Forrest Hainline is a nationally known trial lawyer who has tried more than 100 cases before courts, juries, administrative agencies and arbitration panels throughout the United States. He has appeared in the Supreme Court of the United States and has argued before seven U.S. Courts of Appeals.

Mr. Hainline tries complex cases that he simplifies so courts and juries can understand them. He has tried antitrust, major products liability, patent and trademark, mass tort, California’s Proposition 65, consumer class action and products labeling cases, and distribution and competition matters. He is often brought in to try cases within months of trial. Mr. Hainline has extensive experience representing food, beverage, and hospitality companies.

Mr. Hainline believes that a trial lawyer has to combine the skills of a priest, poet and martial artist. At Notre Dame, he studied theology under John Dunne and Henry Nouwen and philosophy with Joseph Evans. At SUNY Buffalo, he studied poetry with Robert Creeley, Irving Feldman and Lionel Abel, and is a published poet. Mr. Hainline is a fourth degree black belt in Aikido.





Mr. Hainline represents food, supplement, consumer products and pharmaceutical companies in litigation challenging the safety of the products and the accuracy of their labeling, as well as distribution, competition and intellectual property matters.

In the hospitality and leisure space, Mr. Hainline represents hotel management companies in disputes with owners. His experience includes representing:

  • Food companies in consumer class actions challenging food labels as being misleading
  • Food and consumer products companies in challenges under California’s Proposition 65 labeling statue. Mr. Hainline tried one of only three Proposition 65 cases to go to trial, including the best known – the California Attorney General’s attempt to require methyl mercury warnings on canned tuna
  • A major food manufacturer in connection with a mercury poisoning case a month before trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • Food manufacturers in cases claiming botulism poisoning
  • A major food manufacturer in a catastrophic product loss claim against a manufacturer of a sanitizing agent used in the preparation of fresh produce
  • A major cookie manufacturer in nationwide challenges to its distribution system
  • An industry leading food manufacturer in a patent infringement and theft of trade secret claim involving its well-known in-store displays
  • A major food manufacturer in an antitrust challenge to its direct-billing of chain stores serviced by independent distributors, and established the legality of that practice
  • The former CEO and former chief wine maker of a famous vineyard in a dispute over the value of his clients’ ownership of the winery
  • Hotel management companies in “midnight raid” (an industry phrase Mr. Hainline coined) efforts by hotel owners to change management
  • Hotel management companies in radius and other disputes with hotel owners
  • A supplement marketer regarding Proposition 65 matters


Benchmark Litigation recognizes Mr. Hainline as a 2021 Litigation Star in California for his work in Commercial, Product Liability & Recall. Mr. Hainline has been selected as a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and he is a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, an invitation-only trial lawyers honorary society. Mr Hainline is listed by Legal 500 as one of only 12 Leading Lawyers in the United States for Products Liability law and in 2017, Legal 500 named him to its inaugural Hall of Fame. He is also listed in Chambers USAAmerica’s Leading Lawyers for BusinessU.S. News-Best Lawyers (Commercial Litigation and Litigation: Antitrust), Benchmark Litigation (State Litigation Star, General Commercial and Product Liability)California Super Lawyers, and has held Martindale-Hubbell‘s highest rating of "AV®-Preeminent™" for more than 35 years. Mr. Hainline is former Chair of the Standing Committee on Professional Conduct for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. 

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J.D., 1974
The University of Michigan Law School
M.A., 1971
The State University of New York at Buffalo
B.A., 1968
University of Notre Dame



District of Columbia


U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Federal Claims
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
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U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
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