"Dominant trial practice fielding an impressive bench
of expert product liability attorneys."
In 2020, Chambers USA ranked four Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell lawyers for nationwide product liability and mass torts defense. That places WTO among the top 8 firms in the nation based on the number of lawyers ranked in that practice area.
Only a few firms nationally match WTO's experience in product liability litigation. Fewer still can approach our efficiency and cost effectiveness in this field. WTO lawyers have served as national, regional, and lead trial counsel, and as national coordinating counsel, for many well-known companies. Our firm has prevailed in scores of high-stakes and highly visible product liability cases nationwide.
- Won summary judgment for General Electric in a seven-figure asbestos case in plaintiff-friendly Ramsey County, Minnesota. The win came just three weeks before trial.
- Won dismissal on summary judgment for an agricultural equipment manufacturer in a product liability case claiming that an allegedly defective combine header amputated the plaintiff's fingers during a routine inspection. WTO argued the briefing remotely.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Dukes v. Michelin (4th Dist. Ct. App. Fla. 2019) - Won affirmance for Michelin to preserve a defense verdict WTO won in a nine-week product liability trial in Florida with $80 million to $1.2 billion at stake.
- 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.
- Represent a medical device manufacturer in litigation involving fetal monitoring.
- Walker v. Ford Motor Co., 2017 CO 102 - Won a significant victory for Ford Motor Co. in the Colorado Supreme Court. The case reestablishes that the risk-benefit test is the appropriate test for juries to assess whether a product has been defectively designed. The Court also held that a manufacturer could not be negligent if it designed a "reasonably safe" product.
- Sawyer v. Foster Wheeler (4th Cir. 2017) - 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 that evidence set forth by Foster Wheeler was sufficient to demonstrate a colorable defense establishing federal jurisdiction.
- Represent a major industrial equipment manufacturer in nationwide high-exposure cases involving multiple injury and wrongful death claims.
- Ripley v. Foster Wheeler (4th Cir. 2016) - 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.
- Magill v. Ford Motor Co. (Colo. 2016) - 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.
- Dukes v. Michelin (Nineteenth Jud. Cir. St. Lucie Cnty. FL 2016) - 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.
- Represent MacDon, Inc. as national trial counsel in product liability cases involving combine headers.
- Hadjih v. Evenflo (D. Colo. 2015) - Won a complete defense jury verdict in federal court for Evenflo in a $15 million failure-to-warn trial arising out of permanent injuries to a child involved in an accident while riding in an Evenflo infant seat.
- Allen v. Michelin (Ariz. Sup. Ct. Mohave Cnty. 2015) - 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.
- 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."
- Won Montana Supreme Court affirmance of a jury verdict favoring Ford Motor Company in a product liability case involving a fatal car accident.
- 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.
- Won exclusion of plaintiffs' general causation experts in multidistrict litigation involving more than 600 claimants alleging the antidepressant Zoloft caused birth defects.
- Obtained summary judgment for General Electric Company in an asbestos liability case in the U.S.D.C. for the District of Wyoming.
- 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.
- Represent Electrolux, a global leader in household and commercial appliances, in certain consumer class actions nationwide and in product liability matters filed in Colorado.
- Bancroft v. Dana (Penn. Philadelphia C.P. 2013) - Brought in just three weeks before jury selection, WTO won a complete defense verdict for Dana Corporation in an asbestos wrongful-death trial in Philadelphia.
- 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.
- Successfully represent various manufacturers, retailers, and private labelers of diverse consumer products in regulatory inquiries and negotiations regarding the scope of voluntary recalls.
- Hadjih v. Evenflo (D. Colo. 2012) - Won a unanimous jury defense verdict in federal court in Colorado for Evenflo Company in a two-week trial involving liability for permanent injuries to a child strapped into an Evenflo car seat during an auto accident. Ultimately, the jury agreed with our argument that the seat saved the child's life rather than caused the child's injuries.
- Hoffman v. Ford (10th Cir. 2012) - Won Tenth Circuit reversal of a federal district court jury verdict favoring the plaintiff and secured a judgment in favor of Ford Motor Co. in a product liability case involving a rollover crash in which the plaintiff was rendered a quadriplegic.
- Schanel v. Ford Motor Co. (Colo. Ct. App. 2012) - Defended the appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals of a 2010 jury verdict that WTO won for Ford Motor Company in an electronic throttle product liability case.
- Anderson v. Pfizer (N. Dak. 2010) - Successfully defended a pharmaceutical company against claims that a convicted murderer's actions were induced by prescription medication. The plaintiff dismissed the case after 18 months of intense litigation.
- Wirsz v. Nissan (Cal. Los Angeles Cnty. Super. Ct.) - Won a unanimous defense verdict in California Superior Court for Nissan in a lawsuit involving a claim that an allegedly defective seat system resulted in the plaintiff's quadriplegia following a horrific car crash.
- Secured a ruling from a California appeals court affirming the preemption of claims brought against WTO's client for its abdominal stent medical device.
- 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.
- McNellis v. Pfizer (3d Cir. 2008) - Won an appeal for Pfizer in a groundbreaking preemption case before the Third Circuit.
- Stewart v. Foster Wheeler (D. Iowa 2008) - Won a defense jury verdict for Foster Wheeler in the first asbestos wrongful death case tried to a verdict in Iowa in over 10 years.
- 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.
- 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.
- White v. Ford, 500 F.3d 963 (9th Cir. 2007) - Won a reversal and a new trial on the punitive damages phase of a product liability case originally tried by another firm in 1998. Persuaded the second jury to award only one-third of the amount awarded in the initial trial.
- Represented footwear manufacturer Crocs in nationwide litigation involving allegations of defectively designed footwear and failure to warn with respect to alleged risks associated with wearing the shoes on escalators.
- Won a jury defense verdict in U.S.D.C. for the District of Colorado for an automobile manufacturer in a wrongful death crashworthiness case.
- Taylor v. Solvay Pharmaceuticals - Obtained voluntary dismissal of claims against Solvay Pharmaceuticals in litigation stemming from the 1999 Columbine High School shooting.
- Estrada v. Nissan - Defeated class status and a recall attempt against Nissan in a putative class action involving airbags.
- Miller v. Pfizer - Won exclusion of a star expert for the plaintiffs in antidepressant suicide litigation and won summary judgment for Pfizer in federal court in Kansas in a case alleging that the company's antidepressant led to the suicide of a minor.
- Motus v. Pfizer - Obtained summary judgment for Pfizer in a case alleging wrongful death, failure to warn, and other claims involving the company's popular antidepressant, and won on appeal in the Ninth Circuit.
- Grimes v. Mazda - Won a defense verdict in Kentucky for Ford Motor Co. in a rollover case involving a Mazda pickup truck.
- Geier v. American Honda, 529 U.S. 861 (2000) - Won a U.S. Supreme Court victory for Honda in a precedent-setting case involving federal preemption standards as applied to airbags in the automotive industry.
- 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.
- Tebbetts v. Ford - Won a New Hampshire "no airbag" trial for Ford before getting all no-airbag cases held preempted in Geier in the U.S. Supreme Court.
- State of Indiana v. Ford - Successfully defended Ford Motor Co. against criminal charges of reckless homicide in the design of the Pinto automobile.
- Steenbergen v. Ford Motor Co. - Successfully defended the first "no-airbag" case tried to a verdict.
- Williams v. Whirlpool - Obtained a defense verdict in a fire fatality case alleging design defects in appliance.