James F. Neale


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  • University of Virginia School of Law, JD, 1998
  • University of Virginia, BA, 1990
  • West Virginia
  • Virginia
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Virginia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia
  • Supreme Court of Virginia
  • West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals

Member, Charlottesville Bar Association

Member, Thomas Jefferson Inn of Court

Jim Neale is a trial lawyer whose varied practice focuses on high-exposure cases in courts across the country. He has substantial mass tort and class action litigation experience and currently serves as co-chair of the firm's foodborne illness litigation practice group. His first-chair trial experience includes personal injury, product liability, premises liability, transportation, insurance coverage, land valuation, and ERISA cases, and he has taken dozens of cases to verdict in both state and federal courts.

Much of Jim’s current work focuses on defending clients in food-related litigation, including foodborne illness cases and labeling claims, as well as counseling food companies on regulatory compliance and litigation avoidance. Jim regularly advises manufacturers, distributors and retailers on matters related to Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Tax and Trade Bureau compliance. He served as lead counsel for a Fortune 100 food manufacturer in an international recall that led to multidistrict litigation, class actions, and personal injury cases across the country, successfully trying two high-profile cases to verdict.

Jim has also defended clients in a variety of other arenas, including high-exposure cases before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation and numerous arbitration panels. He has briefed and argued appeals to the Virginia Supreme Court and the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 4th Circuit and 11th Circuit.

Jim is frequently quoted by the media on the topic of food safety and has written extensively on the topic He is the co-author of Food Safety Law, published by American Lawyer Media and now in its ninth edition. He is a member of the faculty of the National Trial Advocacy College at the University of Virginia.

From 1990 to 1995, Jim served as an Airborne Ranger and Light Infantry Platoon Leader in the U.S. Army and was awarded a Ranger Tab, Senior Parachutist's Badge, Air Assault Badge and Expert Infantryman's Badge. Following law school, Jim served as a law clerk to the Honorable Richard L. Williams, Senior U.S. District Court Judge in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Jim serves as the liaison for McGuireWoods' pro bono work with the University of Virginia Law School’s Just Children Program, which provides legal services to youth aged 18 and under. He helps assemble defense teams, in addition to personally defending children in court and before school boards. In other pro bono work, Jim recently teamed with members of the UVA Law School Innocence Project to represent an individual who was wrongfully convicted of a 1978 rape. The team successfully enacted legislation, signed by Virginia’s governor, to compensate the individual’s family for his wrongful incarceration.

Elected as a Virginia Law Fellow in 2014 and an ABA Law Fellow in 2015, for several years Jim has been singled out by BTI Consulting Group as a Client Service All Star in product liability. While earning his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, he won the John Kingdon Award for Outstanding Oral and Written Advocacy and the Stephen P. Traynor Award for Outstanding Appellate Advocacy. He was also named the winner and outstanding oralist in the William M. Lile Moot Court Competition.

T: +1 434 977 2582F: +1 434 980 2263EmailCourt Square Building
310 Fourth Street, N.E.
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Charlottesville, VA 22902-1288

Successfully defended 8,000-store retail chain as first chair in a Los Angeles Superior Court jury trial in which model/actor alleged the unauthorized use of his image and sought to disgorge $35 million in sales allegedly due to his image.

Won a bench verdict for a land developer, establishing the fair market value of a land donation at more than $86 million, winning his client more than $20 million in contested tax credits and preserving $50 million in tax deductions. 

Won a jury verdict for a food manufacturer in trial against an excess insurer for coverage worth more than $40 million.

Served as lead counsel for a Fortune 100 food manufacturer in an international recall that resulted in multidistrict litigation, class actions, and personal injury cases across the country and successfully tried two bellwether cases to verdict.

Tried and won verdicts in state and federal courts across the country in insurance coverage, product liability, personal injury, premises liability, police misconduct and wrongful foreclosures.

Defended Fortune 50 company and executive, securing a defense jury verdict in Virginia state court and winning seven figure counterclaim.

Elected as a Fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation in 2014

Selected for inclusion in “Client Service All Stars,” Product Liability, BTI Consulting Group, 2011, 2013, 2014

Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, Product Liability Litigation, Woodward/White, Inc., 2009-2017

Selected for inclusion in America's Leading Lawyers for Business, Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation, Nationwide, Chambers USA, 2015-2016

Named to "Virginia Super Lawyers," Personal Injury Defense: General, Civil Litigation Defense, Personal Injury Plaintiff: General, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2010-2016

Named to "Virginia Rising Stars," Personal Injury Defense: General, Civil Litigation Defense, Personal Injury Plaintiff: General, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2007-2008

AV Rated, Martindale-Hubbell

Co-author, "12 Ways to Ensure Compliance With New Food Defense Rule," Law360, June 13, 2016
Co-author, "FDA Cleans Up Sanitary Food Transportation Rule," Law360, April 8, 2016
Co-author, "The Increasing Risk Of Criminal Prosecution For Food Cos.," Law360, January 22, 2016
Co-author, "The Impact of the FDA Banning PHOs in the US," Food Manufacturing, June 17, 2015
Co-author, Understanding Food and Beverage Recalls: Successfully Navigating the Recall Process and Updating Risk Management Strategies, Aspatore Special Report, 2014
Co-author, "Recent Foster Farms Salmonella Outbreak Illustrates USDA Food Safety Regime," Food Safety Magazine, November 19, 2013
Author, Coping With the Rapidly Expanding Food and Drug Laws, Inside the Minds: Recent Developments in Food and Drug Law, Thompson Reuters/Aspatore, 2013 Ed. 2012
Co-author, Food Safety Law, Law Journal Press, November 2010
Co-author, "Responding Rapidly as Inspections and Recalls Rise," Counsel to Counsel, January 2008
Moderator, "Attorney General Perspectives and Enforcement − Protecting the People?," Food and Beverage M&A and Private Equity Update, May 2016
Speaker, Food Safety Crisis & Risk Management, McGuireWoods LLP Webinar, March 2016
Moderator, "Current environment and outlook in the food and beverage industry Panel," Food and Beverage M&A and Private Equity Update, October 2015
Moderator, "Update on GMO Issues," ABA Subcommittee on Foods and Supplements, June 2015
Co-Speaker, "Regulations – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" and "FSMA and Your Recall Plans and Best Practices," Food Safety Challenges in an Era of Change: How to Better Protect Your Food and Beverage Company, Your Customers and Yourself, October 2014
Speaker, "A Defense Perspective on the Growing List of Issues for Labeling Claims," Product Liability: Plan and Prepare, DRI Conference, April 2014
Speaker, "Connecting The Litigation Paper Trail: How FSMA Reporting Requirements May Impact Your Litigation Strategies," 7th National Forum on Food Borne Illness Litigation, American Conference Institute, January 2014
Speaker, "A Comparison of Food Safety Regimes," "Labeling Claims," and "Recalls and Crisis Management," Cross-Border Food Safety: What's on the Menu?, McGuireWoods Complimentary Seminar with Red24, October 2013
Moderator, "Presenting Food Science to the Judge and Jury," ABA Subcommittee on Food and Supplements, June 2013
Speaker, Food Safety & Technology: What’s next for 2013, Food Manufacturing Webcast, March 2013
Presenter, "Food Borne Illness Litigation," American Conference Institute, November 2012
Presenter, "USDA and FDA Boot Camp," American Conference Institute, October 2012
Speaker, "Five Steps Toward Food Safety Preparedness," Anatomy of a Recall, October 2007