“Whether it is a Fortune 500 company or a municipality, there are rules they must follow. If they make a representation a consumer relied upon, we simply ask they stand behind that representation. Nothing more, nothing less,” said Hunter Bryson, an associate class action attorney in the Raleigh office of Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips and Grossman.
Bryson, 31, grew up in Raleigh. His focus wasn’t on the law when he double majored in economics and political science at UNC. But, ultimately, he wanted to follow his father into the law. His father, Daniel K. Bryson was the “Bryson” in Whitfield Bryson & Mason, a firm that merged with two others in March 2020 to form Milberg. Currently, the firm has over 200 employees and office locations throughout the United States and Europe.
“My dad and I always had similar personalities,” Bryson said. “From a young age, I’d hear his work conversations and then we’d talk through what he had discussed. The law seemed like a good fit. He’s been such a good mentor to me.”
Father and son worked closely together on cases involving impact fees charged by North Carolina municipalities following the North Carolina Supreme Court’s ruling in Quality Built Homes, Inc. vs. Town of Carthage. In total, Bryson has been appointed class counsel in 12 class action settlements involving illegally charged impact fees that have helped thousands of class members. To date, they have helped secure over $45 million in settlement funds from municipalities ranging from Southport to Asheville.
“It has felt good fighting on their behalf to ensure municipalities properly use the money they have collected from them as we find that developers have no leverage with municipalities and must submit to their ever-changing demands,” Bryson said. “Municipalities, people assume, always do the right thing. We have found that is very much not the case. And the pollical polarization cities and towns have found themselves in have only ensured litigation continues for these issues rather than resolutions.”
Bryson said he prefers consumer class actions to individual personal injury cases. He is currently involved in a number of pending class actions against diet supplement manufacturers over products that claim to help with prostate issues, treat diabetes, or control glucose. The products make claims in violation of applicable FDA regulations.
He is also looking into the materials used to make clothing.
“We are looking for ‘forever chemicals’ more commonly known as PFAS chemicals. There is a huge line of litigation regarding these chemicals now,” said Bryson. “When companies do not follow the rules, it often leaves someone with a relatively small claim amount and without the resources to litigate their claim. We go to work every day to represent those who do not have the means to represent themselves.”
Bryson has also been involved in mislabeled pet food cases. To date, Bryson has settled two nationwide consumer class cases involving pet foods with alleged non-conforming grain and wheat ingredients. The settlements included label changes and cash refunds to the hundreds of thousands of purchasers.
Complex civil litigation is often considered to be like a marathon. And in that regard, Bryson is still trying to catch up to his father. They have run two marathons, and Dan won both.
Bryson said he has no plans to try to even the score, adding he is still an avid runner whose practice benefits from the experience.
“There’s something liberating about taking the time away to run,” said Bryson. “Those endorphins wash over you. It’s good to get a clean slate and think things out from the beginning. When you are outside, suddenly something hits you that maybe wouldn’t have hit you if you were sitting in the confines of your office.”