Biography

Christopher Wheeler litigates high-stakes, complex civil cases with a focus on antitrust.

The editor-in-chief of the leading California antitrust treatise, California Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law, Chris represents both defendants and plaintiffs in class and competitor cases.  He currently is representing defendants, including two Fortune 50 companies, in multiple antitrust class actions in federal court. 

In the landmark antitrust class action against Sutter Health, the dominant hospital system in Northern California, Chris led the Farella team that, along with the California Attorney General and co-counsel, obtained a $575,000,000 settlement and historic injunctive relief on behalf of a certified class of California employers, government entities, and union trusts.  The settlement represents the largest all-cash settlement in the history of California state court.  Chris received the American Antitrust Institute’s Outstanding Antitrust Litigation Achievement in Private Law Practice award for his work on Sutter.

State attorneys general across the nation have recognized Chris’s antitrust expertise, retaining him in connection with both merger and conduct cases.  The Rhode Island Attorney General retained Chris to lead the antitrust investigation of the $4 billion merger between the two largest health systems in Rhode Island.  Following the Attorney General’s administrative decision denying the merger, the transacting parties abandoned the proposed transaction.

Named a “California Lawyer Attorney of the Year” by the Daily Journal, Chris has demonstrated his commitment to obtaining the best possible results for his clients in a broad range of civil litigation matters over more than two decades of practice.  He successfully defended a leading Silicon Valley fintech company in a patent license arbitration against a competitor—backed by one of the world’s largest private equity firms—that was seeking tens of millions of dollars in unpaid royalties.  Following three years of litigation and an evidentiary hearing lasting 25 days, the arbitrator sanctioned the competitor for more than it recovered in unpaid royalties.  In a recent nine-figure LLC dispute Chris handled, the cross-defendant settled for less than 0.8% of claimed damages days before trial.

Chris brings an economics and market regulation background to his antitrust and complex litigation practice.  During the 2008-2009 U.S. financial crisis, Chris served as vice president and deputy director of the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation, where he led one of the first investigations into the regulatory failures contributing to the crisis.  He began his career at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Chris has prosecuted and tried to verdict a number of criminal cases as a “loaner” Assistant District Attorney in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.  As a Bar Association of San Francisco’s Federal Pro Bono Project participant, Chris maintains an active pro bono practice.  He has represented an indigent family in an unlawful detainer action, a victim of elder abuse, and a family-run business in an ERISA action.  Chris also has won political asylum for refugee families, including a Laotian Hmong veteran of the CIA “secret army” and his wife and three generations of survivors of the Liberian civil war.

Chris is a member of the Executive Committee of the Antitrust and Unfair Competition Section of the California Lawyers Association.  He is chair of the Antitrust and Business Regulation Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco.  Chris serves on the Executive Committee of the Harvard Law School Association and is a past president of the Harvard Law School Association of Northern California.  At Farella, he serves on the New Business and Partnership Admissions committees.

Distinctions

  • California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year (CLAY) Award, Daily Journal (2022)

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Member, Executive Committee, Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law Section, California Lawyers Association
  • Chair, Antitrust and Business Regulation Section, Bar Association of San Francisco (2024)
  • Editor-in-Chief, California Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law (2024)
  • Member, Executive Committee, Antitrust and Business Regulation Section, Bar Association of San Francisco
  • Member, Executive Committee, Harvard Law School Association
  • Immediate Past President, Harvard Law School Association of Northern California
  • Member, Antitrust Practice Group, American Health Law Association
  • Member, Antitrust Law Section, American Bar Association
  • Member, Litigation Section Executive Committee, Bar Association of San Francisco (2016-2017)

Firm Highlights

Publication

REFRESH: Loot and Private Foundation Rules – Part 1

Welcome to  EO Radio Show - Your Nonprofit Legal Resource . In this episode, I'm happy to refresh  EO Radio Show  episode 21, the first of our two episodes exploring private foundation rules using the...

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News

Housing Action Coalition and Farella Braun + Martel File Lawsuit Challenging the City of San Mateo’s Housing Element

Today, the Housing Action Coalition (HAC) and Farella Braun + Martel LLP filed a lawsuit against the City of San Mateo, challenging its recently adopted Housing Element in order to make the city comply with...

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Publication

No Three-Year Bar on Copyright Damages (For Now): SCOTUS Issues Opinion in Warner Chappell Music, Inc. et al. v. Sherman Nealy et al.

In a 6-3 majority decision in Warner Chappell Music, Inc. et al. v. Sherman Nealy et al. , the Supreme Court held that the Copyright Act entitles a copyright owner to recover damages for any...

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News

City of San Mateo Sued by Nonprofit Over New Housing Plan

Tom Mayhew spoke to CBS News about the lawsuit filed by Housing Action Coalition (HAC) and Farella against the City of San Mateo. The lawsuit challenges the city's recently adopted Housing Element in order to...

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News

Farella Advises TILT Holdings Inc. on $10.5M Loan Transaction

Northern California legal powerhouse Farella Braun + Martel advised TILT Holdings Inc. , a global provider of cannabis business solutions, and its Pennsylvania subsidiary, grower and processor Standard Farms, on a $10.5 million loan transaction...

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Event

21st Annual Stanford Digital Economy Best Practices Conference

Erik Olson is speaking at the 21st Annual Stanford Digital Economy Best Practices Conference for the session "Track A: Content Moderation." To register for the event, please click  here .

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Publication

A New Overtime Threshold Takes Effect in Mere Weeks: HR Should Assess Its Impact Now

On April 23, 2024, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued its final rule increasing the minimum pay requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for various exempt “white-collar” employee categories beginning on...

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News

San Mateo signed off on its housing element this week. It's already facing a lawsuit.

Farella's Tom Mayhew, CJ Higley, Daniel Contreras, Vanessa Ing, and Alyssa Netto were mentioned in the Daily Journal article "San Mateo signed off on its housing element this week. It's already facing a lawsuit."...

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Publication

Navigating California Wage Statement Penalties After Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc.

On May 6, 2024, the California Supreme Court, in Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc. , clarified that an employer is not liable for statutory penalties for inaccurate wage statements when it had a...

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Publication

REFRESH: Loot and Private Foundation Rules – Part 2

Welcome to  EO Radio Show - Your Nonprofit Legal Resource . In this episode, I refresh  EO Radio Show  episode 22, the second of our two episodes exploring private foundation rules using commentary on the...

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