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Stuart M. Paynter

Stuart Paynter is an experienced trial attorney specializing in catastrophic personal injury cases, products liability and other complex litigation. Mr. Paynter began his career at one of the nations most prestigious law firms Sullivan & Cromwell before starting in own law firm in 2005. Under his leadership, Paynter Law has obtained over $500 million in verdicts and settlements, including one of the largest verdicts of 2018 in a medical malpractice case. Mr. Paynter believes every client deserves their day in court and fights to make it happen. During the course of his career, Mr. Paynter has taken on and won against Fortune 500 companies and other large institutions--including groundbreaking litigation against the NCAA that resulted in a $60 million settlement for student athletes.
Stuart M. Paynter
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Stuart Paynter

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Prior to starting Paynter Law, Mr. Paynter worked at Sullivan & Cromwell where he represented Microsoft in the antitrust suit brought by the Department of Justice and several state attorneys general, as well as in numerous consumer class actions brought in federal and state courts around the country. Directly after graduating from law school, Mr. Paynter clerked for the Hon. David S. Tatel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia where his work focused on complex administrative law issues of national importance.

Mr. Paynter has undertaken extensive pro bono work. While at Sullivan & Cromwell, Mr. Paynter represented a class of Portsmouth, Virginia residents who alleged racial discrimination by the City of Portsmouth and a private developer. That case settled on favorable terms to class members.

Currently, Mr. Paynter represents a coalition of individuals and nonprofit organizations, including the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP in a series of civil rights lawsuits seeking the removal or relocation of Confederate monuments placed in front of courthouses in several North Carolina counties.

$60 million settlement

As one of the Court-appointed lead counsel, Mr. Paynter achieved a $60 million settlement on behalf of student athletes whose names and likenesses had been used in videogames produced by Electronic Arts. $20 million of that amount was paid directly by the NCAA representing one of the first, if not the first, time that the NCAA has ever paid a student athlete for the use of his or her name, image, or likeness.

$383.5 million jury verdict

Mr. Paynter was co-lead trial counsel in three consolidated wrongful death cases against DaVita, Inc. alleging fraud and improper administration of dialysis. The jury verdict included over $300 million in punitive damages.

$21.5 million confidential settlement

Working with Virginia barred co-counsel, Mr. Paynter achieved a $21.5 million settlement in a trade secret case. The client, a small software company, had alleged that a large Fortune 500 company had stolen its software. Mr. Paynter replaced a well-respected D.C. firm that had been handling the case on an hourly basis. The settlement result was approximately 20 times what the defendant had previously been willing to pay and nearly double the last demand of prior counsel.

Publications & Presentations

  • What a Tangled Family Tree We Weave: Trademarks, publicity rights, and the cross-pollination of First Amendment defenses through video games. Co-authored with Celeste H.G. Boyd. Journal of Int’l Media & Entertainment Law, Vol. 4, No. 1 (2011-2012).
  • “Lithium-Ion Battery Litigation”. Live Webinar. (December 2018).
  • “Right of Publicity for Athletes & Entertainers”, New York City Bar Association’s Trademarks & Unfair Competition Committee Program (Speaker, June 2016).
  • “Right of Publicity for Athletes & Entertainers”, New York City Bar Association’s Trademarks & Unfair Competition Committee Program (Speaker, June 2016).
  • Panelist, Sports & Entertainment Law Society’s Annual Symposium – American University Washington School of Law (March 2019).
  • “Protecting Your Client’s Likeness”, University of Virginia School of Law’s Sports & Entertainment Law Symposium (Panel Presenter, February 2014).
  • 7 Punitive Damages Strategies. Co-authored with Celeste H.G. Boyd and Robert B. Carey. Trial (April 2019).


  • Stanford University, J.D.
  • Cornell University, B.A., History

Admitted to Practice


  • North Carolina
  • California
  • District of Columbia


  • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • First Circuit Court of Appeals
  • D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of North Carolina
  • U.S. District Court, Middle District of North Carolina


  • North Carolina Advocates for Justice
  • North Carolina Bar Association


  • 2020 Washington DC Super Lawyers
  • 2019 Washington DC Super Lawyers
  • 2018 Washington DC Super Lawyers
  • 2017 Washington DC Super Lawyers
  • 2016 Washington DC Rising Stars
  • 2015 Washington DC Rising Stars
  • 2014 Washington DC Rising Stars
  • 2013 Washington DC Rising Stars