Biography

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)

Firm Highlights

Publication

California's AB5 Codifies Stricter Rules for Independent Contractors - What Employers Need to Know

On September 18, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law AB5, codifying the ABC test for distinguishing employees from independent contractors and expanding its application beyond California’s Wage Orders. While AB5 does not...

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Event

Litigating Civil and Criminal Trade Secret Cases: Trends, Best Practices, and Lessons Learned

Trade secret litigation is on the rise, both civil litigation and follow-on criminal prosecution for trade secret theft. Companies are grappling with how to protect their valuable information and minimize risk in their technological...

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Publication

3 Lessons For Calif. Insureds From Late-Notice Rule Decision

In Pitzer College v. Indian Harbor Insurance Company,[1] the California Supreme Court resolved two previously open questions in insurance law: (1) it concluded that the notice-prejudice rule[2] is a fundamental public policy of California...

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Publication

How Napa County Seeks to Streamline the Winery Permit Process

Recently, local members of the wine industry in the Napa County area of Northern California have been actively engaged with county government in discussions regarding ways to streamline the winery use permit process. Frustrated with...

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News

Ninth Circuit Upholds Data Miner's Injunction Against LinkedIn

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit sided with data analytics company hiQ Labs, Inc. and upheld an injunction barring LinkedIn from blocking it from accessing information made publicly available by the professional networking site’s users...

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Event

Complex Civil Litigation Symposium

Doug Dexter is a member of the planning committee for the 2019 Complex Civil Litigation Symposium.

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Event

CalCPA: Wine Industry Conference

Lauren Gilbreth will present the session "Succession Planning" at the CalCPA - Wine Industry Conference. The ever dynamic wine industry is fraught with complicated tax, labor and accounting issues. Please join us as we...

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News

Kelly Matayoshi Installed as President of UC Hastings College of the Law Alumni Association Board of Governors

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Publication

Facebook Suspends Apps That Scrape Data From Its Platform Following Cambridge Analytica Scandal

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News

Farella Braun + Martel Advises on Sale of 2,300-Acre Foote Ranch

Farella Braun + Martel represented a trust that owned 50% of the iconic 2,300-acre Foote Ranch in Sonoma, California in disputes with the ranch’s co-owners and in the subsequent $23.7 million sale of the...

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