"An enviable reputation for defending high-profile
class actions and product liability cases."
Seven Certified Class Action Trials. Scores of Happy Clients. Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell's class action defense group has handled hundreds of class actions in state and federal courts in at least 33 states. WTO lawyers have defeated certification more than 175 times and won motions to dismiss or for summary judgment in dozens more cases. We have also successfully decertified classes after being brought in to rehabilitate class actions gone astray.
In 2022, Chambers USA ranked WTO among the Top 14 firms in the U.S. for class action defense. Representative clients include Aimco, BP, CenturyLink, Electrolux, Ford, GE, Michelin, Toyota, Volvo, Whirlpool, and Yahoo!
As the diversity of our clients suggests, we have extensive experience handling complex class actions involving a wide variety of substantive areas of law, including consumer fraud, product liability, antitrust, insurance, traumatic brain injury, employment, energy and natural resources, securities, and telecommunications.
- Defeated class certification and won summary judgment a month before trial in a nine-figure, 80,000 member class action brought against a major insurer in Washington. The plaintiffs claimed WTO's client violated an insurance regulation governing how insurers must value total loss vehicles.
- Defeated certification of two putative classes of almost 30,000 California claimants alleging that WTO's client was a joint employer and liable for a number of California wage and hour law violations as well as for benefits.
- Defeated certification of a putative class of California claimants alleging WTO's client was a joint employer, seeking compensation for purported "off-the-clock" work. The California state trial court judge agreed with WTO's arguments that the plaintiff's "common" evidence did not show joint employment under California law.
- Successfully negotiated a nuisance value settlement in a putative class action for overtime wages in federal court in Illinois, before WTO's client had to incur any substantial fees or costs in discovery or for significant briefing.
- Defeated certification of a putative class of 20,000 California claimants alleging that WTO's client was a "joint employer" and was liable for unpaid overtime and other wage-and-hour violations.
- Defeated an attempt by plaintiffs to convert an FLSA collective action into a hybrid collective/class action through the late addition of state-law class claims.
- Successfully negotiated a class settlement—for 2.5% of the claimed damages—for a major utility provider and its subsidiary in a 15-year-old putative antitrust class action in Colorado federal court.
- Won summary judgment for an international shipping company in a putative joint employment class action in federal court in Colorado.
- Won final approval of class settlement and vacatur of a $15 million attorneys' fee award from the Ninth Circuit in a consumer class action for Whirlpool.
- Won voluntary dismissal of putative class action claims for one of the nation's largest health and wellness franchisors. The plaintiff claimed our client and the franchisee refused to refund her massage spa membership.
- Representing a major North American resort owner and operator in multiple consumer class actions seeking refunds following the company's closure of its ski resorts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Elward et al. v. Electrolux Home Products, Inc. (N.D. Ill. 2020) - Defeated class certification for Electrolux in a consolidated putative class action in Illinois involving millions of the company's dishwashers.
- Represent a major automotive supplier in consumer class actions involving alleged failure to adhere to safety requirements.
- Dzielak v. Whirlpool (D.N.J. 2019) - Won summary judgment against a certified, seven-state class action alleging false labeling and breach of warranty.
- Won Montana Supreme Court victory for a health system in a putative consumer class action that challenged its policy of issuing refunds in the form of pre-paid debit cards. The victory affirmed WTO's prior summary judgment win and defeated the plaintiff's new claims on appeal.
- Achieved favorable resolution after winning dismissal of 19 of 25 claims in a proposed class action alleging false advertising of the horsepower output of Whirlpool's KitchenAid blenders.
- Schechner v. Whirlpool Corp., 2:16-cv-12409 (E.D. Mich. 2020) - Defeated class certification in a bellwether case alleging false advertising of innovative self-cleaning ovens. The plaintiffs sought certification of a six-state class in the lead case and filed related actions for consumers in many other states. The court's certification ruling paved the way for a non-class settlement and dismissal of all actions less than a month before the first trial.
- Served as lead counsel to a health system to defend against a putative consumer class action in Montana challenging medical records charges.
- Representing a major telecommunications company in an MDL involving 18 underlying consumer, securities, and derivative class actions that challenge the company's marketing and sales practices.
- Won dismissal with prejudice in a putative wage-and-hour class action in Kentucky. After defeating the plaintiff's attempt to obtain nationwide discovery against WTO's client, WTO then filed a summary judgment motion on the plaintiff's claims. Rather than opposing the motion, the plaintiff agreed to dismiss his claims with prejudice.
- Serving as lead counsel to a health system to defend against a putative consumer class action in Montana challenging medical records charges.
- Beltran v. Noonan et al. (D. Colo. 2019) - Successfully represented multiple defendants in a $2.1 billion federal antitrust and labor class action challenging the au pair exchange program administered by the Department of State. After four years of litigation, and just two months before trial, WTO helped to negotiate settlement for the defense group, resulting in defendants paying only 3% of the demand.
- Successfully defended a telecommunications company in a state and federal putative class action in Washington arising out of an alleged data breach.
- Snyder v. ACORD, 2019 WL 319407 & 2016 WL 192270 (D. Colo.) - Represented seven codefendants in a property insurance class action lawsuit in Colorado. Plaintiffs claimed they were systematically underinsured in a "monumental" conspiracy, in violation of federal RICO and antitrust laws, and involving virtually all property insurers in Colorado as well as industry trade groups. WTO served as liaison counsel and argued the successful motion for the fee award of more than $1.5 million.
- Webb v. Volvo Cars (E.D. Penn. 2018) - Obtained dismissal of a putative class action lawsuit against Volvo involving alleged misrepresentation and false labeling related to safety features.
- Yatooma v. OP Property Management et al. (C.D. Cal. 2017) - Won a motion to dismiss with prejudice a putative class action in federal court in California. The plaintiff alleged violations of the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and California's Rosenthal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act.
- In re Sears, Roebuck & Co. Front-Loading Washer Products Liability Litigation (7th. Cir. 2017) - Won unanimous Seventh Circuit victory in a fee dispute for Whirlpool and Sears arising out of a certified federal class action lawsuit that WTO favorably settled after winning a defense verdict in the bellwether trial of related claims.
- Allen v. USAA (D. Colo. 2017) - Obtained summary judgment for USAA against a putative class action alleging that USAA's time limitation on Med-Pay benefits violated Colorado law and that USAA failed to disclose the time limitation.
- Kljajic et al. v. Whirlpool (N.D. Ill. 2017) - Defeated class certification amid allegations that 2,000,000 Whirlpool-made ovens were prone to overheat. WTO attorneys disqualified the plaintiffs' expert witness and successfully argued that the claims were overly broad and the plaintiffs' purported theories for failure were too many to achieve certification.
- Byorth et al. v. USAA, 2016 MT 32 - Won Montana Supreme Court reversal of class certification against USAA in bad faith litigation and remand to the district court for further proceedings.
- Successfully represented a Fortune 20 company in class action and insurance litigation arising from a six-alarm warehouse fire in 2015, resulting in WTO's client paying just 1% of claims—and subsequently recovering that amount through affirmative claims against other parties and their insurers.
- Rehberger et al. v. Yahoo! (S.D. Ill. 2016) - Successfully resolved a putative class action against Yahoo! involving alleged violations of the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute.
- Obtained dismissal of two putative class action lawsuits for Yahoo! in Ohio state court alleging that daily fantasy sports contests on the website amounted to illegal gambling.
- Neale v. Volvo Cars of North America, LLC, No. 14-1540 (3rd Cir. 2015) - Won a precedential, Third Circuit opinion for Volvo that vacated a district court's order to certify classes in six states to pursue claims that the sunroof drains in all Volvo models manufactured from 2003 to the present are defective. The circuit court remanded the case with instructions to "rigorously analyze predominance in the first instance."
- Terrill v. Electrolux (11th Cir. 2015) - Authored an amicus brief for interested parties including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers to highlight issues involving the dangers of certifying classes of predominantly uninjured consumers.
- Nguyen v. USAA CIC (D. Colo. 2015) - Defeated putative class claims for bad faith and consumer protection act claims related to time limits for medical payments coverage.
- Belmont v. BP America Production (D. Wyo. 2015) - Defeated class certification for BP in a natural gas royalties underpayment case heard in federal court in Wyoming.
- Represented a major REIT in class action arbitration initiated to recover damages related to a natural disaster.
- Glazer v. Whirlpool (N.D. Ohio 2014) - Won a complete defense jury verdict for Whirlpool as co-trial counsel in a $66 million certified class action trial in Ohio involving allegedly "moldy" washing machines.
- Represented the patent holder of an antidepressant in a multistate class action raising antitrust and consumer protection claims.
- Served as lead class action defense counsel for BP America Production Company in six class actions, including two jury trials to verdict against certified classes of royalty claimants.
- Brown v. Whirlpool (N.D. Ohio 2014) - Obtained dismissal of class action allegations and 15 of 17 claims against Whirlpool in an environmental toxic tort case. Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their remaining claims after the court's ruling.
- Successfully negotiated a class settlement for Pilot Flying J as national resolution counsel in diesel rebate litigation.
- Represented a major commercial insurer in nationwide concussion and traumatic brain injury class action litigation involving the National Collegiate Athletic Association, National Hockey League, and U.S. Soccer Federation.
- Represent Electrolux, a global leader in household and commercial appliances, in certain consumer class actions nationwide and in product liability matters filed in Colorado.
- Defeated class certification for Nash Finch (now SpartanNash), a Fortune 500 food distribution company, in claims involving common law fraud, civil theft, and violations of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act stemming from complaints about a specific pricing program in various grocery stores. WTO then obtained summary judgment against the 55 named plaintiffs.
- Tietsworth v. Sears (N.D. Cal. 2013) - Defeated a motion to certify a nationwide breach of warranty class in a case alleging that certain Kenmore washing machines contained defective electronic control boards that caused the machines to malfunction.
- Savett v. Whirlpool (N.D. Ohio 2012) - Secured dismissal with prejudice of a putative nationwide class action complaint alleging that certain Whirlpool washing machines were "mislabeled" with the Energy Star logo.
- Won a reversal from the Tenth Circuit in favor of BP in a case alleging underpayment of royalties.
- Apodaca v. Allstate Insurance (Colo. June 20, 2011) - Won a Colorado Supreme Court decision favorable to WTO's client, Allstate, and all Colorado auto insurers in a purported class action involving disclosures associated with underinsured and uninsured motorist policies.
- In re Ford Explorer Cases (Cal. Sacramento Cnty. Super. Ct. 2007) - Defended Ford Motor Co. in a four-month certified class action trial involving $2 billion in consumer fraud claims. On the day set for closing arguments, the plaintiffs agreed to a no-cash, coupon-based settlement for the California class and classes in three other states with pending parallel actions.
- Dennis v. Whirlpool (S.D. Fla. 2007) - Obtained dismissal with prejudice of plaintiffs' class action allegations in a putative nationwide class action alleging that more than one million of Whirlpool's refrigerators were defective.
- Successfully defended a Colorado software company in a securities class action in which the client asked WTO to replace an international law firm as lead trial counsel 90 days before trial.
- Successfully defended a large Colorado automobile dealer in a consumer class action in which the plaintiffs alleged violations of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act and sought hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. The trial court denied class certification, and the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed that order on appeal, and the Colorado and U.S. Supreme Courts denied certiorari.
- Vastano et al. v. AT&T Wireless - Defended AT&T Wireless in a nationwide class action in Colorado state court involving the billing of wireless air time.
- Estrada v. Nissan - Defeated class status and a recall attempt against Nissan in a putative class action involving airbags.
- Represented Ford Motor Co. in a 10-month, nationwide class action jury trial in California involving thick film ignition modules in 12 million vehicles. The trial ended in a hung jury.
- Defended Ford Motor Co. in a Missouri class action involving automobile transmissions.
- Won dismissal for Ford Motor Co. in an Alabama class action involving the Bronco II.
- Successfully defended a major engineering firm against an FLSA class action.
- Successfully defended a class action lawsuit filed in federal court in Colorado against a national financial institution accused of discriminating in its lending practices based on national origin.
- Won a motion to dismiss one of the nation's largest marijuana manufacturers facing labeling claims in the first class action brought against a marijuana grower in Colorado.