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James A. McGovern

Union Trust Building, Suite 700
501 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
(412) 803-1180
(412) 803-1188 - Fax

James devotes the majority of his practice to the defense of attorneys, accountants, brokers, broker-dealers, investment firms, insurance agents, real estate agents, architects, engineers and other professionals in professional negligence claims. He also counsels and represents clients with regard to regulatory matters with self-regulatory organizations and state securities and insurance commissions. He regularly represents clients in state and federal court proceedings and at Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration hearings and mediations throughout the country. James has defended several matters involving directors and officers liability, including claims for breach of fiduciary duties, negligence, misfeasance and shareholder derivative suits. He also has commercial litigation experience involving mergers and acquisitions, non-compete agreements, franchise agreements and contractual disputes. 

James has tried numerous cases to jury verdicts and arbitration panel awards and has successfully argued several cases in the appellate courts of Pennsylvania. 

Following law school, James served as a law clerk to The Honorable Robert I. Richter of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and subsequently lived and practiced in Virginia and the District of Columbia before returning to Pittsburgh.

James has been awarded an AV® Preeminent™ by Martindale-Hubbell, which identifies a lawyer with very high to preeminent legal ability, and is a reflection of his knowledge, experience, integrity and overall professional excellence.

Significant Representative Matters

  • Successfully defended an architectural firm in settlement of a multiple party case in which a university student housing building under construction caught fire due to cigarettes purportedly being disposed of in a construction trash chute and also due to alleged building code violations. The fire spread to an adjacent six-block city area, causing extensive property damage and the alleged death of a neighborhood resident.

  • Successfully defended an architect in the settlement of a multiple party claim involving the alleged improper design and construction of a wheelchair access ramp in a former warehouse building being converted to alternative usage. The plaintiff allegedly tripped and fell on the ramp causing quadriplegic injuries.

  • Successful on a motion to dismiss in a case asserting a breach of implied warranty of workmanship against an architect involving a construction project wherein the property on which the buildings designed by the architect had been previously undermined for coal.

  • Successful in obtaining a dismissal of an engineering malpractice claim due to Plaintiff's failure to file a certificate of merit. Prevailed against Plaintiff's argument that a certificate of merit was not necessary because the claim was based on a theory of negligent misrepresentation and not professional malpractice.

  • Successful on a motion to dismiss in a claim against an attorney for the alleged negligent drafting of a will wherein the decedent's two adult children received disproportionate distributions. (Affirmed on appeal.)

  • Successful in obtaining summary judgment in a case of first impression in favor of an insurance agent in a case involving alleged improprieties regarding uninsured/underinsured motorists' waiver forms.

  • Successful in obtaining summary judgment in favor of a county mental health agency in a case involving an involuntary psychiatric commitment of a hospital patient who threatened to mutilate herself if she was not given the medical treatment of her choice. (Affirmed on appeal.)

  • Successful in obtaining a dismissal in a case of first impression against an investment professional in a civil action brought under the Pennsylvania Identity Theft Statute involving allegations of forged and unauthorized annuity withdrawals by the annuitant's daughter.

  • Successful in obtaining a jury verdict in a products liability claim brought against the manufacturer of a forging hammer whose operator lost a finger while misusing the hammer.

  • Successful in obtaining a judgment notwithstanding the jury verdict in favor of a county in a civil rights claim brought by a tax assessment advisor who represented clients in tax assessment hearings conducted by the county commissioners.

  • Successful in obtaining numerous arbitration awards in favor of brokers and brokerage firms accused of negligent investment advice.

  • Successful in obtaining summary judgment in a case of first impression in a claim brought against a pesticide applicator pursuant to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. (Affirmed on appeal.)

  • Successful in obtaining summary judgment in a case against a brokerage firm in which it was alleged that over 30 plaintiffs were sold worthless promissory notes by a former registered representative of the firm. (Affirmed on appeal.)

Published Works

  • "Pennsylvania Imposes Additional Requirements on Insurance Agents and Companies Regarding the Sale or Replacement of Annuities," Legal Updates for Insurance Agents & Brokers, September 24, 2018




  • The George Washington University Law School, Washington, DC (J.D., 1990)

  • University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA (B.S., 1987)

    Honors: magna cum laude
    Major:  Business

Law Alerts September 24, 2018
Edited by Timothy G. Ventura, Esq. Pennsylvania Imposes Additional Requirements on Insurance Agents and Companies Regarding the Sale or Replacement of Annuities   By James A. McGovern, Esquire On June 28, 2018, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf..., The material in this law alert has been prepared for our readers by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin. It is solely intended to provide information on recent legal developments, and is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific...
Law Alerts March 20, 2015
Recent Litigation Victories In a recent FINRA arbitration, Stanley Abel v. Janney Montgomery Scott, FINRA Arbitration No. 14-00018, Sam Cohen (Philadelphia, PA) obtained a directed verdict on behalf of his clients, Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, and..., The material in this law alert has been prepared for our readers by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin. It is solely intended to provide information on recent legal developments, and is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific...
Jul 25, 2019
We were successful in having a land surveyor dismissed on preliminary objections on the grounds of lack of privity with the plaintiff. ​The litigation involved a property line dispute between two neighbors. The neighbor who retained our client to...
Apr 11, 2019
The defense prevailed in an arbitration proceeding on behalf of an engineering firm that had designed a 30-foot-high segmented retaining wall at a craft brewery in Pittsburgh. During construction, the supplier of the blocks used to construct the...
Aug 24, 2018
We successfully represented an insurance agent in an investigation conducted by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. The agent’s clients filed a complaint in which they alleged the agent failed to advise them of a waiver of premiums rider on...
Dec 1, 2017
Obtained summary judgment in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania on behalf of a life insurance agent in a fraud and negligence action. Our client was alleged to have forged certain policy documents in an effort to "churn" the existing policies...
Aug 30, 2017
Received a defense decision in a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) binding arbitration proceeding conducted in Pittsburgh. ​The 78-year-old investor sued her financial advisor for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty,...
Dec 6, 2016
We achieved voluntary dismissal upon preliminary objections in a commercial litigation case. The plaintiff, a towing company located in Western Pennsylvania, towed a vehicle at the request of the Pennsylvania State Police after a single vehicle...
Aug 25, 2016
In this non-profit agency directors and officers liability case, our client, a non-profit environmental protection association, was dismissed with prejudice on preliminary objections in the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, Pennsylvania. The...
Sep 21, 2015
Successfully represented an investment professional before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). In a matter venued in Chicago, the defense succeeded on a motion to dismiss based upon FINRA's six-year eligibility rule. ...


  • The George Washington University Law School (J.D., 1990)
  • University of Pittsburgh (B.S., magna cum laude, 1987)

Bar Admissions

  • Pennsylvania, 1990
  • Virginia, 1990
  • District of Columbia, 1992
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 2002

Associations & Memberships

  • Allegheny County Bar Association
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association
  • Professional Liability Defense Federation

Honors & Awards

Year Joined Organization: 2000

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