Ryal is an experienced litigator. He has handled a wide range of litigation cases in state and federal courts, many of them jury trials. Ryal has extensive construction law experience, including lien law, federal and state bond claims, and defective workmanship cases. He also has significant experience with agribusiness litigation, property owner association disputes, personal injury, and all types of real estate disputes, including title insurance claims, trespass, adverse possession, condemnation, easement rights, and wrongful timber cutting. Ryal has been rated by his peers as being "preeminent" in his fields of law.
- J.D., Wake Forest School of Law, 1982
- A.B., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1979
- Represented a 500+ member property owners' association over a defectively constructed marina against the developer and others involved in the construction, resulting in a settlement of just under $1 million
- Represented a property owners' association whose roads and sewer system were not completed by a bankrupt developer. The POA recovered a settlement in excess of $1.5 million from a development bond posted by the developer in favor of the County.
- Represented a property owner in the path of the Military Cutoff Extension in condemnation actions against the DOT resulting in settlements exceeding $10,000,000.00.
- Won Summary Judgment for the owner of a defunct golf course in a residential community against residents' claims that they had easement rights in the golf course preventing the golf course owner from the residential development of the golf course property.
- Represented a landlord in a dispute with its commercial tenant resulting in the collection in full of back rent in an amount in excess of $200,000
- Represented the owner of property adjoining a man-made harbor to establish the navigability of the harbor and the riparian rights of the property owner
Honors and Distinctions*
- "Lawyer of the Year," Best Lawyers in America, 2021
- The Best Lawyers in America, 2009-2021
- "Super Lawyer," North Carolina Super Lawyers, 2013-2021
Professional and Community Affiliations
- NCDRC, Certified Superior Court Mediator
- Clark James Foundation, President
- American Board of Trial Advocates
- North Carolina Bar Association — Sections: Construction Law; Litigation
- North Carolina Land Title Association
- Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association
Admitted to Practice
- North Carolina, 1982
- All state courts in North Carolina
- United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
- United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina
- United States Supreme Court
My motto is "All for one and one for all." I believe in a team approach to problem solving and the development of successful strategies. The best thing about Ward and Smith is that we allow our attorneys to play to their strengths and make sure our clients get to the best person for the job. The Firm demands high quality legal representation and responsiveness to client inquiries and goals.
I became a lawyer because I have always enjoyed analyzing and solving problems. I am innately curious and enjoy investigating the details of any case and getting to the bottom of an issue. One surprising thing that people do not know about me is that my great grandfather, Daniel Herndon Tuttle, sat for the bar and obtained his law license in 1880. However, he decided he could not practice law and practice his religion. He became a Methodist minister and "rode the circuit," serving all over eastern North Carolina.
I love living in Wilmington and plan to stay here; however, I love the food, language, and history of France and could see myself living there and traveling extensively around Europe. My wife would say that my favorite characters in fiction are those on Seinfeld because I will watch episodes that I have seen many times before. "The tradition of Festivus begins with the airing of grievances . . ." That one is must see TV.
* Please see the following websites for an explanation of the membership standards for the following recognitions: www.bestlawyers.com; businessnc.com/special-sections/legal-elite/; and www.superlawyers.com/north-carolina.
- Auto Accidents
- Eminent Domain
- Local Counsel
- Medical Malpractice
- Nursing Home Liability
- Other Accidents, Injuries + Wrongful Deaths
- Personal Injury and Wrongful Death
- Premises Liability
- Product Liability
- Truck + 18-Wheeler Accidents
- Water-Related + Other Transportation Accidents
Highlights + Insights
The Importance of Reviewing and Complying with Performance Bonds
Construction Conference Insights: How to Lower Legal Risk
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