Catastrophic Injury Defense
Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell represents defendants in catastrophic personal injury matters. We have particular experience with high-exposure cases in which the plaintiffs are seeking damage awards, including punitive or exemplary damages, in the range of multimillions to billions of dollars.
Our lawyers are often retained on the eve of trial to try difficult cases, especially those with serious injuries in plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions, when settlement negotiations being handled by other law firms have been unsuccessful.
WTO lawyers have represented numerous large corporations, healthcare providers, professional services firms, property owners and managers, insurance companies, small businesses, and individual professionals in disputes involving injury to the plaintiff.
- Won a jury defense verdict for Foster Wheeler in a three-week asbestos trial in federal court in Massachusetts. The plaintiff—a sympathetic Navy widow represented by a high-profile asbestos plaintiff firm—asked for $20 million in compensatory damages and $43 million in punitive damages.
- Won a motion to dismiss claims of negligence, extreme and outrageous conduct, willful and wanton conduct, and reckless endangerment for a ski resort client and its employee. The court agreed with WTO's argument that the Premises Liability Act preempted the plaintiff's claims against the ski resort.
- Won a complete defense verdict in a 12-day wrongful death mesothelioma trial for Pneumo Abex LLC in federal court in North Carolina.
- Won a favorable jury verdict in a $350 million personal injury trial for a motorcyclist accused of negligence causing his passenger's catastrophic injuries. WTO's defense compelled the jury to find our client just 5% liable and assign 95% of liability to another party.
- Hired a month before trial, won a defense verdict in Texas for an oil and gas company in a $20 million personal injury case.
- Won the first medical malpractice defense verdict in plaintiff-friendly Las Vegas, New Mexico in over 35 years for a hospital in a $40 million case involving allegations of failure to diagnose and treat a lung disease which resulted in a patient's death. The jury unanimously found for WTO's client.
- Won a unanimous defense jury verdict for Michelin North America in a $66 million product liability trial in South Carolina. The plaintiffs claimed that an allegedly defective Michelin motorcycle tire caused an accident resulting in catastrophic injuries.
- Won walk-away dismissal with no money paid for a national cosmetics company in a talc case with 78 defendants in Denver District Court. The plaintiff claimed that asbestos-contaminated talc in the client's products caused his mesothelioma.
- Won summary judgment for General Electric in a seven-figure mesothelioma case in plaintiff-friendly Ramsay County, Minnesota. The win came less than a month before trial, and marks WTO's second asbestos victory of 2021 in this challenging jurisdiction.
- Won dismissal for a Colorado-based manufacturer in an asbestos product liability case in the plaintiff-friendly "judicial hellhole" of St. Clair County, Illinois. WTO asserted jurisdictional defenses at the pleading stage and later won dismissal after the plaintiff's deposition.
- Represented oil and gas companies in high-exposure cases arising from well-site and other industry-related accidents resulting in catastrophic injury and death.
- Represented a brewery owner after an explosion in Virginia caused by methane by-products in a wastewater tank killed two people.
- Represented a gas utility at trial in Texas in a case involving a natural gas explosion that severely burned two individuals. Settled for a fraction of the demand.
- Represented an oil and gas company in a catastrophic injury case involving an oil rig employee who was crushed by a piece of loose equipment.
- Defending utility companies and equipment manufacturers in catastrophic fire and explosion cases resulting in major burn injuries.
- Represented a utility company at trial in Missouri in a case involving a maintenance worker who suffered loss of limb after electrocution while attempting to service a billboard. Settled for a fraction of the demand.
- Won a motion to dismiss in federal court in Colorado in a matter of first impression for a major industrial manufacturer facing toxic tort and wrongful death claims. WTO's novel arguments resulted in the product liability statute taking precedence for the first time.
- Represented a temporary staffing agency at certiorari-level review in the appeal of the largest individual personal injury judgment in Colorado history.
- Won dismissal for Skyjack in Pennsylvania District Court in a product liability matter involving alleged injury on a scissor lift. The case was dismissed on the basis of lack of personal jurisdiction.
- Served as lead trial counsel to a leading Las Vegas transportation company for the defense of high-stakes motor vehicle accidents.
- Won a defense verdict in a highly public, multi-week jury trial alleging a wrongful death claim against a recreation industry client following the tragic death of a minor. Successfully defended the appeal.
- Won summary judgment for a leading ski resort operator in a ski lift injury case.
- Represent a major industrial equipment manufacturer in nationwide high-exposure cases involving multiple injury and wrongful death claims.
- Won for Foster Wheeler in an asbestos failure to warn case involving the government contractor defense. The Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded to the district court following WTO's arguments in this matter of first impression.
- Won a Rule 21 petition (an "extraordinary remedy") for Ford to the Colorado Supreme Court in a case involving general jurisdiction and venue claims. The opinion makes it harder for companies with no connection to Colorado to be sued in the state.
- Won a complete defense jury verdict for Michelin following a nine-week product liability trial in Florida in which the plaintiffs requested damages between $80 million and $1.2 billion following a rollover accident involving Michelin tires. WTO also won the appeal.
- Won a unanimous defense verdict for Michelin following a three-week trial in Arizona state court in which the plaintiff demanded $20 million in actual and punitive damages.
- Won a defense verdict for Pepsi Bottling Group in a six-day jury trial. The plaintiff claimed a traumatic brain injury as a result of being struck with falling merchandise from a retail display. WTO's client was one of two defendants in the litigation, and the jury assigned no fault to our client.
- Successfully represented a privately-held oil company in mass torts litigation arising from a deadly 2013 train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. Following resolution, represented the client as a policyholder to recover insurance proceeds covering most of the client's contributions to the global settlement fund.
- Won a defense verdict in federal court in Spokane, Washington, for Easterday Farms in a $12 million personal injury case involving an explosive collision between two tractor-trailers.
- 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.
- 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.
- Defended a trucking company against negligence claims arising from a nine-vehicle accident on a snowy Nebraska interstate highway.
- Defended the appeal to the New Mexico Court of Appeals of a 2009 jury verdict that WTO won for a large food store in a personal injury case.
- Won a defense verdict for a Washington D.C. hospital in a $40 million medical malpractice lawsuit that involved a baby born with severe brain damage.
- Won a jury defense verdict in Louisiana in a premises liability case in which a sign in an AT&T store fell and injured a child.
- Won a unanimous jury verdict in a Santa Fe, New Mexico district court in the defense of a personal injury claim brought against a food store.
- Won a jury verdict in Cook County, Illinois, for General Electric in an asbestos duty to warn case involving power plant land turbines.
- 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.
- Won a defense verdict for Pizza Hut/Yum! Brands in liability case stemming from an automobile accident involving a delivery driver.
- Won a defense verdict for Pizza Hut/Yum! Brands in a liability case involving traumatic brain injury and over $3.5 million in damages following an accident involving a Pizza Hut delivery vehicle.
- Successfully defended the Vancouver Canucks NHL organization in a lawsuit brought by Colorado Avalanche player Steven Moore as a result of severe injuries he sustained during a hockey game. WTO obtained dismissal of the lawsuit on the grounds of lack of personal jurisdiction and forum non conveniens, and also obtained a six-figure award of attorney's fees and costs in favor of the Canucks organization and against Mr. Moore.
- Represented a national shipping company in a wrongful death lawsuit filed in Montana involving two of its contract drivers who allegedly struck and killed a firefighter directing traffic in a snowstorm. After more than two years of challenging litigation, WTO was called in four weeks before trial and obtained a favorable settlement.