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Michael L. O'Donnell

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Products Liability Attorney in Denver, CO

Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell LLP
370 Seventeenth Street, Suite 4500
Denver, CO 80202
Phone: 303-244-1850
Fax: 303-244-1879
Selected to Super Lawyers: 2006 - 2022
Licensed in Colorado Since: 1980
Practice Areas: Personal Injury - Products: Defense, Class Action/Mass Torts: Defense, Professional Liability: Defense
Attorney Profile

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 40 states, and he has served as national trial and resolution counsel for numerous highly visible companies, including General Electric, Michelin North America, Advanced Bionics, McKesson, Boston Scientific, Guidant, Skyjack, and Pfizer. 

A Fellow and Officer of the American College of Trial Lawyers, Mike also served as Regent for the 10th Circuit from 2012 to 2016. He also served as chairman of the ACTL's Colorado chapter. He is a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and member of 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.

Chambers USA ranks Mike nationwide for product liability and mass torts defense. Colorado Super Lawyers has ranked Mike the number-one lawyer in Colorado for six years in a row (2013-2018) based on independent research and a survey of his peers--a feat no other Colorado lawyer has accomplished--and he has been named to its top 10 list every year since 2009. Best Lawyers lists Mike in seven litigation practice areas and named him "Denver Legal Malpractice Lawyer of the Year" for 2017 and 2011, and "Denver Product Liability Litigation Lawyer of the Year" for 2013 and 2012. In 2011, Law Week Colorado selected Mike as one of 10 "Lawyers of the Decade" and "Lawyer of the Year" 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 University of Denver 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. 

Practice Areas
  • 40%Personal Injury - Products: Defense
  • 30%Class Action/Mass Torts: Defense
  • 30%Professional Liability: Defense
Focus Areas

Medical Devices, Pharmaceutical, Class Actions, Asbestos, Toxic Torts, Legal Malpractice, Professional Malpractice - Other


17 Years Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers: 2006 - 2022

Articles about Michael L. O'Donnell appearing in Super Lawyers

About Michael L. O'Donnell

First Admitted: 1980, Colorado

Professional Webpage:

Representative Clients

  • Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance
  • General Electric - National Trial Counsel
  • City & County of Denver
  • Dish Network
  • Fresenius - National Counsel
  • Skyjack
  • Michelin North America, Inc. - National Trial & Resolution Counsel
  • Advanced Bionics - National Trial Counsel
  • Boston Scientific - National Trial Counsel
  • Crown Equipment - Regional Trial Counsel
  • Guidant - National Trial Counsel
  • Level 3 Communications
  • Denver International Airport
  • CoorsTek


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dukes v. Michelin - Won a complete defense jury verdict for Michelin following a nine-week trial in Florida in which the plaintiffs requested damages in excess of $80 million. WTO attorneys demonstrated that Michelin's tire was not defective, was well-designed and well-manufactured, and had been previously damaged during its service life. The jury found Michelin not liable for the accident, 2016
  • Represent a Fortune 5 company as national resolution counsel in hundreds of cases involving a medical imaging contrast agent alleged to induce a rare disease.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Represent lawyers and law firms throughout the United States in defending legal malpractice claims.
  • Obtained dismissal of RICO and conspiracy claims brought against a prominent east coast law firm and one of its partners in U.S.D.C. for the Western District of Missouri.
  • Auto-Owners v. Summit Park, 886 F.3d 852 and 886 F.3d 863 (10th Cir. 2018) - Won complete affirmance in the Tenth Circuit of landmark rulings governing insurance appraisals. In two published opinions, the Tenth Circuit affirmed trial court rulings vacating an eight-figure appraisal award against the client, disqualifying for bias a national policyholder appraiser, and sanctioning the policyholder and its lawyers for misconduct in connection with the appraisal, 2018

Scholarly Lectures/Writings

  • National Institute for Trial Advocacy, Lecturer
  • University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Guest Lecturer
  • University of Colorado at Denver, MBA Program, Guest Lecturer
  • Association of Corporate Counsel: Negotiating the Pay Raise, May, 2016
  • "Witness Preparation Primer: Inviting a Witness to Provide Truthful and Favorable Testimony," Mastering the Art of Preparing Witnesses, 2017
  • Co-authored "New Strategies for Defending Professional Liability and Malpractice Cases." Best Practices for Addressing Professional Liability Claims, 2015
  • "Settling Strategies for MDLs: Getting Started, Setting Values, and Overcoming Obstacles," presented at the Mass Torts Judicial Forum in New York City, April, 2016
  • "Dollars and $ense Negotiating the Pay Raise - Practical Advice from the Decision-Makers" presented at the Association of Corporate Counsel Colorado Chapter CLE and reception, May, 2016
  • "Dealing with Collusion and Fraud in Property Loss Litigation," Litigation Management in a New York Minute - 2016 Edition, presented by The Network of Trial Law Firms, New York, NY, August, 2016
  • "What the Hail? Exposing Biased Insurance Appraisers," presented at the 28th Annual ACIC General Counsel Seminar Survey, July, 2017
  • Book Chapter, "Deconstructing the Key Liability Expert: Strategy and Secrets for Successful Cross-Examination," From the Trenches: Strategies and Tips From 21 of the Nation's Top Trial Lawyers, 2015
  • "The Defense Perspective: How Loss Prevention and Firm Management Practices Can Impact Malpractice Claims," presented at an Ethics CLE at Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell, November, 2014
  • "Avoiding Missteps in Handling Litigation and Other Disputes," presented to the Association of Corporate Counsel Colorado Chapter, December, 2012
  • "The Trial of a Legal Malpractice Case," presented at the Aon Law Firm Symposium, October , 2012

Bar/Professional Activity

  • Colorado Bar Association, Member, Board of Governors
  • Defense Research Institute, Member, Professional Liability Committee
  • Colorado Defense Lawyers Association
  • University of Denver Sturm College of Law; Co-Chair of Reunion Committee, 2004
  • American Board of Trial Advocates, Member
  • Denver Bar Association, Vice President, Board of Trustees
  • American Bar Foundation, Fellow
  • Judge William E. Doyle American Inn of Court, Master
  • USDC Colorado Committee on Conduct, 2012
  • IAALS Law Firm Council, Founding member
  • The Network of Trial Law Firms, Chairman, 2005-2006
  • American Bar Association - Chairman, Issues Affecting the Legal Profession; Young Lawyers Section Liaison to Standing Committee on Professional Discipline
  • International Association of Defense Counsel
  • Colorado Judicial Institute - Board of Directors, 2004-present; Judicial Awards Committee, 2006-present
  • Colorado Bar Foundation, Fellow

Pro bono/Community Service

  • Denver Tennis Club, Board of Directors
  • Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Denver, Board Member, 2010-present
  • Foundation, Inc., President, 2005-2006
  • American Heart Association of Colorado, Denver Metro Division, Chairman of the Board
  • Hundred Club of Denver, Member
  • Archdiocese of Denver,  Finance Council, 2008-2013
  • Walking for Kids, Founding Member, Board of Directors, 2009-present
  • American Heart Association of Colorado and Wyoming, Chairman of the Board
  • The Village Club, President
  • Founder and President, Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell Foundation, 2005-present
  • Denver Police Foundation, Board of Directors, 2004-present
  • The Catholic Foundation, Board of Directors, Advancement Committee, 2004-2005

Educational Background

  • University of Notre Dame, B.A. in English, 1976


  • Law Week Colorado - Lawyer of the Year, 2016"Barrister's Best" Best Overall Litigator, 2015; "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, 2016
  • Chambers USA - Product Liability - Nationwide, 2015-2018; Commercial Litigation - Colorado, 2009-2018
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV® Peer Review Rated
  • The American Lawyer, Top Commercial Litigation Lawyers, 2006
  • Fellow of International Academy of Trial Lawyers
  • Best Lawyers - Denver Personal Injury Litigation Lawyer of the Year, 2015, 2018; Denver Product Liability Litigation Lawyer of the Year, 2019, 2012-2013; Denver Legal Malpractice Lawyer of the Year, 2011, 2014, 2017; Bet-the-Company Litigation, 2005-2019; Commercial Litigation, 2005-2019; Legal Malpractice Law, 2005-2019; Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions, 2017-2019; Personal Injury Litigation, 2005-2019; Product Liability Litigation, 2005-2019; Professional Malpractice Law, 2017-2019, 2019
  • Benchmark Litigation - Commercial Litigation - Colorado, 2011-2015; Product Liability - Colorado, 2013-2015; Professional Liability - Colorado, 2013-2015
  • The International Who's Who of Product Liability Defense Lawyers, 2011, 2014-2017
  • 5280 Magazine -  Top Lawyer Personal Injury Defense, 2016-2017; Civil Litigation, 2016-2017; Commercial Litigation, 2017, 2017
  • Fellow of American College of Trial Lawyers - Secretary, 2018-2019; Regent, 2012-2016; Regent Liaison for ACTL Task Force on Discovery and Civil Justice, 2013-2015; Sandra Day O'Connor Award Committee, 2013-2015; Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Committee, 2013-2015; 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
  • The Legal 500 United States, Litigation: Product Liability and Mass Tort Defense, 2007, 2009-2011, 2013
  • University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Outstanding Alumni Award, 2012
  • Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, Award for Competency, Ethics, and Professionalism, 2008
  • The International Who's Who of Life Sciences Lawyers, 2014, 2017

Industry Groups

  • Asbestos
  • Automotive
  • Construction & Engineering
  • Energy
  • Financial Services
  • Healthcare
  • Legal Services
  • Medical Devices & Pharmaceuticals
  • Oil & Gas
  • Professional Services
  • Telecommunications
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Office Location for Michael L. O'Donnell

370 Seventeenth Street
Suite 4500
Denver, CO 80202

Phone: 303-244-1850

Fax: 303-244-1879

Last Updated: 5/15/2022

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