John C. Palmer IV
 Charleston, WV

Areas of Practice

Alternative Dispute Resolution, Litigation


  • J.D., West Virginia University, 1970
  • B.A., History, University of Delaware, 1967
  • Best Lawyers in America, 2012 – Present
  • West Virginia’s Top Lawyers, West Virginia State Journal, 2012
  • Outstanding Contribution Award, West Virginia Law Review

Bar & Court Admissions

Professional Affiliations

  • West Virginia Bar Association
  • Kanawha County Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Defense Trial Counsel of West Virginia (Board of Governors Member, 1981-1984; 1988-1993; Vice President, 1990-1991; President, 1991-1992
  • Life Member, West Virginia Bar Foundation
  • Of Counsel, Robinson & McElwee, 2021
  • Member, Robinson & McElwee, 1983-2020
  • Managing Partner of Personnel, Robinson & McElwee, 1983-1986
  • Chair, Litigation Department, Robinson & McElwee, 2001-2002
  • Partnership Chair, Robinson & McElwee, 1997-1998
  • Professional Responsibility Partner, Robinson & McElwee, 1992-2020
  • Partner, Love, Wise, Robinson & Woodroe, 1976-1983
  • Partner, James, Wise, Robinson & Magnuson, 1971-1975
  • Associate, Law Office of Andrew J. Goodwin, 1970-1971

Mr. Palmer is a trial lawyer with a practice focused exclusively on litigation, primarily involving complex cases and class actions.

With more than 50 years of experience, Mr. Palmer has tried numerous civil and criminal cases in federal and state courts and has argued appeals before the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Mr. Palmer is a fourth-generation lawyer and was one of seven founding partners of Robinson & McElwee in 1983.

During his tenure with Robinson & McElwee, Mr. Palmer has served as Managing Partner of Personnel, Litigation Department Chair, Partnership Chair and Professional Responsibility Partner.

Mr. Palmer has handed a wide variety of cases for both plaintiffs and defendants, including accidents, administrative proceedings and appeals, admiralty, anti-trust violations, asbestos exposure, assault and battery, catastrophic property damage, coal mining, commercial litigation, construction disputes, consumer claims, conversion, copyright infringement, defamation, eminent domain, environmental contamination, ERISA, false arrest and imprisonment, Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), fidelity bonds, industrial accidents, injunctions, insurance bad faith, insurance claims and disputes, interference with business relations, judgment enforcements, labor disputes, lender liability, libel, loan defaults, malicious prosecution, mechanic’s lien enforcement, medical malpractice, oil and gas matters, patent infringement, payment and performance bonds, personal injury, pollution claims, predatory lending, premises liability, products liability, railroad accidents, real property disputes, securities fraud, settlement enforcement, slander, toxic torts, warranty claims, workers’ compensation, workplace accidents, wrongful death, usury, white collar crimes and zoning disputes.

Mr. Palmer represents clients across many industries, including banking, construction, insurance, manufacturing, mining, retail trade, and utilities.  Additionally, Mr. Palmer has served as local counsel in West Virginia federal and state courts for law firms across the country.

  • Has represented clients in numerous class actions in federal and state courts in West Virginia since 1972.
  • Represented major bank in litigation involving predatory lending and loan default cases.
  • Defended major corporation in federal class action alleging state-wide toxic tort property damage claims.
  • Represented insurance companies in cases alleging “bad faith” and seeking extra-contractual damages.
  • Obtained dismissal of co-defendant in securities cases.
  • Obtained dismissal of legal malpractice claim against out-of-state attorney.
  • Successful representation of former owner of manufacturing plant in two premises liability trials.
  • Defended major corporation in state court cases with numerous plaintiffs who alleged wide spread toxic tort property damage claims.
  • Handled numerous disability insurance policy cases in federal courts under Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) for several insurance companies.
  • Defended numerous motor vehicle accident cases involving wrongful death and personal injury claims.
  • Defended numerous false arrest and malicious prosecution cases for major retailer.
  • Represented public utilities in condemnation proceedings.
  • Defended employers in a number of “deliberate intent” cases brought by injured workers or on behalf of their estates.
  • Involved in white collar criminal matters in federal courts.
  • Founding member of Robinson & McElwee.
  • Best Lawyers in America, Mass Tort Ligitation/Class Action – Defendants, 2012 – present
  • Best Lawyers in America, Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs, 2012 – 2017
  • Best Lawyers in America, Commercial Litigation, 2018
  • Defense Laywer of the Year, Defense Trial Counsel of West Virginia, 2018
  • The Uniform Commercial Code and Implied Warranties of Quality in Sales-Service Transactions, 71 W.Va. L. Rev. 213, 1969
  • Right of Action by Employer Against Tort-Feasor of Employee, 71 W.Va. L. Rev. 78, 1968
  • Presenter, Practical Tips for Deposing and Cross-Examining Expert Witnesses, Energy & Mineral Law Foundation Annual Institute, Washington, D.C., June 10, 2019
  • Presenter, I’ve Read the Complaint – Now What, Defense Trial Counsel of West Virginia, Charleston, W. Va., September 29, 2017
  • Presenter, Preparing Your Client for a Deposition, Charleston, W.Va., Sept. 16, 2011
  • Presenter, Avoiding the Pitfalls of the Poorly Prepared Witness and Other Tips for Surviving the Rule 20(b)(6)(7) Deposition, Beckley, W.Va., May 6, 2011
  • Presenter, Electronically Stored Information and E-Discovery, Charleston, W. Va., April 29, 2009
  • Presenter, Depositions: What Don’t You Know About the Procedural Aspects?, Charleston, W.Va., June 29, 2004
  • Presenter, Pretrials and Trials, Charleston, W.Va., Jan. 25, 2001
  • Presenter, Ethics of Cross-Examination, Impeaching the Witness, and Expert Witness, Charleston, W.Va., Dec. 13, 2000
  • Presenter, Toxic Tort Litigation, Charleston, W.Va., Jan. 22, 1998
  • Presenter, Economists and Other Experts, Beckley, W.Va., Aug. 2, 1996
  • Presenter, Environmental Criminal Investigations, Charleston, W.Va., Feb. 2, 1996
  • Presenter, Tort Reform, New Jersey Association of Defense Attorneys, Wintergreen, Va., June 17, 1995
  • Presenter, Direct Examination of Witnesses, Beckley, W.Va., June 2-4, 1995
  • Presenter, Cross-Examination, Beckley, W.Va., June 10-12, 1994
  • Presenter, Assisting in Discovery, Charleston, W.Va., Jan. 12, 1994
  • Presenter, Opening Statements and Closing Arguments, Beckley, W.Va., June 4-6, 1993
  • Race Director, Charleston Distance Run, 2012 – present
  • Member, Charleston Land Trust
  • Sports Committee Member, Charleston Convention and Visitors’ Bureau
  • West Virginia Games Committee Member
  • Mediation SWARM participant (volunteer mediator), Circuit Court of Kanawha County, W.Va.
  • Deacon, First Presbyterian Church, Charleston, W. Va.