R. Trent Taylor


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  • Harvard Law School, JD, 1998
  • Rhodes College, BA, Phi Beta Kappa, 1995
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit

Co-coach, University of Richmond Law Moot Court Team, 2011-2012

Adjunct Professor, Trial Advocacy and Coach of Mock Trial Team, University of Richmond, 2002-2008

Trent focuses on defending complex toxic tort and products liability cases with an emphasis on public and private nuisance litigation, environmental contamination suits, and food safety issues. His experience includes defending clients in class actions, MDL coordinated proceedings, nationwide mass tort litigation, and appellate cases involving complex scientific and medical issues. His practice in recent years has been concentrated in the defense of novel claims brought by plaintiffs, including public nuisance, civil conspiracy, unjust enrichment, and deceptive trade practices.

He is nationally-recognized commentator on legal issues and has had articles published in numerous national publications including the National Law Journal, the Toxics Law Reporter, Law360.com and POWER Magazine. In addition he has been interviewed and quoted by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, American Lawyer, the National Law Journal, Compliance Week Inside Counsel, Business Insurance, Electric Power Daily, Electric Utility Week, Global Power Report, Platts Coal Outlook, Coal Trader, Inside Energy Extra, The legal Intelligencer, Law360.com, PowerGen Worldwide, and numerous influential legal blogs, among others. He was interviewed on NPR's "All Things Considered" on June 8, 2010, to discuss appellate issues. Furthermore, he is currently co-authoring the first-ever comprehensive treatise devoted entirely to nuisance and trespass law that will be published by a prominent academic press soon.

Prior to joining McGuireWoods, Trent was an associate in an international firm and a law clerk for the Honorable Harry Wellford of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

T: +1 804 775 1182F: +1 804 225 5409rtaylor@mcguirewoods.comOne James Center
901 East Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23219-4030
Public/Private Nuisance & Environmental Contamination Litigation

National coordinating and trial counsel for Fortune 100 chemical manufacturer in public nuisance litigation in various jurisdictions nationwide (including California, Missouri, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Texas) relating to the historic manufacture and sale of lead-based paints for the last 15 years.

Defense of Fortune 200 utility in a multibillion nuisance suit alleging air and water contamination on behalf of more than 450 plaintiffs. Achieved dismissal of the 12 causes of actions, as well as all of the water contamination allegations, the medical monitoring, stigma, fear of future injury, and emotional injury damages.

Defense of multiple defendants in environmental contamination class action public nuisance lawsuit seeking damages related to climate change. Achieved dismissal of case at trial court level.

Defense of numerous other environmental contamination lawsuits including personal injury and property damage suits related to fuel oils, carbon monoxide, benzene, silica, asbestos, and radioactive elements.

Food Safety & Pharmaceutical Representation

Nationwide defense of major food manufacturer and multiple retailers in adulterated food personal injury claims arising in connection with highly publicized food recalls, including more than 600 cases in 24 states, and 20,000 individual claims. Our team:

  • Managed more than 75 attorneys, including seven coordinating attorneys and 27 local counsel firms.
  • Established an MDL and transferred  375 cases into it.
  • Removed approximately 300 cases to federal court.
  • Prevailed in defeating class certification.
  • Prevailed on 85% of the more than 600 motions filed.
  • Dispositive motions (including motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment) were granted in more than 100 cases, dismissing more than 500 plaintiffs.
  • Prevailed in all four of the cases that went to trial.
  • Prevailed on every appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Represented major food manufacturer in novel labeling claim seeking class action injunctive relief that would have forced food producers selling meat products to warn consumers that the products may cause cancer. Prevailed on motion to dismiss.

Representation of global client in criminal investigation related to allegedly contaminated food products.

Defense of pharmaceutical company as national counsel in multidistrict litigation involving tens of thousands of suits. Defense of individual drug product liability suits in state and federal courts at all stages of litigation, including discovery proceedings, at trial, and on appeal. Assisted in negotiating, drafting, implementing, and defending $3.8 billion nationwide settlement agreement.


Argued and briefed numerous appeals on variety of issues, including appeals before the highest courts of nine states and four federal circuit courts.

Published Opinions

Fox Rest Associates, L.P. v. Anne B. Little, et al., 282 Va. 277, 717 S.E.2d 12 2011 Va. LEXIS 183 (2011). Argued appeal on behalf of Fox Rest. Court reversed trial court's judgment granting the defendants' motion to strike and remanded for trial, holding that Fox Rest presented sufficient evidence in its in chief to establish a prma facie case for its claims of fraudulent conveyance and voluntary conveyance.

Godoy v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. 319 Wis.2d 91, 768 N.S. 2d 674 (2009): Personal injury claim against former manufacturers of lead pigment seeking damages for alleged cognitive deficits and behavioral problems. Briefed appeal before the Wisconsin Supreme Court on behalf of all defendants. Court unanimously affirmed in favor of client and dismissed design defect claim.

Comer v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc., Cause NO. 1 11CV220-LG-RHW, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39580 (S.D. Miss. March 20, 2012). Court granted motion to dismiss in climate change public nuisance litigation as to all defendants.

Kidd v. ConAgra Foods, Inc. MDL Docket No. 1845, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2725 (N.D. Ga January 9, 2012). Court granted summary judgment to defendants in adulterated food lawsuit.

Ahrens v. ConAgra Foods, Inc. C.A. file 108-CV-3693, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28849 (N.D. Ga March 17, 2011). Court granted summary judgment to defendants in adulterated food lawsuit.

In re ConAgra Peanut Butter Prods, Liab. Litig., MDL Docket No. 1845, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136474 (N.D. Ga. Dec. 16, 2010). Court granted summary judgment to defendants in adulterated food lawsuit.

Author, "Targeting Executives of Food and Beverage Companies and Transporters," Food Safety Magazine, June 17, 2014
Co-author, Understanding Food and Beverage Recalls: Successfully Navigating the Recall Process and Updating Risk Management Strategies, Aspatore Special Report, 2014
Co-author, "Food And Beverage Industry Outlook For 2014: Part 1," Law360, January 16, 2014
Co-author, Nuisance and Trespass Law, Treatise, Forthcoming 2013
Co-author, The Obsolescence of Environmental Common Law, 40 Ecology Law Currents 1, 2013
Co-author, "A Food Industry Issue Menu For 2013: Part 1," Law360, February 13, 2013
Author, "The death of environmental common law?," The National Law Journal , October 15, 2012
Author, Food Labeling Suits: An Explosive Trend In Tort System, Law360, September 28, 2012
Co-author, "Battle Lines Form Over Hydraulic 'Fracking'," The National Law Journal, October 24, 2011
Author, "AEP v. Conn.," Law 360, Portfolio Media Inc., June 28, 2011
Author, "Fourth Circuit Ruling in North Carolina v. TVA Strikes Severe Blow to Tort of Public Nuisance," Toxics Law Reporter, August 26, 2010
Author, "When Recusals Kill the Quorum," Law 360, Portfolio Media Inc., July 7, 2010
Author, "Will Climate Change Suits Make It To the Supreme Court?," Law 360, Portfolio Media Inc., May 13, 2010
Author, "Climate Change Litigation: Ripe for Growth?," POWER magazine, October 1, 2009
Co-author, "The tort that refuses to die," National Law Journal, April 6, 2009
Author, "State of North Carolina v. TVA: A New Era in Public Nuisance Law?," BNA Toxics Law Reporter, March 12, 2009
Co-author, "Spoliation of Evidence in State and Federal Courts in Virginia," The Journal of Civil Litigation, Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys, Fall 2007
Speaker, "Safety, FDA regulations & liability," 2014 IWLA Warehouse Legal Practice Symposium, June 19, 2014
Panelist, "A Look at Decisions Impacting the Business Community," Fourth Circuit Year in Review, McGuireWoods LLP Complimentary Webinar and Live Presentation, May 15, 2014
Co-speaker, "The Changing Class Action Landscape – what are the national trends, best practices and developing claims," Challenges Facing the Food and Beverage Industries in Complex Consumer Litigations, Perrin Conferences, April 8, 2014
Speaker, The Rising Threat of Criminal Prosecution in the Food and Beverage Industry, McGuireWoods Webinar, February 18, 2014
Speaker, "Demonstrating Nexus, Causation and Injury to Recover Cleanup Costs and Other Damages," Groundwater Contamination Litigation: Proving and Defending Against Liability, October 10, 2013
Panelist, "Addressing the Overlapping and Intersecting Authority of the FDA, USDA, FTC and Other Key State and Federal Agencies," Food Regulatory Compliance Summit, October 3-4, 2013
Speaker, "Navigating the Challenges of Class Certification, Preemption and Standing," Food Labeling Class Actions: The Latest Damages Boon?, Strafford CLE Webinar, October 1, 2013
Moderator, U.S. Supreme Court Review and Preview, Panel Review of the 2012-13 U.S. Supreme Court Term and Preview of the Upcoming 2013-14 Term with Particular Emphasis on Decisions that Impact the Business Community, September 5, 2013
Panelist, "Defending Against and Asserting Challenges to Expert Witness Evidence," Fracking Litigation and Daubert Challenges, Strafford Publications Webinar, May 21, 2013
Speaker, "The Legal and Regulatory Battle Over Food Labeling and How Those in the Food Industry Can Protect Themselves," Food Fight!, McGuireWoods LLP Webinar, April 11, 2013
Speaker, "Demonstrating Nexus, Causation and Injury to Recover Cleanup Costs and Other Damages," Groundwater Contamination Litigation: Proving and Defending Against Liability, October 4, 2012
Panelist, "Navigating New EPA Rules, Lease Negotiations, Environmental Issues and Other Legal Challenges," Hydraulic Fracturing Litigation, Enforcement and Regulatory Developments, Strafford Publications Webinar, June 12, 2012
Co-moderator, "By-product and Emerging Liability Threats - Fracking, Drilling, Disposal Issues in Focus," 12th Annual Environmental & Energy Symposium, May 29, 2012
Speaker, 2011 Energy and Environmental Update CLE, Presentation to In-house Counsel of Fortune 200 Company, October 12, 2011
Panelist, "Diversity Jurisdiction and Removal to Federal Court – Applying the Supreme Court's Nerve Center Test to Complex Corporate Structures and Navigating Nuances of Removal," Strafford Publications Webinar, September 27, 2011
Speaker, "Applying the Supreme Court's Nerve Center Test to Complex Corporate Structures and Navigating Nuances of Removal," Diversity Jurisdiction and Removal to Federal Court, September 27, 2011
Speaker, Carbon Emissions Litigation: Analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court's Decision in AEP v. Connecticut and the Fourth Circuit’s Decision in NC v. TVA, August 11, 2011
Panelist, "Shale Gas Drilling and Developments: Why Environmental Contamination Lawsuits Are A Significant Threat to the Energy Industry and How to Defend Against Them," Strafford Publications Webinar, July 19, 2011
Speaker, "Judgment Day for Climate Change Litigation II: Analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court's Decision in AEP v. Connecticut," McGuireWoods LLP Webinar, June 23, 2011
Speaker, "E pluribus unum: Successfully Navigating Multidistrict Litigation," McGuireWoods LLP Seminar, June 14, 2011
Speaker, "Judgment Day for Climate Change Litigation: Post-Game Analysis of U.S. Supreme Court Oral Argument in AEP v. Connecticut," McGuireWoods LLP Webinar, April 26, 2011
Co-moderator, "Inside the Supreme Court's Pending AEP v. Connecticut Case: Will A Climate Change Nuisance Cause of Action Survive," 11th Annual Environmental and Energy Issues Symposium, April 6, 2011
Speaker, "A Preview of the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court Term with an Emphasis on Cases Important to DOE and Government Contractors, Department of Energy Contractor Attorneys," Association (DOECAA) Fall 2010 Conference, October 21, 2010
Speaker, "A preview of the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court Term with an Emphasis on Cases Important to Wall Street and Main Street," The Business of the U.S. Supreme Court Is...Business!, McGuireWoods LLP Webinar, October 14, 2010
Speaker, The 2009-10 U.S. Supreme Court Term in Review and Outlook for 2010-11, McGuireWoods LLP Seminar, September 14, 2010
Panelist, "Climate Change Nuisance Litigation: Emerging Trends and Defense Strategy for Global Warming Claims," Strafford Publications Webinar, June 22, 2010
Speaker, "Nuisance Litigation: Past, Present, and Future," Presentation to In-house Counsel of Fortune 100 Company, February 17, 2010
Speaker, "Removal to Federal Court: Beyond the Basics," Virginia CLE Webinar, November 4, 2009
Speaker, "A Discussion of the Legal & Regulatory Implications of the 2nd Circuit's Recent Decision in Connecticut v. American Electric Power Co.," The Gathering Storm of Climate Change Litigation & Policy for Corporate America, McGuireWoods LLP Webinar, October 15, 2009
Panelist, "Global Swarming: Who Will Recover the Costs Of Climate Change Compliance and 'By-product Liability," 8th Annual Coal Industry Briefing, McGuireWoods LLP, September 30, 2009
Speaker, The 2008-09 U.S. Supreme Court Term in Review and Outlook for 2009-10, McGuireWoods LLP Seminar, August 2009
Panelist, "Common Law & Statutory Damage Theories & the Potential Litigation Agenda in the Era of Climate Change," 9th Annual Environmental & Energy Issues Symposium, McGuireWoods LLP Seminar, May 6, 2009
Speaker, "Defending Emergent Claims - A Soup and Nuts Approach," Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys Annual Meeting, October 2008
Speaker, "Chief Justice Roberts as Jedi Knight?: The 2007-08 U.S. Supreme Court Term in Review and Outlook for 2008-09," McGuireWoods LLP Seminar, August 2008
Speaker, "The (Conservative) Empire Strikes Back!: The 2006-07 U.S. Supreme Court Term in Review and Outlook for 2007-08," McGuireWoods LLP Seminar, August 2007