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Joe Whatley grew up in Monroeville, Alabama, the setting for To Kill A Mockingbird. Mr. Whatley is one of the few lawyers in the country to have argued before the United States Supreme Court as well as tried class actions to jury verdict for plaintiffs as well as defendants. He has a wide-ranging, national practice. He has argued cases before a majority of the Circuit Courts of Appeals in the country and tried cases in a number of different State and District Courts, before Judges and juries.
He is a graduate of Harvard College (A.B., cum laude, 1975), and the University of Alabama School of Law (J.D., 1978). Mr. Whatley is a member of the Bar in the States of Alabama, Texas, Colorado and New York, and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the United States District Court for the Middle, Southern and Northern Districts of Alabama, the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, the Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western Districts of Texas, the District of Colorado, as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Circuits. After graduating from the University of Alabama Law School, Mr. Whatley served as a law clerk to the Honorable Frank H. McFadden, who was then Chief United States District Judge for the Northern District of Alabama (1978-1979). Mr. Whatley is a member of the American Bar Association (Member, Sections on: Labor and Employment Law; Litigation), a member and past President (1990-1991) of the Birmingham Federal Bar Association, and a member and past President (1990-1991) of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the Alabama State Bar.
For more than a decade Mr. Whatley has focused his practice on healthcare and antitrust cases. His healthcare cases have primarily been against health insurance companies. Mr. Whatley was appointed Co-Lead Counsel for the Provider Plaintiffs in In re Blue Cross Blue Shield Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2406. He was one of the most active lawyers in Court proceedings in In re Managed Care Litigation and in Thomas/Love v. Blue Cross, and he was one of the principal negotiators of the path-breaking settlements in both of those proceedings that resulted in billions of dollars in value, consisting of monetary relief and significant practice changes in the managed care industry. He represents providers of healthcare of all types in disputes with health insurance companies. He has represented and currently represents doctors and ancillary providers in a whole range of issues related to their reimbursement. He also currently represents ambulatory surgery centers in antitrust claims against health insurance companies in multiple markets. He has represented hospitals in arbitration against health insurance companies.
He is also an experienced trial lawyer, having tried numerous cases, including class actions, to verdict. For example, Mr. Whatley won a $1.28 billion jury verdict on behalf of a class of cattle ranchers against Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. in Pickett v. Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., No. 96-A-1103-N (M.D. Ala.), and won what was at the time the largest wrongful death verdict in Louisiana history in Dunn v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 890 F. Supp. 1262 (M.D. La. 1995). Mr. Whatley has recovered billions of dollars of value, consisting of monetary relief and significant business practice changes in litigations against the managed care industry. Additionally, Mr. Whatley tried Levinson v. Westport National Bank, No. 09-cv-269 (D. Conn. 2012), a case brought by retirees and small investors alleging that the defendant bank breached numerous contractual and fiduciary duties to the investors in its administration of the plaintiffs’ financial accounts, which settled on the eve of closing arguments; and In re Cox Enterprises, Inc. Set-Top Cable Television Antitrust Litigation, wherein a class alleged that the cable provider Cox unlawfully tied its premium cable service to rental of its set-top boxes, which resulted in a $6.31 million jury verdict before trebling. (After the jury verdict, the Court entered an Order directing verdict for the Defendant. The case is on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.)
Mr. Whatley has been recognized by his peers as one of the top lawyers in the country. He has been admitted as a Fellow to the American College of Trial Lawyers. In 2011, he was selected as one of the top 100 lawyers in the New York Metropolitan Area. He has been selected each year for decades as one of the Best Lawyers in Alabama.