In 2019, Chambers USA ranked Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell among the top 13 firms in the nation for product liability and mass torts defense. Only a few firms nationally match WTO's experience in mass torts litigation. Fewer still can approach our efficiency and cost effectiveness in this field.
WTO lawyers try cases all over the nation involving mass accidents and injuries, toxic torts, and pattern litigation. Our lawyers understand the nuances and natural progressions of litigation in each arena, and they collaborate seamlessly to assist clients as claims evolve.
Our ability to coordinate multidistrict litigation and manage large volumes of consolidated cases—nationally and even internationally—is well established, as our representative MDL matters show. WTO is practiced in simultaneously preparing for the trial of bellwether cases while also developing resolution strategies and assembling and coordinating nationwide teams to achieve favorable settlements quickly and efficiently for our clients.
If your company is involved in a catastrophic accident or incident with mass casualties or mass tort litigation, WTO has the experience to guide you through it.
Our lawyers are prepared to respond immediately to client emergencies to help avoid or mitigate legal liability. We know that crisis communications play a significant role at the time of any incident or emergence of issues, as well as during litigation. WTO lawyers have experience handling local and national media inquiries and working with public relations consultants, media specialists, and lobbyists. When the need arises, we can respond appropriately to difficult or pointed questions on behalf of our clients, or work with them behind the scenes to craft skillful, tactful messaging.
Scientific and Technical Backgrounds
A number of WTO attorneys have formal education in the sciences, and many have in-depth scientific and engineering knowledge acquired through years of practice in technical cases. This knowledge helps our teams communicate effectively with professionals in engineering, the sciences, medicine, and other areas to prepare for trial and develop persuasive briefs and courtroom demonstratives. We always are thinking about how the important technical aspects of a case may be simplified for juries and judges that may not be familiar with the subject area.
- In re Juul Labs Inc. Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation (19-md-02193-WHO, N.D. Cal.) - Serving as lead national trial counsel to a major U.S. distributor of vaping products in federal multidistrict litigation in California. WTO is liaison counsel to all of the distributor defendants in the litigation.
- 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.
- In re Gadolinium-Based Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2868 (J.P.M.L. 2018) - As lead national trial counsel to GE Healthcare, successfully argued before the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to defeat plaintiffs' attempt create an MDL involving gadolinium-based contrast agents.
- Taylor, et al. v. Michelin North America, Inc., et al. (N.D. Okla. 2017) - Representing Michelin and Goodrich Corp. against claims brought by more than 100 plaintiffs alleging groundwater contamination by benzene and other chemicals from a long-closed tire manufacturing plant in Oklahoma. Claims include nuisance, trespass, unjust enrichment, and RCRA violations.
- Won exclusion of plaintiffs' general causation experts in multidistrict litigation involving more than 600 claimants alleging the antidepressant Zoloft caused birth defects.
- Successfully represented a privately held oil company in mass torts litigation arising from a deadly 2013 train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. Following resolution, helped client pursue claims to recover most of its contributions to the global settlement fund.
- Served as national counsel to a global healthcare company in multidistrict litigation involving over 12,000 claims relating to dialysis products. WTO helped develop national resolution strategy, identified bellwether cases, and negotiated settlement of all claims.
- 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.
- Representing 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.
- Represented a food distributor in allegations of Listeria contamination resulting in 33 deaths and 146 confirmed cases in one of the largest and deadliest food-borne illness outbreaks in the United States.
- Serving as national coordinating and trial counsel to a cochlear implant manufacturer for the defense of product liability lawsuits involving a Class III medical device used to treat hearing loss.
- Mulcahy v. Rapid American (Ill. Cook Cnty. Cir.Ct.) - Won a jury verdict in Cook County, Illinois, for General Electric in an asbestos duty to warn case involving power plant land turbines.
- Pelletier v. Alfa Laval (Cal. Sup.Ct.) - Won a defense jury verdict for Leslie Controls, the sole remaining defendant at trial after other defendants settled. A jury deliberated for just 20 minutes before deciding our client was not liable for the plaintiff's mesothelioma.
- Represented Continental Airlines and Global Aerospace in matters stemming from a 2008 incident in which a plane skidded off the runway at Denver International Airport due to strong crosswinds. The claims involved over 200 plaintiffs.
- Won defense verdicts in simultaneous trials for Foster Wheeler in Los Angeles, CA, and Iowa City, IA.
- Won a defense verdict after five weeks of trial in Massachusetts in a living mesothelioma case, the first asbestos case tried to verdict in Boston in 10 years.
- Retained as lead trial counsel to defend General Electric against claims brought by more than 100 NATO soldiers for cancer-causing exposure to ionizing radiation from missile systems used during the Cold War. Settled all 40 related cases for what would have amounted to approximately two months' worth of defense costs.
- Taylor v. Solvay Pharmaceuticals - Obtained voluntary dismissal of claims against Solvay Pharmaceuticals in litigation stemming from the 1999 Columbine High School shooting.
- Represented defendants in the Dupont Plaza Hotel fire that killed 97 people in Puerto Rico.
- Represented defendants in claims relating to the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire, which killed 168 people in Southgate, Kentucky.
- Defended Mobay Chemical Company (then a subsidiary of Bayer) against claims arising from the Sunshine Mine disaster. The catastrophic fire in the Idaho silver mine killed more than 90 miners. After a four-month trial, all claims against Mobay were dismissed.
- Won a jury defense verdict for Conoco following a six-week trial involving claims by the town of Castle Rock, Colorado that a leaking Conoco underground storage tank had contaminated the town's municipal drinking water.
- Represented Conoco in the favorable settlement of toxic tort litigation brought by the City and County of Denver regarding the contamination and cleanup of Denver's former airport.
- Represented Coors in the settlement of CERCLA litigation brought by the City and County of Denver regarding the Lowry Landfill.
- Successfully represented a diagnostic testing company against class action allegations following a high-profile hepatitis outbreak at a hospital, and obtained a complete dismissal of all claims without any settlement payment by WTO's client.