Christopher Wheeler is a trial lawyer and business litigator. He has tried and arbitrated a variety of complex commercial disputes and criminal actions, with a focus on antitrust, securities, and securities enforcement matters.
In his antitrust practice, Chris is counsel for a class of self-funded payors overcharged for years by the most dominant healthcare provider in Northern California. Plaintiffs have defeated every attempt by defendants to forestall trial by a San Francisco jury, including defeating defendants’ motion to compel arbitration (affirmed by the First District Court of Appeal in UFCW & Employers Benefit Trust v. Sutter Health et al., 241 Cal. App. 4th 909 (2015)) and defendants’ demurrer. In August 2017, the San Francisco Superior Court granted plaintiffs’ motion for class certification.
In his securities practice, Chris has represented officers, directors, and investment advisors in SEC, FINRA, and Department of Business Oversight investigations and enforcement actions. He has also represented investment advisors, banks, and individuals in private securities actions. His clients in the financial technology space have included the industry leader in digital couponing as well as a global digital currency exchange. Before joining Farella, Chris served as vice president and deputy director of the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation, where he conducted one of the first investigations into the regulatory failures contributing to the U.S. financial crisis. Previously, he analyzed sovereign risk at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Chris's trial and litigation experience is varied. He successfully defended a leading Silicon Valley 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. Chris has also prosecuted and tried to verdict a number of criminal cases as a “loaner” Assistant District Attorney in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. His jury verdicts have been upheld on appeal. People v. Alcauter-Martinez, App. No. 15-008044, slip op. (S.F. Super. Ct. App. Div. Mar. 5, 2018).
In his pro bono practice, Chris has represented indigent tenants in unlawful detainer actions and victims of elder abuse. He has also won political asylum for refugee families, including a Laotian Hmong veteran of the CIA “secret army” and three generations of survivors of the Liberian civil war.
Memberships and Affiliations
- President, Harvard Law School Association of Northern California
- Member, Litigation Section Executive Committee, Bar Association of San Francisco (2016-2017)