R. Trent Taylor Partner

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.


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.

  • Harvard Law School, JD, 1998
  • Rhodes College, BA, Phi Beta Kappa, 1995

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

  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia

Selected for inclusion as a "Leading Lawyer," Product Liability, Mass Tort And Class Action: Toxic Tort – Defense, Virginia, Legal 500 US, 2017

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