Malcolm Wheeler is a founding partner of Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP in Denver, Colorado. He has specialized in civil litigation, especially the defense of complex and pattern product liability litigation, consumer class actions, and antitrust, contract, patent, trademark, and unfair competition cases. He is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, in the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, and has been one of the trial lawyers in several high-profile cases, including the defense of Howard Hughes in the Maheu libel suit against Mr. Hughes, the defense of Ford Motor Company in the Pinto criminal prosecution, the defense of the first “no-airbag” product liability trial, and the defense of the damages phase of the
intermittent windshield wiper patent litigation. He has tried cases to verdict in fourteen states; appeared in trial courts in more than 40 states; and briefed and argued cases in the United States Supreme Court and other federal and state appellate courts throughout the nation. He has served as Chief Counsel to the United States Senate Select Committee on Undercover Operations of the Department of Justice and as a Professor of Law at the University of Iowa and the University of Kansas. He received an S.B. degree in 1966 from M.I.T. and a J.D. degree in 1969 from the Stanford Law School.
Gray v. Ford Motor Co. (Cal. Super. Ct. 2007) — When I entered as lead trial counsel, the court had certified a state-wide class of hundreds of thousands of owners of 1991-2001 Explorers on a theory of diminished value caused by an alleged defect. Plaintiffs sought more than $2 billion at a time when the company had severe financial problems. After a several-month trial, Plaintiffs settled a nationwide class on the day of closing arguments for certificates that cost the company less than $74,000.
Geier v. American Honda Motor Co., 529 U.S. 861 (2000) — This was the first case in which the Supreme Court held any product-liability claim preempted by the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 and the regulations promulgated under it by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It has been the basis of many subsequent preemption rulings in a variety of areas.
State of Indiana v. Ford Motor Co. (1980) — This was the Pinto criminal case in which Ford was accused of reckless homicide. In essence, the state sought to criminalize ordinary product-liability law. At the time the New York Times called it the most important economic case of the century.