Danielle Shelton is Of Counsel to The Weinhardt Law Firm, practicing primarily in the areas of business litigation and appeals. In her more than twenty-five years of practice, she has handled a wide variety of high-stakes cases. When you hire Danielle, you can expect that she will work tirelessly and use her talents and experience to represent your interests.
Danielle has a track record of success as a business litigator. She has represented clients in dozens of bench and jury trials as well as at hundreds of motions hearings and in depositions. Her cases routinely include the use of expert witnesses and entail extensive discovery practice, including e-discovery. Danielle enjoys researching and writing briefs, using the power of precedent and persuasion to obtain winning outcomes for her clients.
Danielle's representations include winning a jury trial in which her client asserted a business claim and defended against a counterclaim brought by its former business partner. The case raised numerous novel legal issues, making its way to the Iowa Court of Appeals and Iowa Supreme Court (both times with opinions favoring Danielle's clients) before finally being tried to a jury. Danielle also successfully drafted a motion to dismiss in a federal court action in which a former shareholder alleged fraudulent inducement of a settlement agreement. She represents a business client in a multi-million dollar claim against its directors and officers insurer based on its refusal to defend her client and ultimately provide coverage. That case has entailed extensive discovery, numerous expert witnesses, and most recently cross-summary judgment motions.
In addition, Danielle worked with Mark Weinhardt in the successful defense at trial and on appeal of the Iowa Department of Human Services, from which $43 million was sought by a health maintenance organization. Prior to that, Danielle also helped obtain a verdict topping $40 million in favor of her client, Midwest Oilseeds, Inc., in a federal court trial for breach of contract. She also assisted EFCO Corporation in recovering a $15 million verdict in a federal lawsuit involving business contracts and torts.
Besides assisting clients in the courtroom in trial and on appeal, Danielle also works, when feasible, to successfully resolve lawsuits prior to trial. This work includes obtaining summary judgment on behalf of her clients as well as negotiating favorable pretrial settlements. Most recently, Danielle helped her client win dismissal of antitrust and fraudulent inducement claims brought in federal court. She also helped another client obtain a desirable settlement in a highly-confidential and contentious business separation. She achieves these results through hard work, attention to detail, and constant strategizing.
Danielle also has experience in quasi-litigation forums, such as arbitration and administrative hearings. In a securities arbitration, Danielle helped her client, a long-standing insurance broker, obtain a seven-figure award against a large life insurance company. Following that three-week arbitration hearing, Danielle assisted her client in keeping that award despite an appeal to the federal courts. At the administrative level, Danielle has represented many clients, including challenging and defending bid awards for multi-million dollar state contracts in the Medicaid managed care and educational assessments contexts.
Danielle also has worked on many independent investigations, most typically hired by businesses that have sought outside counsel to investigate sensitive internal complaints often involving alleged misconduct by high-level officials. In that capacity, Danielle has helped craft the scope of these time-sensitive investigations, conducted dozens of witness interviews, and implemented a document collection and review strategy, typically culminating in drafting and presenting the investigation's findings. This work requires the highest level of professionalism and objectivity, in addition to investigatory and analytical skills, and Danielle is honored that businesses and their employees have entrusted her with this work.
She has also represented high-level executives who are facing an internal investigation. In that role, she has advised her clients on their rights and responsibilities as well as, when necessary, negotiating a favorable exit for her clients.
As a business litigator, Danielle knows first-hand the impact that procedural rules often play in litigation. Drawing on her business litigation experience, Danielle authored “Rewriting Rule 68: Realizing the Benefits of the Federal Settlement Rule By Injecting Certainty Into Offers of Judgment” (published in Minnesota Law Review) and “Discovery of Expert Witnesses: Amending Rule 26(B)(4)(E) to Limit Expert Fee Shifting and Reduce Litigation Abuses” (published in Seton Hall Law Review). Both articles draw on her practice experience to set forth solutions for reducing costs and unintended consequences in litigation. Her articles have been widely received by the legal community, are cited in civil procedure treatises, and have been considered at the federal and state level by rule reform committees. A federal district court judge praised her articles as “brilliantly analyz[ing] specific problems encountered by courts and litigants,” and “perhaps even more helpfully, provid[ing practical and well-thought out solutions.”
Danielle is committed to ensuring legal protection for victims of crime, including those with mental disabilities. To that end, she received grant monies to research and write a law review article entitled “Accommodating Victims with Mental Disabilities” (published in the Dickinson Law Review). She also represented an Iowa crime victim center in upholding its statutory privilege to defeat a federal court subpoena.
Before joining The Weinhardt Law Firm at its inception, Danielle was an attorney with Belin McCormick, P.C. for fifteen years. After graduating in the top ten percent of her class from Harvard Law School in 1995, she served as a Law Clerk to Judge Ed Carnes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. While in law school, she was a summer associate at both Sidley Austin LLP and Winston & Strawn LLP in their Chicago offices.
In 1996, she joined Belin McCormick as an associate, becoming an equity member of that firm in 2001. Since 2003, Danielle has taught and is a Professor of Law at the Drake University Law School. She has served on the law school's curriculum committee; its diversity, equity, and inclusion committee, and its promotions and tenure committee. She also has served on the university's curriculum committee and budget committee. In addition, she acts as the faculty advisor to various law student associations. She is an elected Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.
Legal: Harvard Law School, magna cum laude, 1995
Undergraduate: Augustana College, B.A., summa cum laude, 1992
Litigation: Complex Civil Litigation, Trial Practice, Appeals
States: Iowa, Illinois