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John W. Thornton

John W. Thornton

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Upcoming Events
General Biography
Practice Areas
Business Commercial
Class Action & Mass Tort
Employment Law
Environmental Law
Health Care
Personal Injury
Professional Liability
Real Property
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

John W. Thornton, Jr., Retired Judge 11th Judicial Circuit, joins JAMS after serving for more than 12 years in the civil, criminal and circuit court appellate divisions. Mr. Thornton headed the complex business litigation division for five years, including four years as the International Commercial Arbitration Division judge. He has presided over more than 100 jury trials. During his time on the bench, Mr. Thornton handled a range of complex matters involving commercial and contractual disputes, class actions, insurance, real estate, construction, health care, professional malpractice, personal injury and complex business law.

Before his appointment to the circuit court in 2007, Mr. Thornton was in private practice, where he was a founding partner of Thornton & Rothman, P.A., a Miami-based defense firm, where he represented individual and institutional clients, including the University of Miami and the Archdiocese of Miami. One of Florida’s first board-certified criminal trial lawyers, he tried to verdict more than 100 jury trials. Prior to establishing the firm, Mr. Thornton served as an assistant state attorney, including as a division chief, for the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.

In addition to his commitment to the practice of law, Mr. Thornton has dedicated himself to bar activities and pro bono causes, among them serving as chair of the Board of Directors of Camillus Health Concern, a private, nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive health and social services to homeless people in Miami-Dade County. He was a member of the Florida Bar Board of Governors for 10 years; president of the Florida Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of The Florida Bar; and president of the Miami Dade County Bar Association. He has participated in countless seminars and panels, and has taught in the University of Miami School of Law’s Litigation Skills programs for 28 years.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

Mr. Thornton presided over hundreds of hearings and trials involving a wide variety of issues, including the following:

  • Fraud allegations in breach of employment contract action, resulting in $20-million jury award
  • Breach of employment contract action alleging violation of noncompete clause and theft of trade secrets, resulting in injunctive relief
  • International Commercial Arbitration Division evidentiary hearings concerning whether matters filed in the division were to remain there or be ordered to arbitration pursuant to law and the terms of the contract entered into between the international parties
  • International Commercial Arbitration Division hearings concerning the enforcement of an arbitral award
  • Construction defect and breach of contract cases involving commercial properties and condominiums
  • Class action suit involving department of transportation’s failure to charge the appropriate party the proper toll for towed vehicles
  • Class action by all non-anchor tenants against mall owners and managers for violation of the deceptive and unfair trade practices act relating to the rental of properties to those tenants
  • Civil theft, breach of contract and deceptive and unfair trade practices action concerning the local purchase and shipment of trucks to a company in South America
  • Contract, defamation, deceptive and unfair trade practices, and RICO jury trial resulting in a $1-billion verdict in favor of plaintiff, a national homebuilder corporation, against defendant defaulted for deleting thousands of relevant documents and giving provably false testimony under oath on material issues
  • In a jury case concerning piercing the corporate veil, foreign national plaintiff was awarded $15 million in damages after failure to repay loan pursuant to a promissory note and fraudulent transfer by foreign national defendant
  • Foreclosure actions involving commercial and residential properties involving various additional causes of action, defenses and counter claims
  • Plaintiff’s suit alleging breach of the Florida Franchise Act, Business Opportunities Act, fraudulent inducement and negligent representation concerning a territorial licensing agreement
  • Medical doctors brought suit against their management company for breach of rights agreement, breach of management contract, conversion, civil theft and temporary and permanent injunctive relief

Representative Matters

  • Business Commercial
      • Breach of contract and indebtedness, civil forfeitures, commercial foreclosures, corporate and business governance, declaratory judgments, discovery disputes, fraud, factoring and financing, indemnification and contribution, injunctive relief, insurance claims, partnerships/joint ventures, premises liability, replevin, shareholder disputes, trade names and unfair/deceptive business practices
  • Class Action & Mass Tort
      • Class certification, constitutional challenges, economic loss rule, fairness hearings, Frye and Daubert hearings and motions in limine
  • Construction
      • Disputes involving construction of and damage to residential and commercial buildings
  • Employment Law
      • Breach of employment contracts, noncompete agreements and theft of trade secrets
  • Environmental Law
      • County ordinance and state statute enforcement, regulations and violations
  • Personal Injury
      • Serious personal injury and wrongful death actions, change of venue, Fabre issues, forum non conveniens, libel/slander, motor vehicle and water craft negligence, negligent security, premises liability, product liability, punitive damages, sexual abuse, slip and fall, treble damages, trust litigation and wrongful death actions
  • Professional Liability
      • Business, legal, and medical malpractice claims, and loss of license hearings
  • Real Property
      • Residential and commercial claims, leases, purchases and sales, commercial and residential mortgage foreclosures, commission claims, condemnation, condominium, deposit returns, homeowners’ associations, landlord-tenant disputes and land use

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS.

Memberships and Affiliations

  • President, Miami Dade County Bar Association (DCBA), 2005–2006
    • Officer and Member, Board of Directors, 1987–1990, 1998–2006
    • Chair, Bicentennial Committee, 1987–1988
  • Member, Florida Supreme Court Task Force on Judicial Branch Planning, 2004–2010
  • President, Florida Bar Foundation, 2006–2007
    • Officer, Board of Directors, 1998–2007
  • Member, Cuban American Bar Association (CABA), 1988–2022
  • Member, Florida Association for Women Lawyers (FAWL), 1988–2022
  • Board of Governors, The Florida Bar, 1988–1998
    • Executive Committee, 1994–1995, 1997–1998
    • Chair, Program Evaluation Committee, 1993–1994, 1997–1998
    • Chair, Rules Committee, 1994–1995
    • Chair, Disciplinary Procedures Committee, 1991–1993

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers as one of the Best Lawyers in America for Arbitration; 2022-2024
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers as one of the Best Lawyers in America for Mediation, 2023-2024
  • Hazel Nicholson Award, University of Miami School of Law Litigation Skills Program, 2019
  • Lex Christi, Lex Amoris Award, Miami Catholic Lawyers Guild, 2017
  • University of Miami Law Alumni Association’s Achievement Award, University of Miami, 2016
  • Alan R. Schwartz Judicial Excellence Award, DCBA, 2015
  • Ted Klein Award, FAWL, 2013
  • Judge Mario Goderich Legal Ethics Award, DBCA, 2013

Background and Education

  • Circuit Court Judge, Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, 2007–2020
    • Complex Business Litigation Division, 2013–2018
    • International Commercial Arbitration Division Judge, 2014–2018
    • Circuit Court Appellate Division Judge, 2007–2019
    • Civil Division, 2011–2020
    • Criminal Division, 2007–2011
  • Adjunct Professor, University of Miami School of Law, 1995–present
  • Thornton & Rothman, P.A., 1980–2007
    • Founding Partner, 1980–2007
  • Assistant State Attorney, Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, 1977–1980
  • Law Clerk to the Hon. James W. Kehoe, Circuit Court Judge, 1976–1977
  • J.D., University of Miami School of Law, 1977
    • Editorial Board, Lawyer of the Americas International Law Journal
    • Wig and Robe Honor Society Award of Merit
    • Iron Arrow Honor Society
  • B.A., University of Notre Dame, 1974


This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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