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Frederick R. Yarger

Partner

P. 303.244.1990 | F. 303.244.1879
"Exceptionally gifted . . . one of the brightest legal minds I've ever encountered."
—Former Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman

Biography

Fred Yarger, the former Solicitor General of Colorado, represents clients in high-stakes appeals and complex litigation nationwide. He has been on the front lines of dozens of precedent-setting cases in a wide range of legal areas. His appellate experience spans multiple states and federal appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, where he has argued as counsel of record multiple times. In trial courts, Fred develops sophisticated strategies that protect his clients’ interests and seek to favorably shape the law.

In every case, whether at trial or on appeal, Fred partners with his clients to find creative ways to advance their business priorities. In addition to his trial and appellate successes, Fred’s government experience helps him advocate for clients before state and federal regulatory and investigative agencies. Fred also maintains an active pro bono practice; for example, he currently represents an inmate subjected to excessive force by a group of prison guards trained to employ military-style tactics against inmates in a county jail.

Fred’s written advocacy has been recognized by top appellate and Supreme Court litigators; he is a three-time winner of the National Association of Attorneys General “Best U.S. Supreme Court Brief” award. In 2018, Law Week Colorado named Fred a Top Litigator, and the Denver Business Journal recognized him in its annual “Who’s Who in Energy” for his successes litigating issues affecting the oil and gas industry. Before joining WTO, Fred was a partner in an AmLaw 20 firm.

Cases

Appeals

U.S. Supreme Court

  • Represented irrigation district serving farmers in south Oregon in a water-use dispute described by Law360 as an "Environmental Case to Watch."
  • Represented a pro-bono client in certiorari-stage proceedings in the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge a criminal conviction based on emerging constitutional law.
  • Represented a group of state legislative leaders in filing a U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief in a major election law case that will shape state-level election policy for future elections.
  • Represented a major car maker in certiorari-stage proceedings in the U.S. Supreme Court, preserving a favorable lower court decision that precluded liability for a class of employment discrimination claims.
  • Argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in defense of Colorado's anti-discrimination laws in a closely-watched case that the national media described as a "blockbuster."
  • Argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving administration of an interstate water compact governing a river system that provides drinking water and irrigation to over six million people in three U.S. States and Mexico.
  • Won a complete victory in the U.S. Supreme Court in an interstate pollution case claiming hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. Convinced the U.S. Department of Justice to file a brief supporting the client's position.
  • Won a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned a Colorado Supreme Court decision severely restricting local governments from pursuing school choice policies.
  • Argued a challenge to state rules governing refunds of criminal fees. Helped lead a subsequent legislative effort to make Colorado a leader in granting due process rights to criminal defendants who seek refunds after reversal of their convictions.
  • Argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in a case challenging jury secrecy rules that dictate when a verdict is subject to challenge in claims of individual juror bias. National media called this a "top five" case of the term.
  • Successfully defended Colorado's marijuana regulatory framework before the U.S. Supreme Court and the Tenth Circuit, defeating federal preemption claims that would have prevented states from tightly regulating the supply side of the multibillion-dollar marijuana market. Persuaded the U.S. Department of Justice to support the client's position before the Supreme Court.
  • Won a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that vacated an adverse decision of the Tenth Circuit and opened up new legal arguments for a client on remand to the trial court.

Trials & Litigation

  • Representing a telecommunications company in a high-value commercial dispute implicating a nationwide communications network.
  • Counsel in a federal jury trial in a multimillion-dollar dispute concerning alleged construction defects in a large residential development; lead counsel on appeal.
  • Served as appellate preservation counsel to a natural resources company for a jury trial in a commercial dispute with tens of millions of dollars in claimed damages.
  • Successfully represented large healthcare system in series of regulatory proceedings under a first-of-its kind legal framework to set reimbursement rates for "public option" health insurance plans.
  • Successfully dismissed a client from a complex commercial dispute involving a technology platform intended to facilitate quality control for consumer products.
  • Represented a leading ridesharing company in catastrophic injury cases with millions of dollars in claimed damages.
  • Represented a wholesale energy company in a multi-jurisdictional dispute with multiple counterparties, preserving tens of millions of dollars of contract value and a key long-term business objective for the client.
  • Advised an oil and gas company on state law regulatory issues that threatened the client's assets in a major oil and gas producing region.
  • Advised a national distribution company on litigation strategy concerning federal regulations governing the distribution and sale of electronic tobacco products.
  • Served as appellate preservation counsel in a First Amendment case challenging a major university's policies regarding the recognition of religious student groups.
  • Won preliminary and permanent injunctions after a contested evidentiary hearing in trial court, invalidating federal oil and gas regulations that duplicated state rules and hindered resource development.
  • Served as counsel for Colorado in a multistate coalition that won the first injunction against the federal "Waters of the United States Rule."
  • Defended a public company auditor at trial and on appeal in a proceeding brought by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • Represented the patent holder of an antidepressant in a multistate class action raising antitrust and consumer protection claims.
  • Represented a domestic company seeking to protect and enforce an international marketing and distribution agreement in simultaneous actions filed in Florida and California federal trial courts.

Publications & Speaking Engagements

    Presentations

  • Presenter, "On the Docket at the U.S. Supreme Court," Nebraska State Bar Association, (October 20, 2023).
  • Co-presenter, "Appellate Preservation in State & Federal Colorado Courts," Denver City Attorney's Office, (August 9, 2023).
  • Co-presenter, "The Power of Plain Language in an Oil and Gas Lease: A Case Study," Jamie Jost of Jost Energy at the 49th Annual Fall Land Institute of the Denver Association of Professional Landmen (November 3, 2022).
  • Co-presenter, "A Pandemic, Redistricting, and an Election Year," (June 21, 2022).
  • Co-presenter, with Jamie Jost and Kelsey Wasylenky of Jost Energy Law, "Navigating the New Normal in a Changed Oil & Gas Climate," (January 21, 2021).
  • Co-moderator, "Colorado Bar Association CLE: "Friend or Foe: Amicus Briefs in Colorado's Appellate Courts," Panel Discussion by Colorado Supreme Court Justices Melissa Hart and William Hood, III and Chief Judge Steve Bernard of the Colorado Court of Appeals, (November 6, 2020).
  • "Federalist Society Nationwide Teleforum: Representing Colorado," A Conversation with Solicitor General Eric Olson and Former Solicitor General Fred Yarger, (April 2020).
  • Presenter, "COVID-19: Legal Implications of Colorado's Stay-at-Home Order," Centennial Institute, (March 2020).
  • Keynote Speaker, "Let Them Speak Cake: Expansion of Free Speech and Masterpiece Cakeshop," The Federal Bar Association Civil Rights Section, (March 30, 2018).
  • Presenter, "Colorado at the United States Supreme Court," The American Bar Association, Appellate Practice Regional Meeting, (March 6, 2018).
  • Presenter, Masterpiece Cakeshop: Interview with Colorado Solicitor General Fred Yarger, The University of Chicago Law Review Podcast, 2, (January 13, 2018).

Articles

Press

Other Experience

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP
    Partner

Legal Memberships, Activities, and Honors

Chambers USA
    Colorado Litigation - Appellate Spotlight, 2021-2023
National Association of Attorneys General “Best Brief” Award for excellence in written advocacy before the United States Supreme Court 
    2015-2018 (three-time winner)
Denver Business Journal
    “Who’s Who in Energy,” 2018
Law Week Colorado
    Litigator of the Year, 2018
The Best Lawyers in America
    Appellate Practice, 2020, 2022-2024
5280 Magazine
    Top Lawyer - Appellate, 2024
Colorado Supreme Court Standing Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct
    Member
Tenth Circuit Historical Society
    Vice President and Member of the Board of Directors
Product Liability Advisory Council
    Member
Colorado Bar Association
Federalist Society
Colorado Civil Justice League, Legal Advisory Board
     Member

Personal Interests

Chasing after his three young sons with his wife Katie (also a full-time lawyer), the Colorado music scene, skiing, and hiking Colorado’s mountains.

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