James Sell - Partner


Northern California, CA: (628) 253-5070


Jim Sell is the Managing Partner of Tyson & Mendes’ Northern California office and leads a multi-attorney litigation team. Mr. Sell has practiced law in the Bay Area since his admission to the California Bar in 1988. He is a trial attorney with a long history of success in all types of jury trials. Mr. Sell has extensive experience in construction, professional liability, public works, premises liability, products liability, catastrophic injury, personal injury, and wrongful death. He also serves as “general counsel” to a number of Bay Area contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers in hundreds of construction matters and disputes.

Before joining Tyson & Mendes in 2016, Mr. Sell tried a case with Partners Bob Tyson and Mina Miserlis where the client rear-ended the plaintiff at a relatively low speed. Liability was admitted. Plaintiff claimed the impact rendered him brain damaged which prevented him from completing a smartphone app for Texas televangelist Joel Osteen. In closing argument, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury for $34,000,000. After six weeks, the jury awarded $26,775.

A year later, Mr. Sell teamed up with Bob Tyson to defeat one of the most well-known plaintiff’s attorneys in California. Plaintiff’s counsel sought $6,000,000 in this admitted liability, three-week jury trial in Napa, California. This included almost $2,000,000 in past and future medical expenses for back and neck surgeries the plaintiff underwent and allegedly would need in the future. The lowest settlement demand just before trial was $4,000,000. The jury returned a verdict of only $389,000, and found plaintiff 40% at fault. Most recently, Mr. Sell secured a full defense verdict in an airport shuttle case in which the injured plaintiff sought $22 million in damages following a five-week trial.

Additionally, he successfully represented a rock crushing contractor who sought its mobilization and demobilization costs as well as its extended overhead costs after the general contractor terminated the contract. The general contractor filed a counter-claim contending the contractor delayed the project. After a five-day arbitration, the contractor prevailed on the counter-claim and was awarded all of its contract damages, pre-judgment interest, attorneys’ fees, and costs.

Mr. Sell earned his B.A. in history from St. Mary’s College of California in 1985 and his J.D. from Golden Gate University in 1988 where he served on the trial advocacy team. He is a member of the California State Bar; 9th Circuit, Court of Appeals; U.S. District Courts – Northern, Southern, Central and Eastern Districts.

Mr. Sell serves as a Judge Pro Tem and Discovery Facilitator in the Marin County Superior Court and as an Arbitrator for California Office of Administrative Hearings, Public Works Disputes. He is Board of Director for the Marin County Bar Association and on the St. Mary’s College Rugby Alumni Board.

On the weekends, Mr. Sell attends his kids’ various sporting activities. On weekend evenings, he is found behind his Weber barbeque. When Mr. Sell is not advocating for his clients, he advocates for blood cancer treatments and cures riding his bike to raise funds through Team in Training. Mr. Sell has completed five 100-mile rides and one 200-mile ride while raising over $35,000 in the fight against blood cancers.


Recent Posts

Does Mac Williamson’s suit have a chance? “It’s like a law-school exam question.”

KNBR Studios – November 18, 2020

If it sounds tricky, well, “It’s like a law-school exam question,” said Jim Sell, a San Francisco managing partner for nationwide insurance/civil litigation defense firm Tyson & Mendes, and, full disclosure, a Giants fan. “Or a bar-exam question — there are a lot of issues here.”


Tyson & Mendes Expands in Northern California

Tyson & Mendes expands to Novato with purchase of new building. Click here to read more.

Jury Awards Full Defense Verdict in $22 Million Airport Shuttle Case: Tyson & Mendes Law Firm Successfully Defends Airline Coach Service, Inc.

SAN FRANCISCO (April 18, 2019) – Following a 5-week jury trial, a San Francisco County jury on April 18, 2019, found an airport shuttle service and one of its drivers not liable for injuries the plaintiff alleged he suffered while riding on an airport shuttle. Attorneys in Tyson & Mendes LLP’s Northern California office, Partner Jim Sell and Senior Counsel Brian Johnson, represented the two defendants and secured a full defense verdict in a case in which the injured plaintiff sought $22 million in damages. “We successfully framed this trial around responsibility,” Mr. Sell said. “By acknowledging and accepting our client’s responsibility for providing accessible safety features in our vehicles, we exposed plaintiff’s refusal to accept any of his own responsibility for his injuries.”

Tyson & Mendes Adds Bay Area’s James Sell as Fourth Equity Partner

SAN DIEGO (Feb. 28, 2019) – Tyson & Mendes LLP announced today that Partner James Sell has been named its fourth equity partner – joining Founding Partners Robert Tyson and Patrick Mendes as well as Mina Miserlis as stakeholders in the growing civil defense firm.

Your Release May Not Be as Broad as You Think

In Iqbal v Ziadeh (2017) 10 Cal.App.5th 1, plaintiff was hired by a used car lot, Yosemite Auto, to determine why a car recently towed to the lot would not start. Unbeknownst to plaintiff, the tow truck operator had disconnected the transmission shift linkage to do so. The tow truck operator then failed to reconnect the shift linkage after towing the car. Plaintiff confirmed the car was in “park” and crawled underneath it to determine…

New York High Court Declines to Extend Coverage to Additional Insured who was the Sole Cause of the Accident Giving Rise to the Claim

Requiring a subcontractor to name an owner and prime contractor as “additional insureds” under the subcontractor’s liability policy is a common method to transfer risk on a construction project. When a subcontractor comes onto a project, an owner and prime contractor are potentially exposed to liability risks for that subcontractor’s negligence and additional insured endorsements represent a way to apportion these risks. The…

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