Charles J. Messina is a Partner and Co-Chair of the Franchise & Distribution, Agriculture and Cannabis Industry Law Groups and also specializes in Complex Commercial Litigation, Employment Law & Litigation, Class Action Defense, Insurance Law, Intellectual Property and Construction Law & Litigation law. Accomplished in many aspects of litigation, Mr. Messina has substantial experience handling complex contract and commercial disputes, trademark and franchise issues, insurance and employment defense matters, and professional liability, TCPA and shareholder derivative actions.

Mr. Messina also regularly advises businesses and their executives on a wide range of transactional and employee issues as well as investors, processors, distributors, retailers and cultivators on various aspects of the evolving legal cannabis and hemp industries. He is experienced at the trial and arbitration levels including AAA arbitration and other forums for alternative dispute resolution.

During Mr. Messina's tenure at the Firm, he worked in-house part time at a Fortune 500 insurance company, helping that company’s Global Management Liability Insurance team with litigation claims and coverage issues.

He also now serves as an adjunct law school professor, teaching one of the region’s first cannabis law courses.

Prior to joining the Firm, Mr. Messina clerked for the Honorable Deanne M. Wilson in the Superior Court of New Jersey. He then worked as a litigation associate at a national, well-respected firm where he gained extensive experience handling complex commercial, employment, class action, insurance defense and franchise law matters.


Complex Commercial Litigation, Privacy & Cybersecurity, Employment Law & Litigation, Alcohol & Regulated Products Law, Cannabis Law, Construction Law & Litigation, Insurance Law, Franchise Law


Alcohol, Food & Beverage, Cannabis, Construction & Engineering, Agriculture, Franchise & Distribution

For a description of the selection process methodology for each of the publications and organizations which have included Genova Burns LLC in their rankings or awards, please click here.

  • Successfully litigated complex commercial, employment litigation and professional liability matters in state and federal district courts in New York and New Jersey.
  • Represented national franchisors, securing numerous injunctions and judgments on their behalf, including a significant victory in connection with a franchisor’s trademark infringement and breach of contract claims against a New York franchisee who was subsequently indicted for masterminding a $50 million mortgage fraud scheme.
  • Regularly counsel both franchisors and franchisees on a wide spectrum of legal issues in the hotel, restaurant, local news, automotive, elderly care, and solar industries.
  • Defended an accounting firm from inception until trial in a professional malpractice action where plaintiffs alleged millions of dollars in damages, ultimately securing a dismissal with prejudice for the client.
  • Negotiated sizable contracts on behalf of professional athletes and their sports agents, including litigation counseling and defense in connection with a $20 million NBA agent dispute.
  • Obtained numerous dismissals with prejudice of lawsuits filed against hotels and car dealerships in New Jersey and New York by plaintiffs alleging claims ranging from discrimination to misrepresentation and fraud, including verdicts on behalf of reputable car dealerships following days of hearings and testimony in AAA proceedings involving alleged violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.
  • Obtained dismissal with prejudice of a gender and sexual orientation wrongful termination lawsuit filed by a plaintiff in New Jersey State Court against a national bus company and the company's managers.
  • Regularly counsel clients on interpreting a wide range of evolving federal, state and local laws impacting the hemp and cannabis industries, including successfully assisting clients in multiple medical and adult-use cannabis licensing rounds.
  • Assisted a famous professional athlete and his management team launch a successful CBD company.
  • Overcame summary judgment as to liability on a Labor Law 240 lawsuit filed against a reputable solar company in New York State Court involving a worker in his 30s suffering significant injuries, and settled the case for under half a million dollars on the day of trial after rejecting a $5 million demand in open court earlier that day.
  • Successfully vacated a six-figure judgment entered against a general contractor on a motion for reconsideration for alleged violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.
  • Secured a lucrative settlement on the day of trial in Monmouth County Chancery Division, New Jersey, on behalf of a plaintiff involved in a complex construction dispute.
  • Obtained dismissal of a high profile trademark lawsuit filed in California by our client's competitor, and convinced the U.S District Court of New Jersey to reconsider its order dismissing our client's companion lawsuit.
  • Secured a noteworthy dismissal and summary judgment award with national implications after four years of litigation and several Appellate Division successes on behalf of a client, defending plaintiffs’ claims that a County's contractual arrangement for housing over 1,000 inmates at certain facilities constituted an unlawful privatization of county jail operations.
  • Assisted client in obtaining a dismissal of a high-profile politician’s emergent complaint just before a municipal election.
  • Obtained a significant PACA judgement against several produce dealers in the Northern District of Illinois on behalf of one of the largest agricultural produce suppliers in the tri-state area.
  • Successfully handled and resolved substantial security breach and other related data privacy issues.
  • Represented clients in commercial arbitration disputes and administrative hearings in New York and New Jersey, including securing a significant victory overturning a contract award made by an independent state agency.
  • NJBIZ - Forty Under 40: 2022
  • New Jersey Super Lawyers®: 2023
  • Recognized each year since 2012 in New Jersey Monthly Magazine and Super Lawyers® in the New Jersey Rising Star List, a distinction given to no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in any state.
  • Morris | Essex Health & Life Magazine: Essex County's Top Lawyers, 2022 - 2023
  • InsiderNJ - Insider 100: Millennial Power List 2022
  • Selected as a New Leader of the Bar by the New Jersey Law Journal, 50 Under 40 Award, 2015

 * No aspect of these advertisements have been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. See Awards/Honors Methodology.