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Beth Wilkinson

Partner

Beth has been lead counsel in over 50 jury trials, including numerous bet-the-company, multi-billion dollar cases. Over almost 30 years, she has developed an unrivaled record of victories in both federal and state courts throughout the country. Her career has taken Beth from the Army to a leading role in the prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombers to nationally recognized work as a litigation partner at two of the nation’s most prominent law firms, and most recently to founding Wilkinson Stekloff.

Beth is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a member of American Law Institute (ALI), and a Legal 500 Leading Trial Lawyer. She has been named a Litigator of the Year by The American Lawyer, a Law360 Trial Ace and Trial MVP, and A National Law Journal Winning Litigator.  Beth also serves on the Board of Directors of the Washington Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

In addition, Chambers and Partners has repeatedly named Beth a national Star Trial Lawyer and recently honored Beth for her “Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession.”  Chambers described Beth as  “smart and strategically brilliant—a phenomenal trial lawyer” who is recognized by her clients and colleagues as a “real powerhouse, a trial guru.”  Others call her “the best litigator in the DC market, period” and “a go-to person for any trial you could have.”


Education

  • Undergraduate: Princeton University, B.A., magna cum laude.
  • Law: University of Virginia School of Law, J.D.

Notable Matters

  • Lead trial counsel for former pharmaceutical executive charged with participating in a criminal RICO conspiracy through a nine-week, nationally-reported jury trial that included testimony from more than forty witnesses. The appeal is pending.
  • Lead trial counsel for Bayer in the multi-district litigation in Louisiana involving the blood-thinner Xarelto, and in the first state-court bellwether trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Obtained complete defense verdicts in two MDL bellwether trials, in each case within an hour or two after delivering closing arguments, and judgment for Bayer notwithstanding a jury verdict in the plaintiff’s favor in the state-court bellwether.
  • Lead trial counsel for Philip Morris USA in two consumer class actions involving Light cigarettes and multi-billion-dollar damage claims. Plaintiffs claimed that Philip Morris’s use of the terms “Lights” and “Lowered Tar and Nicotine” violated Missouri state law by suggesting that Marlboro Lights, the nation’s best-selling cigarettes, were not as dangerous as Marlboro full-flavored cigarettes. After a three-week trial, the St. Louis jury rendered a complete defense verdict in less than 30 minutes.
  • Lead trial counsel for Georgia-Pacific in a multi-billion-dollar class action in Chicago federal court alleging Sherman Act violations by the largest manufacturers in the containerboard and corrugated products industries. The court granted summary judgment for Georgia-Pacific one day after it had preliminarily approved a settlement in which the company’s co-defendants agreed to pay over $350 million.
  • Lead trial counsel for the NCAA in lawsuits brought by current and former student-athletes challenging, under the Sherman Act, NCAA rules limiting the level of athletics-based financial aid and benefits that student-athletes may receive. The Court’s opinion reaffirmed the procompetitive value of the NCAA’s rules limiting pay for student-athletes while enjoining certain limitations on benefits that student-athletes may receive. An appeal is pending.
  • Lead trial counsel for the NFL in a national antitrust MDL lawsuit brought by putative class members challenging the League’s broadcast arrangement for its Sunday Ticket Package. The District Court dismissed all of Plaintiffs’ claims, with prejudice. The Ninth Circuit subsequently reversed that decision, and the case remains on appeal.
  • Lead trial counsel in ZeniMax Media et al. v. Oculus VR et al., on behalf of Facebook, Oculus VR, and individual defendants in a federal jury trial in the Northern District of Texas. Plaintiffs sought $6 billion in damages based on allegations that the defendants improperly used its trade secrets and other intellectual property in designing the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Obtained a defense verdict for Facebook and a partial defense verdict for the remaining defendants, including the jury’s rejection of plaintiffs’ lead claim of trade secret misappropriation. Wilkinson Stekloff’s post-trial briefing persuaded the court to sanction plaintiffs withholding evidence and prevented them from recovering $40 million in attorneys’ fees.
  • Lead trial counsel for Pfizer in the first two cases ever tried (in St. Louis and Philadelphia state courts) in the national litigation alleging that the company failed to warn its anti-depressant medicine Zoloft causes birth defects. Obtained complete defense verdicts in both cases.
  • Lead trial counsel for Kynetic and Michael Rubin in an action by the founders of the flash sale site, Rue La La alleging that the company and its CEO conspired with eBay to deprive them of the value of their company. Obtained a complete defense verdict.
  • Lead trial counsel in a multi-billion-dollar securities class action in the Southern District of New York. After ten years of litigation, obtained a complete dismissal of the case based on a successful Daubert motion on the eve of trial.
  • Lead trial counsel for Philip Morris USA in two complex fraud and personal injury cases in California state court in Los Angeles. Obtained a complete defense verdict.
  • Lead trial counsel for Major League Baseball in a nationwide antitrust class action in federal court in the Southern District of New York. Eliminated a billion-dollar damages claim on Daubert grounds after an evidentiary hearing.
  • Lead trial counsel for Microsoft in an antitrust case brought by a rival technology inventor. Obtained a favorable settlement on the eve of trial.
  • Hired as outside counsel for the Federal Trade Commission to lead its antitrust investigation of Google Inc. As reported on page one of The New York Times, when the FTC Chairman announced his decision to hire outside counsel due to the importance of the case, he called Beth a “world class litigator.”
  • Lead trial counsel for Pfizer in national product liability litigation for a hormone therapy drug. Obtained four complete defense verdicts in three different jurisdictions.

Clients & Industries

Beth litigates cases of all kinds, including white collar, antitrust, mass tort and product liability, contract, commercial, and class actions. She also represents clients in front of the Department of Justice, Congress, and other government agencies.

Other Activities

Before entering private practice, Beth served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York, counsel to the Deputy Attorney General, and Principal Deputy of the Terrorism and Violent Crime Section. In 1995, the Attorney General selected Beth as one of the prosecutors for U.S. v. McVeigh & Nichols. Beth was the only two-time recipient of the Department of Justice’s highest award.

Prior to her work for the Department of Justice, Beth was a captain in the U.S. Army and served as an assistant to the General Counsel of the Army for Intelligence & Special Operations. At the end of her time in the military, Beth was appointed as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Florida to assist with the prosecution of U. S. v. Manuel Noriega.

Throughout her career, Beth has done pro bono work, served on boards and taught trial advocacy. Beth currently serves on the Board of Directors of Onex, a publicly-owned private equity company. She previously served on the board of Equal Justice Works and was the co-chairman of the Constitution Project’s Death Penalty Initiative. Beth has testified in front of both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate on death penalty issues.

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