Joel R. Rhine is a nationally recognized trial attorney who chooses to live in Wilmington, North Carolina. Mr. Rhine enjoys the best of both worlds: he leads the Rhine Law Firm, P.C.'s charge on a host of important North Carolina cases, while participating in large national cases (primarily class action and mass tort cases with an occasional massive single-event matter). Mr. Rhine has decades of experience in complex litigation and is one of the most recognized and respected trial attorneys in North Carolina.
Mr. Rhine is comfortable in the complex trial atmosphere, where his fee and the reimbursement of the firm's advanced expenses are fully dependent on a successful resolution. In many instances, his clients have no viable economic future if the case is lost. Often, the defense considers the case to be "bet the company" litigation and hires the top lawyers from the largest law firms to defend the case. These lawsuits are tough and expensive - often, the advanced costs are in the six- and seven-figure range. Of course, when the stakes are this high, the lawyers are sharp, skilled, and prepared. This is the setting for Mr. Rhine's contingency-fee caseload.
Mr. Rhine is constantly seeking challenges and thus the types of cases he works on are varied. This variety is exemplified by a sampling of his recent results and pending cases:
- Several seven-figure recoveries in a series of stairway and deck collapses in vacation rental homes in coastal North Carolina;
- $25 million plus settlement in a Pella Window Class Action in the North District of Illinois (Eubank, et al v. Pella Corporation and Pella Windows and Doors (United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, 06 C 44810));
- Co-lead counsel in the largest individual Chinese Drywall settlement, which was valued at over $24 million;
- Co-lead counsel in Finerman et al v. Marriott Ownership Resorts, Inc, and International Cruise & Excursion Gallery (United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, 3:14-cv-1154) which settled for over $16.5 million (including attorneys' fees);
- Lead counsel for three victims injured in the Florida International University Bridge Collapse in Miami (this matter is still pending);
- $3.1 million settlement that occurred during trial in a bus collision case occurring in Virginia;
- $9.0 million wrongful death judgment from a parasailing tragedy in North Carolina;
- $2.0 million recovery related to a motorcycle vs. truck accident in North Carolina;
- Significant confidential settlements for victims of the Oak Island Bridge Collapse over the ICWW in North Carolina;
- Member of the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee in the Benicar (Olmesartan) Products Liability Litigation in New Jersey.
Mr. Rhine's hard work has been recognized by his peers and many publications. Mr. Rhine has been recognized repeatedly as a Super Lawyer - Top 100 North Carolina Lawyers; Business North Carolina's Legal Elite; Best Lawyers; National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers; and has enjoyed an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell since 2002. The Rhine Law Firm, P.C., has repeatedly been named a "Tier 1 Best Firm" by U.S. News and World Reports.
- Mr. Rhine graduated from Wake Forest University Law School in 1988 as one of the only students ever to be published twice in the Law Review.
- After WFU, Mr. Rhine accepted a "big law" position with Hunton & Williams in their Raleigh office. His work at Hunton & Willams was dominated by two nuclear power plant construction cases, one in Dallas/Fort Worth and the other in Raleigh.
- In the early 1990s, Mr. Rhine moved to Wilmington and established a contingency fee construction, product liability, and personal injury practice.
- Mr. Rhine achieved his first eight-figure verdict in a federal jury trial at age 30.
- Mr. Rhine filed the first lawsuit in what became the multi-decade, multi-state synthetic stucco (EIFS) litigation, where he represented thousands of homeowners against a variety of constructions participants and manufacturers. When this mass tort litigation bogged down, Mr. Rhine began taking the cases to trial. The first trial ended in a settlement after six weeks of testimony. Later, Mr. Rhine obtained the nation's first verdict against an EIFS manufacturer. This multimillion-dollar verdict was a catalyst for a national EIFS settlement against this EIFS manufacturer.
- Mr. Rhine sought new challenges after the EIFS litigation, including class actions of many types, business dispute litigation, catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death cases, product liability actions, and data breach cases. He is regularly invited to participate in interesting, important, and complex litigation by attorneys who know his trial talents, integrity, and work ethic. He has been counsel, lead counsel, or a member of the plaintiff steering committee in dozens of class actions and national mass tort cases.
As a frequently requested speaker on legal topics for trial lawyers and judges, Mr. Rhine speaks at continuing education seminars on topics ranging from trial skills, class actions, ethics, and more. Mr. Rhine has presented on multiple occasions throughout the United States for, among others, Mass Torts Made Perfect, North Carolina Advocates of Justice, North Carolina Bar Association, Mealeys, Lorman, and the AEI-Brookings Joint Center Judicial Education Program.
Finally, and above all, Mr. Rhine is a devoted family man. He and Alice Rhine will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary in May 2020. Their son, Michael, graduated from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill and is an investment banker in Charlotte. Their daughter, Julia, is a student at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Areas of Practice
Local & National
- Wake Forest University School of Law, Winston Salem, North Carolina
- J.D. - 1988
- Honors: Scholastic Honors List
- Law Review: Wake Forest Law Review, 1986-1988, Award for Outstanding Student Publication
- University of Tampa, Tampa, Florida
- B.A. Cum Laude
- Outstanding Political Science Graduate Award (Highest G.P.A. in Major)
- Varsity Baseball Letterman