Michael L. O'Donnell: Lawyer with Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell LLP

Michael L. O'Donnell

Partner and Chairman
Denver,  CO  U.S.A.

Peer Rating
AV® Preeminent

Client Rating

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Experience & Credentials Ratings & Reviews

Practice Areas

  • Class Actions
  • Commercial
  • Legal Malpractice Defense
  • Mass Torts
  • Personal Injury Defense
  • Product Liability
  • Professional Liability
  • Toxic Torts
  • Asbestos
  • Automotive
  • Construction & Engineering
  • Energy
  • Financial Services
  • Healthcare
  • Legal Services
  • Medical Devices & Pharmaceuticals
  • Professional Services
  • Telecommunications
University University of Notre Dame, B.A., English, 1976
Law SchoolUniversity of Denver Sturm College of Law, J.D., 1979 Intern to the Honorable Sherman Finesilver, United States District Court for the District of Colorado
Admitted1980, Colorado; 1992, Wyoming; U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois; U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado; U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; U.S. Supreme Court

Community Memberships, Activities, and Honors
Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell Foundation
Founder and President, 2005-present
Archdiocese of Denver
Finance Council, 2008-present
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
Trial.com 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

Legal Memberships, Activities, and Honors
fellow of American College of Trial Lawyers
Regent, 2012-2016
Regent's Nominating Committee, 2014
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
fellow of International Academy of Trial Lawyers
American Board of Trial Advocates
Law Week Colorado
People's Choice Class Action Defense Lawyer, 2014
Barrister's Best Best Class Action/Mass Tort Defense Lawyer, 2012
Lawyers of the Decade, 2011
Barrister's Best Best Trial Lawyer, 2010
Best Lawyers
Denver Personal Injury Litigation Lawyer of the Year, 2015
Denver Legal Malpractice Lawyer of the Year, 2011, 2014
Denver Product Liability Litigation Lawyer of the Year, 2012-2013
Bet-the-Company Litigation, 2005-2015
Commercial Litigation, 2005-2015
Legal Malpractice Law, 2005-2015
Personal Injury Litigation, 2005-2015
Product Liability Litigation, 2005-2015
Chambers USA
Commercial Litigation - Colorado, 2009-2014
The Legal 500 United States
Litigation: Product Liability and Mass Tort Defense, 2007, 2009-2011, 2013
Benchmark Litigation
Commercial Litigation - Colorado, 2011-2014
Product Liability - Colorado, 2013-2014
Professional Liability - Colorado, 2013-2014
Colorado Super Lawyers
Ranked #1 in Colorado, 2013-2014
Top 10, 2007, 2009-2014
Personal Injury Defense: Products, 2009-2014
Class Action/Mass Torts, 2006-2008
University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Outstanding Alumni Award, 2012
Martindale-Hubbell AV Peer Review Rated
The International Who's Who of Product Liability Defense Lawyers, 2011, 2014
The International Who's Who of Life Sciences Lawyers, 2014
Colorado Trial Lawyers Association
Award for Competency, Ethics, and Professionalism, 2008
The American Lawyer
Top Commercial Litigation Lawyers, 2006
Colorado Corporate Counsel Black Book
Class Action Lawsuits, 2007
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
International Association of Defense Counsel
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
University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Co-Chair of Reunion Committee, 2004
Colorado Judicial Institute
Board of Directors, 2004-present
Judicial Awards Committee, 2006-present
IAALS Law Firm Council
Founding member


Michael O'Donnell is a founder and the chairman of Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell. His national litigation practice focuses on complex civil litigation involving product liability, professional liability, torts, class actions and mass actions, commercial litigation, and bet-the-company matters. Mike has appeared as lead counsel in state and federal courts in 25 states.

Mike has served as national and regional counsel for Fortune 500 companies, including General Electric, Advanced Bionics, McKesson, Boston Scientific, and Pfizer. He represented NBC Universal in a case involving a catastrophic fire at Universal Studios and is national resolution counsel to GE on product liability cases across the country.

A fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, Mike served as the chairman of its Colorado chapter for two consecutive years and currently serves as the Regent for the 10th Circuit. He was also elected a fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and to the American Board of Trial Advocates. Mike is a former chairman of The Network of Trial Law Firms, a 7,000-member lawyer organization that offers continuing legal education programs on litigation topics.

Colorado Super Lawyers has ranked Mike the number one lawyer in Colorado for two years in a row (2013 and 2014) based on a survey of his peers, and he has been named to its top 10 list every year since 2009. Best Lawyers lists Mike in five litigation practice areas and named him Denver Legal Malpractice Lawyer of the Year for 2011 and Denver Product Liability Litigation Lawyer of the Year for 2012 and 2013. In 2011, Law Week Colorado selected Mike as one of 10 Lawyers of the Decade 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 DU 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.

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

Representative Clients

Advanced Bionics - National Trial Counsel

Boston Scientific - National Trial Counsel


Crown Equipment

General Electric - National Resolution Counsel

General Electric - National Trial Counsel

Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance

Guidant - National Trial Counsel

High net-worth individuals

Lawyers and Law Firms



Managing a Large Casualty Claim, presented at the Advisen Casualty Insights Conference in New York City (March 27, 2014)

Avoiding Missteps in Handling Litigation and Other Disputes, presented to the Association of Corporate Counsel Colorado Chapter (Dec. 5, 2012)

The Trial of a Legal Malpractice Case, presented at the Aon Law Firm Symposium (Oct. 12, 2012)

Unique Issues in Mass Torts, presented at University of Denver Sturm College of Law (Nov. 7, 2011)

Negotiation, presented to MBA students at McGill University (Oct. 12, 2011)

The Nuts and Bolts of Successor Liability, presented to CNA (Feb. 10, 2011)

Ethics CLE: Avoiding Malpractice, University of Denver Alumni Weekend (Oct. 14, 2010)

Settlement Negotiation Strategies, Continuing Legal Education Seminar (May 2010)

Strategic Management, University of Colorado at Denver MBA Program (Feb. 2010)

Deposition Strategy 101, Colorado Defense Lawyers Association CLE Seminar (Dec. 4, 2009)

Leadership and Strategic Management, presented to University of Colorado MBA Students (Dec. 1, 2009)

Leadership, University of Colorado at Denver MBA Program (Dec. 1, 2009)

Preventing Legal Malpractice, Potential Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them, Colorado Bar Association Continuing Legal Education Seminar (Multiple dates 2009-2013)

Managing Product Liability in the Americas, quoted in Financier Worldwide (Sept. 2009)

Alternative Dispute Resolution, presented to CNA (Mar. 2008)

Appellate Update on Colorado Law, presented to All Colorado State Court Trial and Appellate Judges (Sept. 2007)

What In-House Counsel Want and How to Give It to Them, presented at The Network of Trial Law Firms (Apr. 20, 2007)

Selecting Outside Trial Counsel, presented to Association of Corporate Counsel Colorado Chapter (Mar. 21, 2007)

Selection of Outside Counsel, presented at The Network of Trial Law Firms (Apr. 29, 2006)

Pharmaceutical Torts Cases in Colorado, presented at Colorado Bar Association and Denver Bar Association CLE Ethical Consideration for Practitioners (Nov. 3, 2005)

Punitive Damages, presented at The Network of Trial Law Firms (Oct. 23, 2004)

Punitive Damages, presented at 27th Annual Conference of Colorado Defense Lawyers Association (Aug. 20, 2004)

Campbell v. State Farm, presented at The Network of Trial Law Firms' Meeting (Apr. 2003)

Colorado Civil Justice League Legislative Panel, presented in conjunction with the American Tort Reform Association Annual Legislative Conference for State Coalition Leaders and Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (Nov. 14, 2002)

Non-Liability to Non-Participants: A Manufacturer's Duty Should End at the Playing Field, and Not Extend to Criminal Acts, Mealey's Prod. Liab. & Risk, Aug. 29, 2002

Behold the Future: Emerging Areas Including Mold, Cellular Phones, MTBE, Chromium 6, and More, presented at The Future of Mass Tort Litigation in America (Mar. 23, 2002)

Ethics and Professionalism in Client Relations, presented at University of Denver Law School (Nov. 12, 2001)

Challenging the Admissibility of Medical Causation Opinion Derived From 'Differential Diagnosis - Application of Daubert and Amended FRE 702', presented at The Network of Trial Law Firms (Oct. 26, 2001)

Winning by Disqualifying Plaintiff's Experts, presented at The Network of Trial Law Firms (Oct. 25, 2001)

Preventing Legal Malpractice, presented at Colorado Bar Association CLE Seminar and Torts Update (Oct. 9, 1998)

Colorado Legal Malpractice, presented to 1998 Colorado Bar Association Tort Law Update (1998)

Winning the Battle of the Experts, presented at Professional Education Systems Inc. (Dec. 16, 1996)

Discovery, presented at Colorado Defense Lawyers Association (Aug. 27, 1994)

Depositions: Strategies, Tactics and Mechanics, presented at Professional Education Systems Inc. (Nov. 11, 1992)

Discovery Tactics: Drawing the Line Between 'Clever' and 'Unfair', presented at Professional Education Systems Inc. (Feb. 7, 1992)

Deposition Program, presented at National Institute for Trial Advocacy (Dec. 4, 1991)

Course on Professional Responsibility, presented at BAR-BRI (Jan. 21, 1988) (Chairman)

Reported CasesCases; Won a complete defense jury verdict in federal court for a large international law firm accused of malpractice. The plaintiff hired WTO's client to resolve a complex patent infringement matter, then sued the firm for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. Represent a Fortune 10 company as national resolution counsel in hundreds of cases involving a medical imaging contrast agent alleged to induce a rare disease. Represent a medical device company as national coordinating and trial counsel for the defense of product liability lawsuits involving a Class III medical device used to treat hearing loss. Represented a Fortune 500 company as national trial counsel for hundreds of product liability claims and lawsuits involving a Class II medical device used to treat abdominal aortic aneurysms. Obtained summary judgment from a Texas district court in a case alleging WTO's client, a life insurance company, committed fraud and violated consumer protection laws. Obtained a Rule 12(b) dismissal of a complaint filed in federal court in Missouri against a large international law firm. The plaintiffs ultimately obtained an eight-figure jury verdict against the remaining defendants in the case. Secured a ruling from a California appeals court affirming the preemption of claims brought against WTO's client Guidant for its abdominal stent medical device. Obtained a Rule 12(b) dismissal of a malpractice case against five lawyers. The opposing party appealed the dismissal and, while the appeal was pending, the case settled with no payments being made by WTO's clients. Obtained summary judgment for a law firm client and an award of attorneys' fees in a legal malpractice case in which the plaintiff sought $7 million in damages. The plaintiff appealed the award of attorneys' fees, and the parties settled the appeal with payments being made to the client. Obtained partial summary judgment in federal court on behalf of 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. Represented the Vancouver Canucks organization in a lawsuit brought by Colorado Avalanche player Steven Moore as a result of injuries sustained by Mr. Moore during a hockey game. WTO successfully obtained a dismissal of the lawsuit on the grounds of lack of personal jurisdiction and forum non conveniens, and also obtained an award of attorney's fees and costs in favor of the Canucks organization and against Mr. Moore. Moore v. Bertuzzi, The Vancouver Canucks Hockey Club et al. Awarded complete summary judgment in a legal malpractice case one week before a two-week trial was scheduled to begin. The plaintiff had sought over $5 million in damages. Defended AT&T Wireless in a nationwide class action in Colorado state court involving the billing of wireless air time. Vastano v. AT&T Wireless Class Action.

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Office Information

Michael L. O'Donnell

370 Seventeenth Street, Suite 4500
DenverCO 80202-5647


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