Christopher Wheeler is a trial lawyer and civil litigator.
In the landmark antitrust class action against Sutter Health, the largest hospital system in Northern California, Chris led the Farella team that, along with co-counsel and the California Attorney General, obtained a recovery of $575 million and historic injunctive relief on behalf of a certified class of California corporations, government entities, and union trusts. After more than five years of litigation, including an unsuccessful interlocutory appeal by Sutter (see UFCW & Employers Benefit Trust v. Sutter Health et al., 241 Cal. App. 4th 909 (2015)), Sutter settled following jury selection. The Sutter case marks the first time a California court has certified a class in a hospital services antitrust action. Plaintiffs have moved for preliminary approval by the San Francisco Superior Court.
Chris’ 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 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. Chris’ 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, Chris analyzed sovereign risk at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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)