James M. Riley, Jr.


Jim is a Director at Coats Rose where he leads a team of litigators in the toxic tort and environmental practice group.  His practice is focused on toxic tort and environmental litigation, representing major manufacturers in various types of toxic tort litigation in Texas and across the country. He currently serves as the National Counsel for a chemical products manufacturer in benzene litigation; regional counsel for a major manufacturer in asbestos litigation; and as Texas counsel for several another clients in silica litigation. He also has significant experience in personal injury suits involving welding rods, mercury, isocyanates, trichlorethylene, coke, oil field fluids, mold, manganese, arsine gas, and hydrogen sulfide. He also represents clients in Superfund (CERCLA) litigation and environmental property damage claims including litigation involving perchlorethylene (dry-cleaning fluids) and the Brio toxic waste site in Harris County, Texas.

During his career, Jim has tried several toxic tort cases to a verdict including: an asbestos suit with a living mesothelioma plaintiff (2000), a benzene suit involving cancer claims (2004), and a traumatic brain injury suit (1995).

His team has experience in defending clients in all aspects of environmental law. Jim and his team keep up to date on the latest medical, epidemiological and scientific literature by annually attending Defense Research Institute seminars and other seminars dealing with asbestos, benzene and chemical exposures. Jim has hands-on experience in successfully deposing experts regarding work place exposure, industrial hygiene, epidemiology and medical issues as well as pollution and waste discharge issues.

Jim served the U.S. Marines 1971-1972, and upon graduation from law school, he practiced in all fields of law, trying cases in family, criminal, bankruptcy and contract law. He joined Coats Rose in 1985. During his tenure at Coats Rose, he has primarily practiced in the area of toxic tort and environmental litigation but also has tried insurance coverage as well as general liability personal injury cases, commercial cases, and international arbitrations.

  • J.D., 1977, South Texas College of Law
  • B.A., 1974, Bradley University
  • Texas, 1977
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western Districts of Texas
  • AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Named to the 2011-2018 Texas Super Lawyers lists
  • State Bar of Texas
  • Houston Bar Association
  • College of the State Bar of Texas
  • Co-Chairman for the Houston Bar Association’s Task Force on Alternative Dispute Resolution, 1993
  • Defense Research Institute (Industry wide Litigation & Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Committees)
  • Alternate Judge for the City of Hunters Creek Village, Texas, 1988-1998
  • Moderated Settlement Conference Certification Training, 1987
  • Dispute Resolution Training, 1993
  • Harris County Criminal Lawyers’ Association, 1978
  • Life Member in the National Registry of Who’s Who in America, 2001
  • Charter Member, Institute for Responsible Dispute Resolution, 2000
  • Pi Sigma Alpha; Political Science Honorary
  • Pi Kappa Alpha, President, 1973
  • Dean’s Honor List – South Texas College of Law, 1975
  • State Moot Court Team – South Texas College of Law, 1976
Representative Projects
  • Successfully represented a manufacturing defendant in a case involving a living mesothelioma plaintiff and obtained a verdict for the defendant.
  • One of the few lawyers in the nation who have tried a benzene cancer case to a verdict
  • Successfully represented a premise owner in case involving a brain injury
  • Successfully represented a major home builder in litigation involving allegations of flooding and water damage caused by new development in Harris County, Texas
  • Represented a major home builder in Superfund litigation regarding a toxic waste dump
  • Defended a physician in a three-month trial involving a liposuction case
  • Successful defense of international arbitration
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