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Russell Jessee is the leader of the firm’s Business Litigation Practice Group.  His practice focuses on resolving disputes for business clients.

Mr. Jessee litigates contract disputes for clients in the banking, insurance, healthcare, and gaming industries, among others.  He defends creditors and debt servicers in consumer credit litigation.  He defends businesses in cases involving unfair trade practices, antitrust violations, business fraud, and other business torts.  Most recently, he has been part of the national defense team representing a large pharmaceutical distributor defending lawsuits by state and county officials and agencies making claims about opioid distribution.  

Mr. Jessee represents businesses in disputes before regulatory agencies.  He pursues commercial debtors for commercial creditors, and he pursues medical providers who fraudulently submit claims to health insurers.  Mr. Jessee also defends businesses in difficult employment cases, particularly those involving trade secrets and employment contract issues.

Mr. Jessee also has significant experience defending class actions.  His practice extends to reviewing contracts during negotiations to increase protections for his clients and to help decrease litigation risk down the road.  Before becoming an attorney, Mr. Jessee was managing editor of The Pocahontas Times, in Marlinton, West Virginia.  


Click here to read: I Said, “Stop!” … Or At Least I Thought I Did: Borrower Complaint Letters That Trigger A Duty To Respond, WV Bankers Magazine, Pub. 13 2022 Issue 2

Memberships & Awards

The Best Lawyers in America®, Commercial Litigation (2013-Present), Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants (2021-Present)
Super Lawyers®
Defense Research Institute
Judge John A. Field, Jr., American Inn of Court
Accredited Fraud Investigator, University of Charleston, 2009
Graduated summa cum laude and Order of the Coif, Washington and Lee University School of Law, 1999
Lead Articles Editor, Washington and Lee Law Review, 1998-1999
Graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, Virginia Tech 1988

Key Experience

Represents employers and insurers in federal ERISA and state court litigation defending lawsuits over employee benefits, including obtaining ERISA preemption dismissal of state law claims of wrongful denial of disability benefits against employer hospital
Obtained summary judgment for commercial real estate purchaser to specifically enforce seller’s contractual obligation to bring utilities to the site at its sole cost and expense before closing, despite seller’s post-contracting discovery that utilities cost would be large relative to sale price; summary judgment award also included client’s legal expenses under a contractual fee-shifting provision
Co-lead counsel defending large pharmaceutical distributor in more than 3,000 opioid lawsuits in state and federal courts nationwide; responsibilities include developing arguments for and implementing removal of state court suits to federal court

Work Experience

2005 Steptoe & Johnson PLLC
1999-2005 Covington & Burling, Washington, D.C.

Speaking Engagements

Co-author "I Said, 'Stop!' … Or At Least I Thought I Did: Borrower Complaint Letters That Trigger A Duty To Respond," WV Bankers Magazine, Summer 2022

Co-author "Avoiding CCPA Debt Collection Traps – A Periodic Reminder," WV Bankers Magazine, Winter 2020

"e-Discovery Tools and Strategies," 2010 Mountaineer CLE Series, WVU College of Law (September 2010)

"The Taxman Cometh: An Examination of Recent West Virginia Tax Appeal Decisions," Defense Trial Counsel of West Virginia Annual Meeting Notebook (June 2009)

Recent "Antitrust Decisions Affecting West Virginia," Defense Trial Counsel of West Virginia Annual Meeting Notebook (May 2008)

"Bank Customer Privacy Rights - What Can You Do When Something Seems Wrong?" West Virginia Banker Magazine (Summer 2007)

"Protecting the Employment Rights of Those Who Serve: A Case Law Update on USERRA," Lead Article, The Job Description, Defense Research Institute (Spring 2006)

Note, "Pleading to Stay in State Court: Forum Control, Federal Removal Jurisdiction, and the Amount in Controversy Requirement," 56 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 651 (1999)