James Rosenthal


James Rosenthal is Wilkinson Stekloff’s Managing Partner. James has over a quarter century of experience representing major companies in “bet the company” litigation in trial and appellate courts across the country.

Before joining the firm in 2018, James was Vice President and Associate General Counsel at Altria Client Services, where he managed the class action litigation facing the Altria family of companies, including Philip Morris USA. During his tenure, Philip Morris USA tried four class actions to successful outcomes and eliminated its active class action docket. James also supervised a variety of product liability, regulatory, and commercial litigation.

Before joining Altria in 2011, James was a partner at Arnold & Porter LLP where he specialized in class action and other aggregate litigation.

James was named as a 2020 National Law Journal “Winning Litigator.” In addition, over the course of his career, he has been (1) recommended by the Legal 500 for both Product Liability, Mass Tort & Class Action: Defense (Consumer Products), and Sports; (2) named as a Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyer and Leading Litigator; and (3) ranked by Chambers for Product Liability & Mass Torts.


  • Undergraduate: Pomona College, B.A.
  • Law: University of Michigan Law School, J.D., magna cum laude;
    Notes Editor, University of Michigan Law Review

Notable Matters

Representative matters since joining Wilkinson Stekloff include:

  • Member of trial team, including primary responsibility for directing legal strategy, in a multi-state class action, tried in February 2019, that accused Bayer Corporation of using misleading claims to market One A Day multivitamins. The jury returned a complete defense verdict in less than two hours.
  • Member of trial team that secured a groundbreaking victory for Microsoft, defeating the FTC’s efforts to enjoin its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard and winning the second-biggest merger trial in American history. Following a five-day bench trial, Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley denied the FTC’s motion for preliminary injunction, finding that the FTC failed to make its case that the acquisition would substantially lessen competition in the gaming industry. The deal closed shortly thereafter.
  • Member of trial team that defended Altria Group, Inc. in an administrative trial related to the FTC’s challenge under the antitrust laws 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 counsel for Altria in putative class action antitrust lawsuits pending in the Northern District of California related to the JUUL Labs investment.
    • Member of trial team that defended 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 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.

    • Represented the Executive Council of the Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake in Hengle v. Asner, a consumer class action filed in the Eastern District of Virginia in April 2019. After motions practice resulted in Plaintiffs dropping all claims for money damages against the Tribe’s economic development arms and the dismissal of Plaintiffs’ injunctive relief claim under RICO, the parties reached a nationwide class action settlement in which the Tribe paid $0 into the settlement fund and $0 in attorneys’ fees.
    • Member of trial team 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.
    • Represented 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 that Forest made an anticompetitive “reverse payment” to settle a generic drug manufacturer’s challenge to Namenda, and that Forest unlawfully tried to effectuate a “hard switch” between a twice-daily and once-daily version of Namenda. Plaintiffs claimed approximately $21 billion in trebled damages; the case settled the night before trial for less than 5% of that amount.
    • Along with former colleague Amelia Frenkel, appointed by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to argue the position of a pro se litigant whose claims that the U.S. State Department had discriminated against him in promotion decisions had been dismissed on summary judgment by the district court. After “thank[ing] Rosenthal and Frenkel for ably discharging their duties,” the D.C. Circuit reversed the entry of summary judgment and reinstated the litigant’s claims against the State Department. Represented the plaintiff on remand, obtaining summary judgment on liability and settling the claims.
    • Along with former colleague Xiao Wang, represented a criminal defendant in a challenge of his sentence in the Sixth Circuit. The court determined that the client’s sentence was substantively unreasonable, in a groundbreaking decision holding that the client’s prior criminal record “bore no meaningful relationship” to his sentence. United States v. Lee, 974 F.3d 670, 677 (6th Cir. 2020).