William C. Wagner
Bill is an accomplished trial lawyer focused on complex commercial litigation (including government contracts, insurance recovery, and privacy and data security), environmental litigation, and white collar criminal defense. His clients include manufacturers, defense contractors, and financial, professional services, and technology companies.
He believes trial skills and integrity matter. In an era when approximately 95% of cases settle, he has tried more than 40 cases to verdict. In the last few years, Bill defeated a 9-figure breach of contract claim against a defense contractor client; obtained preliminary and permanent injunctions to protect a client’s trade secrets from misappropriation for technology representing billions of dollars in sales; skillfully guided clients through internal investigations and high-profile, parallel regulatory, civil, and criminal investigations and prosecutions; and defended small family-owned businesses from environmental regulatory actions and recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance coverage to pay for those responses.
Bill treats every client’s case as unique. He creates bold litigation strategies to achieve the clients’ business goals efficiently and in a cost-effective manner. He develops creative, proactive, and tailored litigation plans to fit his clients’ business goals based on his 25 years of experience working on a variety of high-stakes cases. Bill also uses an assortment of tools and technologies, including aggressive and targeted pretrial discovery and motions, sophisticated expert witness testimony, and focus groups and mock trials, to develop case assessments and strategies to present his clients’ cases in their best light. Bill’s clients value this approach because it allows for efficient trial preparation by narrowing the issues in dispute, reducing the scope and cost of discovery, and reducing the risks at trial.
Clients have engaged Bill to take over complex cases going to trial, often from larger law firms. He has tried cases involving scientific issues in federal and state courts and in arbitrations throughout the United States, and is often consulted by other lawyers on the nuances of expert testimony and the admission of evidence at trial. His clients’ cases have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, ABA Journal, BNA Reporters, and major news outlets. For over 15 years, the National Institute of Trial Advocacy has invited Bill to teach trial skills to lawyers from across the country.
He has a wide variety of litigation experience, with many of his cases touching upon several related areas.
- Commercial Litigation (Government contracts, trade secrets, insurance recovery, privacy and data security): Successfully represented defense contractor BAE Systems in a breach of contract action and in defense of a 9-figure breach of contract counterclaim in an arbitration before the American Arbitration Association, International Centre for Dispute Resolution; successfully obtained preliminary and permanent injunctions in an Ohio state court to protect BAE Systems’ industrial trade secrets from misappropriation for technology representing billions of dollars in sales; represented numerous clients in breach of contract, tortious interference, fraud, and securities claims, and in AAA and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA, formerly NASD) arbitrations. He has represented clients in connection with claims asserted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Defend Trade Secrets Act, the False Claims Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
- Environmental Litigation (Class action and mass tort litigation): Successfully represented the State of Indiana, IDEM, and DNR as private counsel following a 50-mile fish kill resulting in the largest natural resources damages settlement in the state; represented General Motors Corporation in defense of U.S. EPA and IDEM removal and remedial actions costing in excess of $200 million and in defense of related mass tort litigation alleging $80 million in damages; represented numerous manufacturers, dry cleaners, property owners, and private parties against U.S. EPA and state (IDEM, Illinois EPA, and Michigan DEQ) remediation and enforcement actions and in related class action and mass tort actions (IN, IL, NJ, TX, WV). Bill has litigated cases subject to federal and state environmental laws, including the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and the Indiana Environmental Legal Action (ELA) statute.
- Insurance Recovery: Successfully represented public and private corporations, government entities, and individuals in recovering hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance benefits and coverage under a variety of insurance policies (including commercial general liability, umbrella, directors and officers, errors and omission, professional liability, employment practices liability, business interruption, crime, cyber, environmental, ERISA/fiduciary, flood, and long term disability).
- Privacy and Data Security: Seeing the growing regulatory and compliance challenges and business risks to clients associated with the threat of cybersecurity issues, Bill has led Taft’s Privacy and Data Security Practice counseling clients in pre-incident response planning, compliance, cybersecurity best practices, cyber insurance, post-incident investigations and analysis, and data breach strategies and defense (IL, IN, KY, OH, PA). He is a frequent author and speaker on DoD’s Network Penetration Reporting and Contracting for Cloud Services regulations and the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.
- Corporate Compliance and White Collar Defense: Bill began his legal career trying cases as a deputy prosecutor, before becoming a trial lawyer for a national insurance company. He has led numerous internal investigations and successfully represented a variety of public and private corporations, public utilities, and individual officers and supervisors in defense of government investigations and parallel federal and state administrative, civil, and criminal investigations, grand jury proceedings, and criminal prosecutions, including federal (Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) and state environmental crimes (IL, IN, CA). Along with Taft partner Jackie Bennett, Bill represents the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet in its investigation of potential violations of the Kentucky Model Procurement Code and coercion of state employees for campaign contributions in violation of campaign finance laws.
Bill has received the highest professional rating for general ethical standards and legal ability from Martindale Hubbell, and has been regularly recognized by Best Lawyers in America® in the categories of Commercial Litigation, Insurance Law, and Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions–Defendants and as an Indiana Super Lawyer. Bill has been named a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, the Indiana Bar Foundation, and Litigation Counsel of America, The Trial Lawyer Honorary Society, and serve on multiple committees for the ABA, DRI, and the Sedona Conference, including as the Environmental Crimes Subcommittee Chair to DRI’s Government Enforcement and Corporate Compliance Committee. He is a member of the Sedona Conference–Working Group 1 (Electronic Document Retention and Production) and Working Group 11 (Data Security and Privacy Liability), and the Seventh Circuit Council on eDiscovery and Digital Information.
He has earned some of the highest certifications in privacy, data security, and insurance, including the Certified Information Privacy Professional/United States (CIPP/US) and Government (CIPP/G) designations and the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation. As a regular contributor to Taft’s Privacy and Data Security Insights blog, he writes on matters pertaining to cyber security best practices, defense of class actions and government investigations, and cyber insurance.
Honoree, Best Lawyers in America® (2012 – present)
Honoree, Indiana Super Lawyers
AV Peer Review Rated, LexisNexis/Martindale-Hubbell
"Lawyer of the Year" Honoree, Best Lawyers in America, Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions – Defendants (2020)
All Service Areas
- Valparaiso University School of Law (1992)
- Valparaiso University, B.S. (1988)
- Federal - Northern District of Indiana
- Federal - Southern District of Indiana
- Federal - U.S. Court of Federal Claims
- Federal - U.S. Supreme Court
- Federal - 7th Circuit Court of Appeals
- Federal - 4th Circuit Court of Appeals
- Federal - Western District of Pennsylvania
- Federal - Northern District of Illinois
- State - Indiana
- State - Illinois
- American Bar Association
- DRI Government Enforcement and Corporate Compliance Committee
Current Chair, Environment Crimes Subcommittee
- Indiana Bar Foundation
- Indiana State Bar Association
- Indianapolis Bar Association
- Litigation Counsel of America
Fellow, The Trial Lawyer Honorary Society
- American Bar Foundation
- The Sedona Conference
- 7th Circuit Council on eDiscovery and Digital Information
- Seventh Circuit Bar Association
Former Southern District of Indiana Liaison
- Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US and CIPP/G)
- Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU)