Senior Litigation Counsel
Bruce Bellingham joined the firm in 2001. He earned a Ph.D. in 1984 from the University of Pennsylvania, then he taught as an Assistant and Associate Professor of Sociology at Florida State University where he was awarded academic tenure. During leaves from F.S.U. he earned a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997. He received two graduation prizes: the Civil Trial Advocacy award and the M.E. Goldstein Memorial Prize in Labor Law. Before coming to SGR, he was an associate attorney at Kaufman Coren & Ress. He is admitted to practice in Florida, Pennsylvania, and New York state courts and is admitted to the federal courts in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, the Southern District of Florida, the Eleventh and Third Circuit Courts of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.
Formerly a tenured Associate Professor at Florida State University, Mr. Bellingham’s legal work is divided between commercial litigation with an emphasis on dispositive motions and appellate advocacy; copyright infringement work and representation of artists, arts organizations, and content creators; and business advice and contract work generally for small to medium sized firms and individuals. He has been elected a “Super Lawyer” by his peers in the field of intellectual property in the years 2015-2019.
With colleague Daniel Dugan, he represented a plaintiff in a business fraud case that resulted in a $2,132,525 verdict, the 15th highest award in Pennsylvania in 2017 according to the Legal Intelligencer Top Verdicts and Settlements.
Mr. Bellingham does much briefing in legal malpractice defense with colleague Michael McGirney in the SGRV Florida office. In a representative civil case a plaintiff whose counsel had a history of winning huge judgments in child molestation cases demanded a multi-million dollar settlement for her claim against a targeted “deep pocket” hotel charged with negligence in her alleged sexual assault outside the hotel by another student while they were on a group ski trip. Mr. Bellingham wrote a motion that resulted in summary judgment for the hotel client which was dismissed from the case. His most unexpected victory was a decision in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversing a “confessed judgment” (agreed to in advance as part of a loan agreement) against a borrower who admitted he had no excuse for doing nothing to challenge the judgment for two years despite a statute that required motions to open such judgments to be filed within 30 days. After losing in both the trial and intermediate appeals court, Mr. Bellingham finally won on an argument that if a judgment was “void” from the outset due to a fundamental defect it could be challenged at any time. That is still the law in Pennsylvania contrary to a national trend favoring finality. In another decision bucking the trend dispensing with “privity,” Mr. Bellingham briefed a Pennsylvania Supreme Court case holding that subsequent house buyers could not sue the firm’s builder client for breach of the implied warranty of habitability because they had not contracted with the builder.
Approximately 40% of Mr. Bellingham’s time is devoted to copyright litigation in which he represents several prominent Los Angeles area photographers bringing claims against content pirates located in New York. One case resulted in an important decision clarifying the rights of infringed artists who typically face with a barrage of rote defenses. Mr. Bellingham also represents copyright defendants and has frequently found viable defenses that plaintiff’s counsel did not recognize as many are unfamiliar with this complex area of law.
An active provider of pro bono legal services for the Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts organization, Mr. Bellingham was awarded the 2009 Volunteer of the Year award from the Arts and Business Council of Greater Philadelphia for his work. One of the most active volunteer arts attorneys in Philadelphia, his work in the first half of 2019 included representing the Philadelphia Peking Opera Society in cy pres litigation over funds from a dissolved non-profit (his client received an award) and representation of a muralist whose work was removed from a wall in violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act (the case settled). He has recently represented a prominent artist whose painting was held by a fine arts storage service which unlawfully asserted a lien on the work based on a consignment dealer’s failure to pay.
Mr. Bellingham regularly serves as an arbitrator for the Compulsory Arbitration Program of the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.
- Bruce Bellingham and Johan Kian, The U.S. Supreme Court’s “Stop the Clock” Supplemental Jurisdiction Tolling Decision Alters Pennsylvania and New Jersey Time Limits for Filing Cases Transferred from Federal to State Court, 89 Pa. B.A.Q. 147, 147–48 (2018).
- Lerner, Alan M., Augie Hermann, and Bruce Bellingham, Legal Interviewing: A Video Workshop, National Institute for Trial Advocacy, Notre Dame Law School, (1999; 2 videotapes; Text, 215pp.) ISBN 1-55681-580-8
- University of Pennsylvania Law School, J.D. 1997, M.H. Goldstein Memorial Prize (Labor Law); Wapner, Newman & Assocs. Award (Civil Trial Advocacy)
- University of Pennsylvania, Ph.D., 1984
- York University, M.A. 1980
- Trent University, B.A. 1974 (Hons.), T.H.B. Symons Medalist
- Commercial Litigation
- Copyright Litigation
- Advice to businesses, artists, and content creators
- Florida, 1998
- Pennsylvania, 1999
- New York, 2016