R. Trent Taylor Partner

Trent focuses on defending complex class actions with an emphasis on product class actions, public and private nuisance litigation, environmental contamination suits, and food labeling and 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 class action claims brought by plaintiffs, including public nuisance, civil conspiracy, unjust enrichment, and deceptive trade practices.

He is a 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 a comprehensive treatise devoted entirely to nuisance and trespass law.

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.

Experience

Co-chair of Consumer Class Action sub-group
Co-chair of Food Safety and Labeling sub-group
Co-chair of Public and Private Nuisance Litigation team

Product Class Actions

Lead lawyer for Fortune 150 retailer in multidistrict litigation involving over 20 nationwide and state class actions related to allegedly deceptive labeling on motor oil.  Moved for and achieved creation of MDL in Kansas City for the cases over the objection of Plaintiffs.  Led team that has taken and defended approximately 50 depositions.  Briefed class certification.

Lead lawyer for multinational company that produces and markets cement and ready mix concrete in class action related to allegedly defective concrete.  Led team that has taken and defended over 25 depositions.  Briefed and argued class certification.

Co-lead lawyer for Fortune 500 client in nationwide food labeling litigation.  Led team to multiple dismissals and multiple denials of class certification.  Briefed appeals before multiple Circuit Courts of Appeals, including one of the seminal cases on ascertainability in class actions.

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

Defense of pharmaceutical company as national counsel in multidistrict litigation involving tens of thousands of suits.  Assisted in negotiating, drafting, implementing, and defending $3.8 billion nationwide class settlement agreement.

Defense of water treatment equipment manufacturer in multiple class actions in multiple jurisdictions related to allegedly deceptive sales presentations.

Represented one of North America’s largest food companies and defeated certification in a multi-state consumer class action pending in the Northern District of California alleging the label claim of zero calories was misleading.

Obtained dismissal with prejudice of consumer suit challenging the labeling of cooking spray in Florida state court.

Obtained dismissal with prejudice of consumer class action challenging the “natural” claim and GMO status of vegetable oil

Obtained denial of class certification in consumer class action challenging the use of trans fats in margarine.

Obtained dismissal with prejudice of consumer class action challenging the use of PHOs in popcorn snack products.

Obtained dismissal with prejudice of consumer class action challenging nutrient content claims of vegetable spread and popcorn oil.

Resolved multiple consumer class actions regarding labeling claims for international soy sauce manufacturer.

Represented one of North America’s largest food companies in defeating class certification and obtaining dismissal in two labeling cases filed in Arkansas alleging 'natural' claims were misleading and Court granted motions for costs, requiring plaintiffs’ counsel to reimburse the defendant.

Represented one of North America’s largest food companies and defeated class certification in a Northern District of CA case alleging the ‘natural’ claim on various product labels was misleading.

Represented one of North America’s largest food companies and successfully petitioned the 9th Circuit to accept interlocutory appeal of order certifying a multi-state class action alleging the ‘natural’ claim on a product label is misleading due to alleged presence of GMO derived ingredients. This ‘natural’ case has been held out as the one of the seminal genetically modified (GMO)-labeling case.

Represented one of North America’s largest food companies and successfully defended a slack-fill matter which was voluntarily dismissed and received a voluntary dismissal with prejudice of a putative class action.

Prevailed on Motion to Dismiss 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.

Expert czar for defendant in case seeking property damages for large wildfire in California on product liability theory. Hired and prepped 23 experts in a variety of disciplines in two months.

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.  Achieved summary judgment on many of the remaining claims.

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.

Co-lead lawyer in multiple nuisance class action suits filed against landfills.

Defense of energy company in class action lawsuits seeking damages related to fracking.  Achieved dismissal of class action allegations at motion to dismiss stage.

Defense of paper mill in class action lawsuit seeking damages related to wood dust.

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 and Beverage Litigation

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.

Co-lead lawyer for Fortune 500 client in nationwide food labeling litigation.  Led team to multiple dismissals and multiple denials of class certification.  Briefed appeals before multiple Circuit Courts of Appeals, including one of the seminal cases on ascertainability in class actions.

Represented one of North America’s largest food companies and defeated certification in a multi-state consumer class action pending in the Northern District of California alleging the label claim of zero calories was misleading.

Obtained dismissal with prejudice of consumer suit challenging the labeling of cooking spray in Florida state court.

Obtained dismissal with prejudice of consumer class action challenging the “natural” claim and GMO status of vegetable oil

Obtained denial of class certification in consumer class action challenging the use of trans fats in margarine.

Obtained dismissal with prejudice of consumer class action challenging the use of PHOs in popcorn snack products.

Obtained dismissal with prejudice of consumer class action challenging nutrient content claims of vegetable spread and popcorn oil.

Resolved multiple consumer class actions regarding labeling claims for international soy sauce manufacturer.

Represented one of North America’s largest food companies in defeating class certification and obtaining dismissal in two labeling cases filed in Arkansas alleging 'natural' claims were misleading and Court granted motions for costs, requiring plaintiffs’ counsel to reimburse the defendant.

Represented one of North America’s largest food companies and defeated class certification in a Northern District of CA case alleging the ‘natural’ claim on various product labels was misleading.

Represented one of North America’s largest food companies and successfully petitioned the 9th Circuit to accept interlocutory appeal of order certifying a multi-state class action alleging the ‘natural’ claim on a product label is misleading due to alleged presence of GMO derived ingredients. This ‘natural’ case has been held out as the one of the seminal genetically modified (GMO)-labeling case.

Represented one of North America’s largest food companies and successfully defended a slack-fill class action matter which was voluntarily dismissed with prejudice.

Routinely counsels food and beverage companies on regulatory compliance, litigation avoidance, and risk analysis of labeling claims.

Appellate

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

State Attorney General Actions/Federal Criminal Investigations

Representation of Fortune 150 retailer in multiple State Attorney General lawsuits and investigations related to consumer protection statutes.

Representation of global client in federal criminal investigation related to allegedly contaminated food products. Resolved without any action after in-person meeting and presentation to USDA officials.

Published Opinions

Board of Commissioners of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East v. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., 850 F.3d 714 (5th Circuit 2017) (affirming dismissal of complaint in case alleging that exploration activities by companies involved in offshore exploration for and production of oil reserves caused infrastructural and ecological damage to coastal lands that increased risk of flooding due to storm surges and necessitated costly flood protection measures)

Allen v. Conagra Foods, Inc., No. 13-cv-01279, 2015 WL 13035176 (N.D. Cal. Jan, 9, 2015) (denying class certification in proposed class action alleging that a label on margarine spray misleads people about the product’s fat and calorie content)

In re: Dollar General Corp. Motor Oil Marketing and Sales Practices Litig., 190 F.Supp. 3d 1361 (J.P.M.L. 2016) (forming an MDL in series of class actions over objection of Plaintiffs)

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 1st Circuit
  • 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
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia
  • 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 Wisconsin

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

Back to top