William L. Thorpe

William L. Thorpe

Partner

Bill is a founding partner of Thorpe Shwer. Widely considered one of Arizona’s preeminent litigators and trial attorneys, Bill has extensive experience in commercial and tort matters representing large and small companies. His broad-based litigation skills are reflected by his listing in Southwest Super Lawyers®, for Civil Litigation Defense, his designation for personal injury defense in Best Lawyers in America®, Personal Injury Litigation-Defendants and Railroad Law, 2005-2015, and his designation as a leading commercial litigator in Chambers USA, Leading Lawyers for Business. He is also rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell. Before forming Thorpe Shwer, Bill was a Director at Fennemore Craig, one of the largest law firms in the Southwest, where he had served for many years as the Chair of the Litigation Department, including at the time of his departure.

Bill has tried dozens of cases to verdict in state and federal courts throughout the country and has appeared before many regulatory and administrative entities. Bill is often called upon by national companies to handle critical litigation and trials both in Arizona and other jurisdictions.

During the course of his 30-plus years as an attorney in Arizona, Bill has represented a diverse group of clients including manufacturers, financial institutions, trucking companies, railroads, employers, and governmental entities and has experience in a wide array of subject matters including products liability, personal injury defense, premises liability, medical malpractice, professional liability, negligent road design, dram shop claims, bad faith insurance, business torts, securities, partnership and shareholder disputes, employment matters, intellectual property, real estate disputes, environmental contamination, and commercial disputes.

In addition to successfully litigating cases on behalf of his clients, Bill has also handled dozens of appeals. He has argued cases before the Arizona Supreme Court, the Arizona Court of Appeals, the California Court of Appeals, the Eighth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals, and the Ninth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals. Representative cases include:

BNSF Ry. Co. v. Seats Inc., 237 Ariz. 259 (App. 2015)

Davis v. BNSF Ry. Co., 2014 Ariz. App. Unpub. LEXIS 402, 2014 WL 1311757 (Ariz. App. 2014)

Quain v. CAPSTAR, 453 Fed. Appx. 702 (9th Cir. 2011)

Hunte Corp. v. Martinelli, 446 Fed. Appx. 818 (8th Cir. 2011)

BNSF Ry. Co. v. Buttrick, 228 Ariz. 449 (App. 2011)

Chiang v. J.B. Hunt Transp., 2010 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 8790, 2010 WL 4325226 (Cal. App. Nov. 3, 2010)

Haswell v. AMTRAK, 310 Fed. Appx. 184 (9th Cir. 2008)

Schrum v. Burlington N. Santa Fe Ry., 286 Fed. Appx. 380 (9th Cir. 2008)

BNSF Ry. Co. v. Ray, 138 Fed. Appx. 970 (9th Cir. 2005)

Mendoza v. Farmers Ins. Exch., 2005 Ariz. App. Unpub. LEXIS 258 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2005)

Guidroz-Brault v. Mo. Pac. R.R. Co., 254 F.3d 825 (9th Cir. 2001)

S. Pac. Transp. Co. v. Ariz. Corp. Comm’n, 173 Ariz. 630 (App. 1992)

Prudential Ins. Co. v. Pochiro, 153 Ariz. 368 (App. 1987)

Pochiro v. Prudential Ins. Co., 827 F.2d 1246 (9th Cir. 1987)

Professional and Community Activities

  • Member, National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel
  • Member, Executive Committee, National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel
  • Member, State Bar of Arizona
  • Member, Maricopa County Bar Association
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, Federal Bar Association

Admissions

  • Arizona, 1978
  • U.S. District Court, District of Arizona, 1978
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, 1988
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, 2011

Education and Honors

J.D., cum laude, Boston College, 1978
B.A., Stanford University, 1975
Articles Editor, Boston College Law Review, 1978

  • Benchmark Litigation, Local Litigation Star, 2011-2015
  • Best Lawyers in America®, Personal Injury Litigation-Defendants and Railroad Law, 2005-2015
  • Chambers USA, Leading Lawyers for Business, 2012
  • Southwest Super Lawyer®, Civil Litigation Defense, 2007-2009, 2013-2017