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C. Stephen Setliff - Setliff Law Attorney Bio Image

C. Stephen Setliff

Fax: (804) 377-1281

Consistently recognized as one of America’s Best Lawyers, Mr. Setliff represents clients in complex litigation at the trial and appellate level in state and federal courts across the United States. His multifaceted trial practice includes representation of clients across a broad array of industries, with a focus on transportation companies, including railroads and trucking companies, in claims of traumatic injury by employees and non-employees. His railroad practice includes defense of Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) claims by employees allegedly injured as a result of occupational workplace hazards, including hearing loss, repetitive stress and exposure to asbestos, silica, diesel fumes, soaps, solvents and other chemical fumes. Additionally, he is trial counsel to Class I and Class III railroads in casualty claims as well as employment claims arising under the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA). Mr. Setliff is a member of the General Counsel Committee of the American Shortline and Regional Railroad Association, the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel (NARTC) and the Virginia Railroad Association.

Mr. Setliff also represents trucking companies, their insurers and their drivers in a wide variety of claims, including catastrophic personal injury, property damage, and toxic cleanup. He also handles workers’ compensation claims, negotiating, drafting and enforcement of commercial agreements, including brokerage and independent contractor agreements, traffic citations including felony charges, and employment claims under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA). His practice covers the gamut of trucking litigation, from first scene accident investigation to effectively and efficiently trying cases to verdict.

Mr. Setliff’s trial practice also includes representation of one of the nation’s largest utility companies, as well as a worldwide hotel and resort chain, in commercial litigation matters as well as claims of personal injury and property damage.  Mr. Setliff is also national trial counsel for an international fitness chain in claims of personal injury as well as commercial disputes. He is also trial counsel for several national commercial property owners, landlords and management companies handling commercial landlord/tenant issues as well as personal injury and premises liability.


Trial counsel for multiple national and regional freight motor carriers regarding personal injury and workers’ compensation claims.

 Trial counsel for Class I railroads for FELA, FRSA,  crossing accident and property damage claims.

Trial counsel for Class III railroads including Buckingham Branch Railroad for FELA, crossing accident and property damage claims.

Trial counsel for national property management companies for commercial landlord tenant and premises liability litigation.

Trial counsel for national power utilities in commercial and personal injury litigation.

Trial counsel for several national insurance carriers, and their insureds, as well as several specialized insurance captives in personal injury and workers’ compensation claims.

Trial counsel for several national commercial entities, in personal injury, workers’ compensation and general commercial litigation.


“Preventing Penalties with CSA Improvements,” Omnitracs Outlook user conference, Las Vegas, Nevada, February, 2020

“Insulating your company from the “nuclear” verdict,” North Carolina Loggers Association, Norwood, NC, October 2019

“Anticipating and defending against newest trends in casualty cases,” VTA Annual Meeting, Virginia Beach, Virginia, September 2019

“Investigating and defending truck accidents,” Virginia Loggers Association, Hot Springs, Virginia, August 2019

“Improving CSA Scores,” 2019 National Tank Truck Council Safety & Security Council Annual Meeting, Florida, June 2019

“The sharks are in the water – are you?” Carolina Loggers Association Annual Meeting, Wilmington, NC, February 2019

“The Employee Handbook: Why you need one and how it can protect you,” VTA Safety & Human Resources Council, Providence Forge and Weyers Cave, January 2019

“Use of electronic data in defense of casualty cases,” Presentation to Multiple Insurance Companies, 2019

“Anticipating and Defending Truck Crash Litigation,” Virginia Loggers Association Conference, Virginia, April 2018

“Defense of Whistleblower and Negligent Hiring and Retention Claims,” Captive Resources Infinity Meeting, Chicago, April 2018

“Defense of The Casualty Case,” Tidewater Motor Truck Association, Norfolk, Virginia, March 2018

“Avoiding Common Liability Traps,” Virginia Trucking Association Safety and Human Resources Council, Virginia, March 2018

“Preventing and defending STAA whistleblower claims,” Fleet Solutions Captive, Las Vegas, Nevada, February 2018

“Avoiding liability under the various federal whistleblower statutes,”  Titan Construction Captive, San Antonio, Texas, February 2018

“Dealing with an OSHA (or VOSH) Citation,” Virginia Movers and Warehousemen Association, Virginia, January 2018

“Defense of the Catastrophic Accident Claim,” VTA Safety and Human Resources Council, Virginia, January 2018

“Avoiding and defending bad faith claims in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C.,” In-house Claims/Law Department presentation for a casualty insurer, November 2017

“Is your business compliant? The basics of a legal audit,” Virginia Movers and Warehousemen Association, November 2017

“Anticipating and defending issues relative to the carrier/broker relationship,” Virginia Trucking Association Annual Convention, Norfolk, Virginia, October 2017

“Anatomy of a Catastrophic Truck Accident,” National Truck and Heavy Equipment Claims Council Meeting, Dallas, Texas, May 2017

“Anatomy and Defense of a Serious Truck Accident” Panel Discussion and Mock Trial, Virginia Trucking Association, Annual Safety Council Meeting, Staunton, Virginia, April 2017

“What you need to know about hiring and retention issues,” Raffles Captive Meeting, Phoenix, Arizona, April 2017

“Best hiring and retention practices,” Traxx Captive Meeting, San Antonio, Texas, March 2017

“Minimizing liability for hiring and retention decisions,” American Moving and Storage Association Annual Meeting, Palm Springs, California, February 2017

“Preventing and defense of STAA Whistleblower Claims,” Captive Transportation Safety Workshop, Dallas, Texas, February 2017

“Dangers Around Each Curve: Defending Negligent Hiring/Retention Claims,” Transportation Safety Workshop, Dubuque, Iowa, September 2016

“Defending Negligent Hiring and Retention Claims,” Virginia Trucking Association 2016 Annual Convention, Hot Springs, Virginia, September 2016

“Defending FMCSA Coercion Claims,” Virginia Trucking Association, May 2016

“Defense of Employment Related Claims,” Safe Truck Captive meeting, Dubuque, Iowa, April 2016

“Anticipating the Electronic Logging Device Mandate,” Maryland Motor Truck Association, Eastern Shore Chapter, April 2016

“Danger around every curve – whistleblower and coercion claims,” Traffic Captive meeting, Tennessee, April 2016

“Defending Whistleblower and Coercion Claims,” Raffles Captive meeting, Chicago, April 2016

“Defense of negligent hiring and retention claims,” Virginia Movers and Warehousemen Association meeting, February 2016

“Defending Whistleblower Claims under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act,” Virginia Trucking Association meeting, September 2015

“The Advent of Whistleblower Litigation,” Virginia Trucking Association Safety Management Conference, April 2015

“Defense of Brain Injury Cases,”  InterTrans Annual Safety Conference, January 2015

“The Dynamics of Grade Crossing Litigation,” 23rd Annual TIDA Industry Seminar, January 2015



• University of Virginia (B.A.)

• University of Richmond, T.C. Williams School of Law  (J.D., cum laude)

Member of the McNeill Honor Society

Associate Editor, University of Richmond Law Review

National Moot Court Team



• Virginia

• District of Columbia

• The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

• The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia

• The Supreme Court of Virginia

• The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit



Virginia Trucking Association, General Counsel

American Trucking Association

Maryland Motor Truck Association

National Tank Truck Carriers

Trucking Industry Defense Association (TIDA)

American Moving and Storage Association

Virginia Movers and Warehousemen Association

National Truck and Heavy Equipment Claims Council (NTHECC)

Virginia Loggers Association

Carolina Loggers Association

Virginia Motorcoach Association

American Bar Association (former Vice-Chairman, Rail & Motor Carrier Law Committee; Natural Resources, Toxic Tort & Environmental Litigation Committee)

Virginia State Bar (former Vice-Chairman, Third District Disciplinary Committee)

National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel (Former Member, Executive Committee)

Virginia Railway Association

American Short Line Railroad Association

Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association


Mr. Setliff repeatedly has been recognized in “The Best Lawyers in America” in Transportation Law (2008-2019) and also in the categories of:

• Railroad Law
• Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions – Defendants
• Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants

Mr. Setliff repeatedly has been recognized by Virginia Super Lawyers (2009 – 2019).

Mr. Setliff has achieved Martindale-Hubbell’s A/V  rating for legal ability and ethical standards.

 Mr. Setliff has been recognized as an Avvo Top Rated Lawyer (Superb Attorney Rating) in 2019.


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