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Michael L. O'Donnell

Firm Chair

P. 303.244.1850 | F. 303.244.1879
"Tremendous trial and negotiation skills" and "a presence that commands respect."
—Client comments to Chambers USA


Michael O'Donnell has taken more than 85 trials to verdict and appeared as lead defense counsel in 45 states for class and mass actions, product liability, professional liability, and complex commercial matters for many of the nation's leading companies. Alongside his tremendous trial record, Mike is nationally recognized for his strength in settling complex litigation. Mike is a past president of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He is nationally ranked in Chambers USA, and his colleagues and peers have voted him the #1 lawyer in Colorado Super Lawyers for 10 of the last 11 years.

Mike has served as national trial and resolution counsel for numerous highly visible companies, including General Electric, Michelin North America, Advanced Bionics, McKesson, Boston Scientific, Guidant, Skyjack, and Pfizer. He is a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Mike is a former chairman of The Network of Trial Law Firms, a 5,000-member lawyer organization that offers continuing legal education programs on litigation topics. In 2021, a case that Mike tried (Nash v. Michelin) was selected as one of the Top Ten Defense Verdicts in the U.S. by Courtroom View Network.

Chambers USA ranks Mike nationwide for product liability and mass torts defense. Colorado Super Lawyers has ranked Mike the number-one lawyer in Colorado for nine years in a row (2013-2021) based on independent research and a survey of his peers--a feat no other Colorado lawyer has accomplished--and he has been named to its top 10 list every year since 2009. Best Lawyers lists Mike in seven litigation practice areas and named him "Denver Legal Malpractice Lawyer of the Year" for 2017 and 2011, and "Denver Product Liability Litigation Lawyer of the Year" for 2013 and 2012. In 2011, Law Week Colorado selected Mike as one of 10 "Lawyers of the Decade" and "Lawyer of the Year" in Colorado. In a survey conducted by Law Week Colorado in 2010, Mike was selected by his peers as the "Best Trial Lawyer" in Colorado.

In 2012, Mike was honored with the University of Denver Law Outstanding Alumni Award which is presented each year to one DU Law graduate who has demonstrated professional achievement and humanitarian service to the community. In 2008, he became only the seventh defense lawyer to receive an award from the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association for the highest standards of competency, ethics, and professionalism.


Trials & Oral Arguments

Major Settlements

  • Facilitated a rural electric cooperative's withdrawal from membership in a wholesale cooperative. WTO's client achieved settlement for hundreds of millions of dollars below the wholesaler's demand and can now acquire substantially cheaper and renewable green energy sources for its members.
  • Represented Denver International Airport in high-profile claims involving alleged bid rigging and unfair competition relating to a $50 million terminal concessions contract.
  • Represented Denver International Airport against the Regional Transportation District in a dispute over cost-sharing agreements involving a new rail line serving the airport.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Represent a Fortune 50 company as national resolution counsel in hundreds of cases involving a medical imaging contrast agent alleged to induce a rare disease.
  • Represented NBCUniversal and Universal Studios in a negligence and breach of contract action brought by Universal Music Group following a 2008 fire at Universal Studios. The dispute involved nuanced, complex issues including insurance subrogation and collateral source rule questions.
  • Obtained partial summary judgment in federal court for a large national law firm that had been sued for malpractice, aiding and abetting, conspiracy, and violations of RICO. The ruling reduced the damage claim from over $150 million to less than $2 million and paved the way for a favorable settlement of the case.

Other Representative Experience

Publications & Speaking Engagements


Book Chapters


Legal Memberships, Activities, and Honors

Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
    Immediate Past President, 2022-2023   
    President, 2021-2022
    President Elect, 2020-2021
    Treasurer, 2019-2020
    Secretary, 2018-2019
    Regent, 2012-2016
    Regent Liaison for ACTL Task Force on Discovery and Civil Justice,
    Sandra Day O'Connor Award Committee, 2013-2015
    Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Committee, 2013-2015
    Regent's Nominating Committee
        Chair, 2016
    Special Problems in the Administration of Justice Committee, Vice
        Chairman, 2011-2012
    Adjunct State Committee, 2011-2012
    Colorado State Committee, Chairman, 2008-2010
    Chairman-Elect, 2007-2008, Vice Chairman, 2006-2007
    Code of Conduct Committee, 2007-2008
    Complex Litigation Committee 2004-2005
Trustee, United States Supreme Court Historical Society, 2024
Fellow, International Academy of Trial Lawyers
American Board of Trial Advocates
Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America, The Trial Lawyer Honorary Society
    Member, Diversity Law Institute
    Member, Trial Law Institute
International Association of Defense Counsel
Chambers USA
   Product Liability - Nationwide, 2015-2023
   Commercial Litigation - Colorado, 2009-2023
BTI Consulting
   Client Service All-Star MVP, 2020    
   Client Service All-Star, 2019
The Best Lawyers in America 
    Denver Legal Malpractice Law - Defendants Lawyer of the Year, 2011, 2014, 2017, 2020
    Denver Personal Injury Litigation Lawyer of the Year, 2015, 2018
    Denver Product Liability Litigation Lawyer of the Year, 2012-2013, 2019
    Denver Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions - Defendants Lawyer of the Year, 2021
    Bet-the-Company Litigation, 2005-2024
    Commercial Litigation, 2005-2024
    Legal Malpractice Law, 2005-2024
    Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants, 2017-2024
    Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants, 2005-2024
    Product Liability Litigation - Defendants, 2005-2024
    Professional Malpractice Law - Defendants, 2017-2024
The Legal 500 United States
    Litigation: Product Liability and Mass Tort Defense, 2007, 2009-2011,
Benchmark Litigation
    Local Litigation Star, 2020-2024
    Commercial Litigation - Colorado, 2011-2018
    Product Liability - Colorado, 2013-2018
    Professional Liability - Colorado, 2013-2018
Colorado Super Lawyers
    Ranked #1 in Colorado, 2013-2022
    Top 10, 2007, 2009-2012, 2023-2024
    Personal Injury Defense: Products, 2009-2024
    Class Action/Mass Torts, 2006-2008
5280 Magazine
    Top Lawyer
        Civil Litigation, 2020-2021, 2023-2024
        Commercial Litigation, 2020-2021, 2023-2024
        Personal Injury: Defense, 2020-2021, 2023-2024
Law Week Colorado
    Lawyer of the Year, 2016
    "People's Choice" Best Overall Litigator, 2017
    "People's Choice" Civil Litigator, 2016
    "Barrister's Best" Best Overall Litigator, 2015, 2019
    "People's Choice" Class Action Defense Lawyer, 2014, 2021
    "Barrister's Best" Best Class Action/Mass Tort Defense Lawyer, 2012, 2021
    Lawyers of the Decade, 2011  
    "Barrister's Best" Best Trial Lawyer, 2010 5280 Magazine
    Top Lawyer 
          Personal Injury Defense, 2015-2019
          Civil Litigation, 2015-2019
          Commercial Litigation, 2017-2019
University of Denver Sturm College of Law
    Dean's Advisory Board, 2022
    Outstanding Alumni Award, 2012
    Co-Chair of Reunion Committee, 2004
University of Notre Dame Law School Council, 2019
Euromoney's Expert Guides - Litigation and Product Liability
Martindale-Hubbell AV® Peer Review Rated
The International Who's Who of Product Liability Defense Lawyers, 2011, 2014-2017, 2019
The International Who's Who of Life Sciences Lawyers, 2014, 2017
Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS)
    ACTL Task Force on Discovery and Civil Justice, member
    2015 Rebuilding Justice Award
Colorado Trial Lawyers Association
    Award for Competency, Ethics, and Professionalism, 2008
The American Lawyer
    Top Commercial Litigation Lawyers, 2006
Corporate LiveWire
    2014 Lawyer of the Year - Litigation & Dispute Resolution (Denver)
Best of the Bar, Denver Business Journal
Colorado Bar Foundation
The Network of Trial Law Firms
    Chairman, 2005-2006
Denver Bar Association
    Vice President, Board of Trustees
Colorado Bar Association
    Member, Board of Governors
American Bar Association
    Chairman, Issues Affecting the Legal Profession
    Young Lawyers Section Liaison to Standing Committee on
        Professional Discipline
American Bar Foundation
    Life Fellow
Judge William E. Doyle American Inn of Court, Master
Denver Law Club
Faculty of Federal Advocates
    Board of Directors, 2004-2005
Defense Research Institute
    Member, Professional Liability Committee
Colorado Defense Lawyers Association
USDC Colorado Committee on Conduct, 2012
Who's Who in Law, Denver Business Journal
Colorado Judicial Institute
    Board of Directors, 2004-present
    Judicial Awards Committee, 2006-present
IAALS Law Firm Council
    Founding member
National Center for State Courts
    Lawyers Committee Member
Lawdragon 500 Leading Litigators in America, 2022, 2023

Community Memberships, Activities, and Honors

Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell Foundation
    Founder and President, 2005-present
Archdiocese of Denver
    Finance Council, 2008-2013
Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Denver
    Board Member, 2010-present
Denver Police Foundation
    Board of Directors, 2004-present
Walking for Kids
    Founding Member, Board of Directors, 2009-present Foundation, Inc.
    President, 2005-2006
The Catholic Foundation
    Board of Directors, Advancement Committee, 2004-2005
American Heart Association of Colorado and Wyoming
    Chairman of the Board
American Heart Association of Colorado
    Denver Metro Division, Chairman of the Board
Denver Tennis Club
    Board of Directors
The Village Club
Hundred Club of Denver

Teaching Positions

BAR-BRI Course on Professional Responsibility
National Institute for Trial Advocacy
University of Denver Sturm College of Law
    Guest Lecturer
University of Colorado at Denver, MBA Program
    Guest Lecturer
Numerous CLE Presentations

Personal Interests

Family, golf, reading, travel

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