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Trial Co-Chairs Hallie Levin and Joseph Mueller SpotlightedLearn More
WilmerHale Women: Trial LawyersLearn More
We are proud to field a diverse roster of trial talent—litigators who are as varied in race, gender, ethnicity, geography, and background as they are experienced across legal disciplines, issues, subject-matter areas and jurisdictions.
We try cases, and we win them. Since 2010, WilmerHale’s Trial Practice has handled more than 320 trials and arbitration hearings in the United States and internationally, many with multiple billions of dollars at stake.
We bring clients’ stories to life using classic trial techniques: a relentless focus on themes and narrative, incisive cross-examinations, clean and strong evidentiary records, and a flair for creativity and drama.
A Win for DaVita in Unprecedented Criminal Conspiracy Case
After a two-week trial and two days of deliberation, a federal jury in Denver acquitted both the company and its former CEO Kent Thiry on all charges—three counts of criminal conspiracy to violate the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.
The stakes were extremely high: DaVita faced fines of up to $100 million per count while Thiry faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine per count.
This closely watched federal trial was the first involving a company or individual criminally charged for so-called “no poach” labor agreements under the 132-year-old Sherman Anti-Trust Act.
The case was one of the first labor market cases that the DOJ has brought to trial since 2016. Such cases seek to prosecute criminally not only wage fixing agreements, but also non-solicitation and no-hire agreements as market allocation agreements.
By arguing that DaVita and Thiry never intended to allocate the market for employees and highlighting the fact that employees transferred between various companies throughout the alleged conspiracy, the WilmerHale team, led by Partner John Walsh (pictured) was able to secure an unprecedented victory in uncharted waters.
A Rare Acquittal in Federal Criminal Antitrust Case and Dismissal of OCC Charges
In a stunning November 2018 trial victory in the Southern District of New York (SDNY), a WilmerHale team won an acquittal for Rohan Ramchandani, a former London-based foreign exchange trader at Citigroup, who faced up to 10 years in prison had he been convicted on criminal antitrust charges. The team, led at trial by Partner Anjan Sahni (pictured), followed up this win with another extraordinary victory in July 2021, when the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) took the extremely rare step of dropping its own charges against Ramchandani, with prejudice, after a years-long enforcement effort.
In 2015, five banks pleaded guilty and agreed to pay steep fines after US and UK government investigations led to allegations of illegal activity by former traders. US prosecutors indicted Rohan Ramchandani and two other former foreign exchange traders in 2017 for illegal price-fixing. The charges were based principally on the traders’ communications in an online chatroom, which the government claimed they used to fix prices in the $5.1 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market over a period of six years.
During the two-week SDNY trial, first chair Sahni—along with counsel for the other two defendants—methodically chipped away at the government’s case. While the government relied mainly on the chatroom communications, the WilmerHale team dug into vast amounts of trading data to mount a thorough and convincing defense. Further, in one strategic move, the team made the decision to call a fact witness, who explained how chatrooms actually supported competition by helping to obtain better prices for customers. The jury took less than five hours to deliver its verdict to acquit all three defendants—an extremely rare outcome in a federal criminal case.
Undeterred by the decisive 2018 trial verdict, however, the OCC reinitiated its case in early 2020, setting in motion more than a year of discovery. At the same time, the US Department of Justice litigated to prevent Ramchandani from using exculpatory evidence from the criminal trial in his OCC proceeding. In January 2021, the strenuous efforts of Ramchandani’s legal team paid off when an SDNY judge ruled that the trial exhibits could be used in the OCC enforcement action.
The news of the OCC’s dismissal of charges came unexpectedly, six months later, as the legal team was preparing to file a summary judgement motion. “Cases like this require a combination of deep immersion in the trading data; developing simple, common sense themes; and humanizing our client,” said Sahni. “We’re honored to have represented Mr. Ramchandani in this matter and grateful for the trust he placed in us.”
Victory Preserves Tens of Billions in Revenue for BMS and Pfizer
When 25 generic pharmaceutical companies submitted applications to the FDA to sell generic forms of the blockbuster drug Eliquis®, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) and Pfizer called on WilmerHale to help uphold their business-critical patents. Eliquis®, a novel anticoagulant that is used to treat and reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke in certain patients, is one of most significant assets for the two companies, generating approximately $5 billion annually in US sales.
With the BMS and Pfizer patents on one formulation of the drug’s active ingredient, apixaban, not set to expire until 2026 and the other in effect until 2031, a WilmerHale team led by Partner Amy Wigmore (pictured) filed infringement suits against all 25 of the generics. By the time the suits were consolidated, the Eliquis® case was one of the largest Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) suits ever filed. Over time, the team was able to negotiate favorable settlements with 22 of the companies, and only three remained by the time of the fall 2019 federal bench trial in Delaware.
At trial, Partner Bill Lee methodically tackled the generics’ two highly technical validity challenges, including one asserting that “pharmaceutically acceptable salt forms” of apixaban couldn’t exist. With the typical WilmerHale flair for demonstratives, Lee called on the former chair of Harvard’s chemistry department to describe how one of his students was able to make three different apixaban salts in under five hours and ran a video showing the salt forming like snow in a flask. Next, a Philadelphia cardiologist and a Princeton medicinal chemist testified to the pharmaceutical safety of the salts. In a withering cross-examination, Lee presented the generics’ expert with numerous household items, including toothpaste, that contain chemicals with the same properties.
The generics’ formulation challenge fared no better. Their own experts were unable to persuasively identify why the theoretical conclusion of an expert witness for BMS and Pfizer—who, like the firm’s other expert witnesses, had undergone meticulous preparation for the trial—was wrong. Judge Stark’s 87-page post-trial opinion rejected each argument raised by the generics, finding the Pfizer and BMS patents valid and infringed. The verdict likely prevents these generics from entering the market until at least 2031, protecting tens of millions of our clients’ revenue.
A Novel Trial Approach Saves $26 Billion T-Mobile Merger
In a landmark antitrust trial, Partner Hallie Levin (pictured) led a WilmerHale team to a resounding victory for clients T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom. Attorneys General from 13 states and the District of Columbia sought to enjoin the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, but, in a February 2020 decision, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York unambiguously rejected the plaintiffs’ arguments and credited the testimony and evidence presented by T-Mobile’s legal team.
This team developed the crucial strategy, unusual for antitrust litigation, that focused on the credibility of T-Mobile’s executives and argued, through the extensive use of T-Mobile’s normal course-of business documents, that the plaintiffs’ theories were inconsistent with T-Mobile’s longstanding “Un-carrier” business model.
“As a trial lawyer, I was always convinced that, despite the predictive nature of antitrust law and its emphasis on economic analysis, the real-world facts should and would matter here,” Levin later told The American Lawyer Litigation Daily. “And the real-world evidence in this case is unambiguously that New T-Mobile will enhance, not lessen, competition.”
In finding for WilmerHale’s clients, the court relied heavily on the testimony of T-Mobile’s then-CEO, John Legere, and its then-President and current CEO, Mike Sievert—who were questioned by Levin during the trial—finding that the trial evidence “credibly presented by T-Mobile executives” reflected “a company [New T-Mobile] reinforced with a massive infusion of spectrum, capacity, capital, and other resources, and chomping to take on its new market peers and rivals in head-on competition.”
Dual Wins for Harvard Uphold Affirmative Action in Admissions
In October 2019, a federal district court judge in Massachusetts delivered a landmark decision for Harvard University and its WilmerHale legal team. After a closely watched 15-day bench tried conducted almost a year earlier, the district court concluded that Harvard does not unlawfully discriminate against Asian Americans and that the university’s consideration of race in its undergraduate admissions process is narrowly tailored to achieve its compelling interest in diversity. In November 2020, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld the lawfulness of Harvard’s race-conscious admissions program, affirming the reasoning and judgment of the district court on every point.
This high-profile matter, which generated explosive headlines, began in November 2014, when an organization called Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. (SFFA), founded by a conservative activist, filed suit against Harvard, challenging the consideration of race in undergraduate admissions. SFFA claimed that the Harvard College Admissions Office discriminated against Asian Americans, highlighting a purported bias against one minority group to further its larger goal of eliminating affirmative action altogether.
WilmerHale Partners Felicia Ellsworth (pictured), William Lee and Seth Waxman led the team that represented Harvard at trial. The team presented testimony from 13 current and former Harvard employees, including then-Harvard University President Drew Faust, as well as expert witnesses and eight Harvard students of diverse backgrounds, who spoke powerfully about the importance of diversity on campus.
SFFA put up no fact witnesses and presented only the testimony of its two expert witnesses. The organization’s failure to offer testimony or evidence of even a single applicant purportedly harmed by Harvard’s consideration of race was conspicuous, the judge later noted in her decision, which was widely hailed by administrators and scholars at colleges and universities across the United States.
SFFA appealed, and Waxman—WilmerHale’s Appellate and Supreme Court Practice Chair—argued the case before the First Circuit, securing another decisive win for Harvard. On October 31, 2022, Waxman presented oral argument for Harvard at the Supreme Court, the matter is currently pending.
Agile Trial Response for Intel Defeats $2 Billion Patent Suit
The quick thinking of first chair trial lawyers William Lee and Joseph Mueller (pictured) led to a savings of almost $2 billion for client Intel after a six-day federal jury trial in Delaware over microprocessor circuits. The founder of non-practicing entity AVM Technologies, Joseph Tran, was in court for his second attempt to win patent infringement damages from Intel over claims that had been dismissed two years earlier. Back with a fresh suit containing similar claims—along with hedge fund backing and a high-powered trial team—Tran and AVM were now claiming damages that, at $2 billion, represented unusually high stakes even for technology leader Intel.
Just four days before trial, the court knocked out AVM’s astronomical damages claim, granting in full a Daubert motion that had been filed by the WilmerHale team four months earlier to exclude the plaintiff’s expert testimony on damages. The judge’s decision, while favorable, was a surprise—one that forced a rethinking of the trial plan.
Facing a complicated set of facts and armed with eight separate defense theories, the team, now fighting a suit worth approximately $3.5 million, decided to pare back their defenses to just three, with only one focused on non-infringement. Instead, they zeroed in on an explication of how Intel had developed microprocessor technology that actually aimed to achieve the opposite of what AVM’s patent claimed to do.
At trial, Lee was also able to reveal information previously ruled out by the judge: Tran’s hedge fund backing. During cross-examination, Tran testified that he had mortgaged his house to pursue the case, opening the door to the issue of funding and allowing Lee to press hard to get Tran to reveal that AVM had partnered with a third-party litigation funder. With Tran’s David-and-Goliath portrayal subverted, the jury delivered a clean sweep, finding no infringement on all eight asserted claims and vindicating Intel and its engineers.