, North Carolina Chair, 2004-06
- Legal Aid of North Carolina and Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, Access to Justice Council, Chair, 2012-present
- Lynnwood Foundation, Board of Directors, 2007-present
- North Carolina Museum of History, Board of Directors, 2012-present
- Duke University School of Law, Board of Visitors, 2002-present
- University of North Carolina, Board of Visitors, 2004-08
- Mecklenburg County Bar, Board of Directors, 2006-09
- Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, Board of Directors, 1999-2005
- Arts & Science Council, Chair, 1988-89
- ArtsTeach, Inc., Chair, 2000-02