William C. Wagner
Bill is widely recognized as an accomplished and successful trial attorney. He has extensive experience trying and winning cases involving complex, scientific issues in civil and criminal trials in federal and state courts, administrative hearings, and arbitrations throughout the country. In an era when approximately 95% of cases settle, he has tried more than 50 cases to verdict. His courtroom successes include defeating a nine-figure breach of contract claim, obtaining preliminary and permanent injunctions to protect a client’s trade secrets from misappropriation for technology representing billions of dollars in sales, and representing a world-leading manufacturer of nuclear material handling and lifting equipment pursuing breach of contract and delay damages against the U.S. Navy.
He has substantial experience handling a wide variety of matters, including complex business disputes, theft of trade secrets, government contracts, False Claims Act, cyberattacks, securities, and ERISA litigation. Bill also has substantial experience with matters involving environmental law, mass torts, class actions, defense of enforcement actions by federal and state agencies, and insurance coverage and cost recovery actions. He has skillfully guided clients through multi-faceted and sensitive internal investigations and high-profile, parallel administrative, civil, and criminal investigations and prosecutions, with some of his greatest successes never being publicized. Bill has represented companies and their management in virtually every industry, including defense, energy, financial, manufacturing, professional services, technology, and utility services. His clients’ cases have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, ABA Journal, BNA Reporters, and major news outlets.
Bill has been regularly recognized by Best Lawyers in America® in multiple categories and has been named a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, the Indiana Bar Foundation, Litigation Counsel of America, and The Trial Lawyer Honorary Society. He has served on multiple committees for the American Bar Association, DRI, and Sedona Conference. He has also received the highest professional rating for general ethical standards and legal ability from Martindale Hubbell.
Bill grew up in the steel mill city of Gary, Ind. He worked his way through college and law school receiving his undergraduate and law degree (cum laude) from Valparaiso University. He began his legal career trying cases and examining expert witnesses, first as a deputy prosecutor, then as an in-house trial attorney for State Farm Insurance, before entering into private practice. For over 15 years, the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) has invited Bill to teach trial skills to lawyers from across the country and across the world.
Honoree, Best Lawyers in America (2012 – present)
Honoree, Indiana Super Lawyers
(2004 – 2007, 2010 – 2021)
AV Peer Review Rated, LexisNexis/Martindale-Hubbell
“Lawyer of the Year” Honoree, Best Lawyers in America, Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions – Defendants (2020)
Life Fellow, American Bar Foundation
All Service Areas
- Commercial Litigation
- Class Action, Derivative, and Multi-Party Litigation
- Crisis Management
- Environmental Litigation
- Compliance, Investigations, and White Collar Defense
- Government Contracts
- PFAS (Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances)
- Insurance Recovery
- Privacy and Data Security
- Securities Litigation and Enforcement Defense
- Arbitration and Mediation
- Investment Funds
- 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
Business Disputes, Government Contracts, Trade Secrets, Cyberattack Litigation
- Represented a world-leading manufacturer of nuclear material handling and lifting equipment pursuing breach of contract and delay damages against the United States Navy for portal cranes costing more than $75 million. The case was tried to the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals and the parties are awaiting a final decision.
- Represented an international defense, aerospace, and global security company in a breach of contract case in federal court, and in defense of a 9-figure breach of contract claim in an American Arbitration Association, International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) arbitration.
- Represented an international defense, aerospace, and global security company and obtained preliminary and permanent injunctions in an Ohio state court to protect industrial trade secrets from misappropriation for technology representing billions of dollars in sales.
- Represented a technology company accused of orchestrating a distributed denial of services (DDoS) cyberattack against a competitor and in defense of Computer Fraud and Abuse Act claims in a New Jersey federal court.
- Represented a Native American-owned, small disadvantaged business in a Small Business Administration-approved mentor/protégé relationship in defense of a False Claims Act lawsuit seeking treble damages of $660 million, penalties, attorneys’ fees, and expenses in a Minnesota federal court. Obtained dismissal of the Relator’s claims.
- Represented a telecommunications company in a two-week federal civil trial involving allegations of fraud, conspiracy, and Civil Action by Crime Victim Act claims with over $10 million in damages.
- Represented an interstate highway construction contractor in defense of civil Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and Civil Action by Crime Victim Act claims in federal lawsuit brought by the Office of the Indiana Attorney General.
- Represented an international defense, aerospace, and global security company in a breach of contract case in an Indiana state court and in pursuit of a counterclaim for misappropriation of trade secrets.
- Represented the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet as outside counsel in its investigation of fraudulently procured contracts.
- Represented investors in securities fraud lawsuits against brokers in arbitrations subject to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), formerly known as the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD). The claims included allegations of suitability, rescission, failure to supervise, and other claims, and the recovery of trading losses, fees, and expenses.
- Represented brokers in response to administrative, state, and federal investigations and prosecutions brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Indiana Securities Division, and the Office of the Indiana Attorney General.
- Represented non-profit foundation, its employee benefit plan, and third party administrator in defense of benefit claims subject to ERISA brought by national health care provider and physicians group.
- Represented pesticide manufacturer in defense of patent infringement case brought by industry leader, having responsibility for defense of damages claims.
Administrative, Civil, and Criminal Litigation
- Extensive experience presenting and challenging expert testimony at trial and in Daubert hearings, including experts in the fields of toxicology, epidemiology, medical monitoring, fate and transport, remediation, vapor intrusion, economic losses, lost profits, and other damages.
- Extensive experience litigating chemical exposure and personal injury cases involving the “Forever Chemicals” perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), which are members of a chemical group called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS); chlorinated solvents, including tetrachloroethene (also known as perchloroethylene or PCE), tetrachloroethylene (TCE), and vinyl chloride; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); petroleum contaminants (benzene, BTEX); pesticides (atrazine, chlorpyrifos); heavy metals (lead); asbestos; hydrogen sulfide; and water disinfection byproducts.
- Represented the State of Indiana, IDEM, and DNR as private counsel against Guide Corporation following a 50-mile fish kill caused by sodium dimethyldithiocarbamate contamination resulting in the largest natural resources damages settlement at the time in state history. The case involved claims for natural resource damages, response costs, penalties, and fines under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Resource Cost Recovery Act (RCRA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), Indiana environmental laws, and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit violations.
- Represented the world’s largest automobile manufacturer in defense of U.S. EPA and IDEM removal and remedial actions costing in excess of $200 million for PCBs contamination and in defense of related mass tort litigation brought by approximately 40 individuals alleging $80 million in damages. The personal injury cases were settled after favorable Daubert and summary judgment rulings against the plaintiffs’ remediation, medical monitoring, and stigma damages claims.
- Represented an aerospace manufacturer in defense of a purported class action for personal injury, medical monitoring, and stigma damages in a case where TCE contamination migrated in groundwater below a newly constructed subdivision. The approximately 135 plaintiffs sought $50 million in damages. The case was settled favorably after rulings denying class certification and plaintiffs’ personal injury, medical monitoring, and stigma damages claims.
- Represented commercial property owner in defense of U.S. EPA Unilateral Administrative Order, an injunction filed by the City of Martinsville in federal court, and accompanying personal injury lawsuits filed in state court in connection with PCE contamination to the city’s drinking water wellfield and resulting vapor intrusion.
- Represented a minority and woman-owned environmental engineering firm, along with many of its clients, who are new Americans of Indian descent that own and operate independent retail gas stations and convenience stores, against IDEM in federal court litigation. Plaintiffs alleged that they were deprived of their due process rights to seek reimbursement for the cost to investigate and remediate gasoline contamination from leaking registered underground storage tank systems from the Excess Liability Trust Fund (ELTF). After exchanging written discovery and preliminary motion practice, the parties through counsel engaged in informative scientific meetings and settlement discussions, and resolved the matter by mutual agreement.
- Plaintiffs’ co-counsel with Rob Bilott against DuPont in the class action litigation in West Virginia (Rhodes, et al.) and New Jersey (Rowe, et al.) asserting medical monitoring and common law tort claims as a result of PFOA (also known as C8) exposure in plaintiffs’ drinking water. The cases were featured in the critically acclaimed movie, “Dark Waters.” Plaintiffs sought medical monitoring for elevated cholesterol, several types of cancer, and other diseases caused by PFOA exposure. The C8 science panel later determined that PFOA exposure resulted in kidney cancer, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid cancer, pregnancy induced hypertension (including preeclampsia), and hypercholesterolemia.
- Represented numerous manufacturers, dry cleaners, property owners, and private parties in defense of U.S. EPA and state (IDEM, Illinois EPA, and Michigan DEQ) remediation and enforcement actions and in defense of related mass tort and class actions (IN, IL, NJ, TX, WV) involving tetrachloroethene (perchloroethylene or PCE), trichloroethylene (TCE), and vinyl chloride contamination.
- Represented clients in 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 (CWA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and state environmental crimes (IL, IN, OH, CA) as listed below.
- Represented the Indiana Water Quality Coalition, a group of businesses and industry associations participating in IDEM’s rulemaking on antidegradation.
White Collar Defense
- Represented the State of Indiana’s largest municipal drinking water utility service in defense of federal and state criminal and regulatory investigations concerning atrazine and disinfection byproducts.
- Represented a tire recycling business and its owners and officers in defense of a multiple count felony criminal prosecution, and parallel civil lawsuit by the State of Indiana and IDEM administrative enforcement action, all prosecuted by the Office of the Indiana Attorney General, arising from a massive tire fire.
- Represented a real estate appraiser in two-week federal criminal trial involving 11 counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud. Obtained not guilty verdicts on all counts. The successful defense of criminal case resulted in the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) dismissal of a parallel federal civil lawsuit.
- Represented an environmental supervisor of the DaimlerChrysler Kokomo Transmission Plant in defense of federal felony Clean Water Act prosecution in which the prosecution alleged that the discharge damaged the municipal wastewater treatment plant. Extensive expert testimony proved that no permanent damage occurred, which resulted in a very favorable CWA misdemeanor plea agreement with six months of home detention, one year of probation, and a minimal fine.
- Obtained defense verdict as co-counsel representing a real estate appraiser in federal criminal jury trial involving twelve counts of wire fraud and mail fraud.
- Conducted numerous internal investigations and represented clients in response to federal grand jury subpoenas.
- Represented international manufacturing company seeking Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance coverage to pay for parallel Office of Inspector General and U.S. Department of Justice investigations into alleged bribery of public officials in exchange for awarding of government contracts.
- Represented numerous manufacturers, dry cleaners, property owners, and private parties in defense of civil litigation and administrative regulatory actions asserted by U.S. EPA and state agencies (IDEM, Illinois EPA, and Michigan DEQ) in insurance coverage disputes, recovering hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance coverage to pay for the defense of those actions. Recovered insurance coverage to pay for the defense of a federal criminal case alleging Clean Water Act crimes based on negligent conduct.
- 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, crime, cyber, environmental, ERISA fiduciary, flood, and long term disability.
- Assist business owners, senior management, and general counsel to analyze risks, review existing insurance policies, negotiate key terms and provisions, and enforce and litigate insurance coverage claims to help clients maximize their insurance coverage as part of an overall comprehensive risk management and cost savings strategy.
Privacy and Data Security
- Seeing the growing regulatory and compliance challenges and business risks to clients associated with the threat of cybersecurity issues, Bill co-chaired 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 has also been a frequent author and speaker on DoD’s Network Penetration Reporting and Contracting for Cloud Services regulations and the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.
- 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)