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Beth Wilkinson

Partner

Beth has served as lead counsel in over 50 jury trials, including numerous bet-the-company, multibillion-dollar cases. She has developed an unrivaled record of victories in 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 to founding Wilkinson Stekloff.

Most recently, Beth was lead trial counsel for Microsoft in the FTC’s challenge to Microsoft’s $68.79 billion acquisition of Activision — the second-largest merger trial in American history and the biggest involving a technology company. She defeated the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction to stop the transaction after a five-day trial that began less than four weeks after the FTC filed its federal court complaint, and directed all aspects of litigation strategy from the time the acquisition was announced in January 2022, positioning the case for a federal court victory on an unprecedented timetable. The American Lawyer named Beth “Litigator of the Week” and described the firm as “the legal equivalent of an elite special ops unit” for leading the successful defense.

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.” In 2022, Legal 500 inducted Beth into its Hall of Fame. She has been named The American Lawyer “Litigator of the Year,” a Law360 “Trial Ace” and “Trial MVP,” a National Law Journal “Winning Litigator” and “General Litigation Trailblazer,” and one of Washingtonian’s “Most Powerful Women in Washington.”

In addition, Chambers and Partners has repeatedly named Beth a national “Star Trial Lawyer” and recently honored her for her “Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession.” Chambers described Beth as “the best trial lawyer there is,” a “superstar,” and a “lion at the bar,” noting her “supreme advocacy” and “unparalleled experience acting as lead trial counsel.” Beth has also been chosen for Benchmark Litigation’s elite group of the 10 leading women litigators who stand out from its iconic “Top 250 Women in Litigation” list, as well as the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers,” and has been recognized by Benchmark as a “Litigation Star.” She has also appeared on Lawdragon’s “500 Leading Lawyers in America” and “500 Leading Litigators in America” lists, and the Daily Journal’s “National Leading Litigators” list.


Education

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

Notable Matters

  • Lead trial counsel for Microsoft in the FTC’s challenge to Microsoft’s $68.79 billion acquisition of Activision — the second-largest merger trial in American history and the biggest involving a technology company. Defeated the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction to stop the transaction after a five-day trial that began less than two weeks after the FTC filed its federal court complaint. Directed all aspects of litigation strategy from the time the acquisition was announced in January 2022, positioning the case for a federal court victory on an unprecedented timetable, shortly after which the deal closed.
  • 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 is scheduled for trial in 2024.
  • Lead trial counsel for Altria Group, Inc. in an administrative trial related to the FTC’s challenge of Altria’s $12.8 billion minority investment in JUUL Labs. Obtained a full dismissal of claims against Altria by the FTC’s Chief Administrative Law Judge. Also lead counsel for Altria in putative class action antitrust lawsuits pending in the Northern District of California related to the JUUL Labs investment.
  • Lead trial counsel for Bayer in the multi-district litigation involving the blood-thinner Xarelto, and in the first Xarelto state court trial. She obtained complete defense verdicts in two MDL bellwether trials and judgment for Bayer notwithstanding a plaintiff’s verdict, in the state court bellwether.
  • Lead trial counsel defending Altria Group, Inc. and certain of its subsidiaries in the first government entity bellwether trial, brought by the San Francisco Unified School District, in multidistrict litigation arising out of Altria’s minority investment in JUUL Labs, Inc. Just one day after Beth and the Wilkinson Stekloff team completed cross-examinations in plaintiff’s case and the defense case was about to begin, plaintiffs agreed to a global settlement with Altria that resolved the personal injury, consumer class action, and government entity cases brought in over 6,000 e-vapor cases in state and federal courts.
  • Lead trial counsel for a major chemical manufacturer in the Aqueous Film-Forming Foams (AFFF) Products Liability Litigation in the District of South Carolina. The multidistrict litigation, involving alleged PFAS groundwater contamination from the use of AFFF, is considered the most significant PFAS litigation in the country. Directed overall trial strategy in both the MDL and various state courts and was set to serve as lead trial counsel for the manufacturer in the first bellwether trial in the AFFF MDL, which was halted when the remaining parties announced a settlement to end all water-provider claims brought against the manufacturer.
  • Lead trial counsel for Philip Morris USA in consumer class actions on behalf of purchasers of Marlboro Lights. Member of the trial team in the class action tried in state court in St. Louis, seeking billions of dollars on behalf of Missouri purchasers. After a three-week trial, the jury rendered a complete defense verdict in less than 30 minutes.
  • Lead counsel in the firm’s successful representation of federal district Judge Emmet Sullivan in mandamus proceedings before the D.C. Circuit arising out of the criminal case against former White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. After the Department of Justice sought to dismiss Flynn's guilty plea and conviction, Wilkinson Stekloff was hired to defend Judge Sullivan against an effort to prematurely terminate the case. The D.C. Circuit ultimately ruled in a bipartisan, 9-2 decision that the case should be reinstated and returned to Judge Sullivan.
  • Lead trial counsel for Georgia-Pacific in a multibillion-dollar federal court class action 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.
  • Lead trial counsel for Forest Laboratories in In re Namenda Direct Purchaser Antitrust Litigation, a certified antitrust class action in the Southern District of New York involving a groundbreaking treatment for dementia in Alzheimer's patients. Plaintiffs claimed approximately $21 billion in trebled damages; the case settled the night before trial for less than 5% of that amount.
  • Lead trial counsel for former pharmaceutical executive charged with participating in a criminal RICO conspiracy in a four-month, nationally reported jury trial that included testimony from more than 40 witnesses.
  • 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 alleged use of their intellectual property. 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.
  • 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 antidepressant 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 multibillion-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.

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 as a board member for the Washington Lawyers’ Committee and Maret School Board of Trustees. She is also 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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