Stacey Drentlaw is a partner in Taft’s Commercial Litigation and Employee Benefits practices. Her practice focuses on representing clients involved in complex commercial litigation, railroad litigation, and construction litigation. She also serves as fund counsel to a family of multiemployer benefit funds that provide pension and welfare benefits to members. Stacey has represented multiemployer benefit funds, railroads, rail equipment manufacturers and owners, pharmaceutical companies, and correspondent lenders and banks in numerous state and federal courts throughout the United States. She also provides regulatory compliance counseling to her rail industry and multiemployer benefit fund clients.

Before entering private practice, Stacey clerked for the Hon. John D. Kelly of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. She received her J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School and her undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota.


  • Provides regulatory counseling related to FRA and PHMSA regulations regarding various rail issues, including, but not limited to, hazardous materials transportation, rail car and locomotive design, rail car and locomotive maintenance and inspection, employee training and crossing protection.
  • Represents multiemployer benefit funds in a variety of areas, including intervention and subrogation matters, litigation collection matters, QDROs, contract negotiations, and compliance.
  • Attends board of trustees meetings for multiemployer benefit funds.
  • Negotiates, drafts and implements contracts between multiemployer benefit funds and service providers.
  • Drafts and reviews plan restatements, plan documents, summary plan descriptions, and policies and procedures for multiemployer benefit plans.
  • Assists clients following catastrophic events such as train derailments, including government investigations, evidence preservation, expert retention, pre-litigation counseling and trial.


  • University of Minnesota Law School (1998)

    magna cum laude
    Order of the Coif

  • University of Minnesota (1995)


  • State - Minnesota
  • State - Montana
  • State - Wisconsin
  • Federal - 7th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Federal - 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Federal - District of Minnesota
  • Federal - Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • Federal - Western District of Wisconsin
  • Federal - District of Montana
  • Federal - Northern District of Illinois
  • Federal - Northern District of Indiana

Notable Matters

  • Actively involved in emerging issues related to the transportation of petroleum crude oil by rail and recent derailments, including litigation and regulatory developments.
  • Performs risk assessments related to new products and product modifications.
  • Represented framing subcontractor in lawsuit by general contractor alleging that subcontractor installed defective lumber in several multi-family apartment projects. Obtained a defense verdict on behalf of subcontractor following a two-week jury trial related to two projects, which was affirmed on appeal, and obtained favorable settlement in litigation related to a third project.
  • Defended correspondent lenders in lawsuits brought by liquidating trust of bankrupt securitizer alleging breach of contract and indemnification based on purported defects in mortgage loans.
  • Represented numerous railroads and rail equipment owners and manufacturers in contract disputes, crossing and FELA cases, FRA matters, and litigation involving derailments.
  • Represented tank car owner in litigation involving a train derailment and chlorine release. Established that all claims against tank car owner were preempted because tank car at issue fully complied with all applicable regulations, and obtained voluntary dismissal of all claims against tank car owner.
  • Represented rail car owner in litigation involving a third party’s fall from the top of the rail car. Obtained dismissal of all claims against the rail car owner based on federal preemption, which was affirmed on appeal.
  • Represented railroad in litigation involving a train derailment that occurred at a railroad grade crossing, resulting in an ethanol release and fire. Obtained favorable settlements to most lawsuits with minimal or no litigation. One of two remaining lawsuits was favorably settled one week prior to trial, and the final lawsuit was favorably settled just prior to receiving the jury’s verdict following a five-week jury trial.
  • Represented locomotive manufacturer in multiple lawsuits involving alleged locomotive seat failures.
  • Represented locomotive manufacturer in litigation involving a train derailment and diesel fuel fire. Drafted brief that resulted in preemption-based dismissal of locomotive manufacturer.


Professional Affiliations

  • American Bar Association


  • Minnesota State Bar Association


  • Hennepin County Bar Association


  • Defense Research Institute


  • National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel


Community Involvement

  • Minnesota Pharmacy Benefits Manager (PBM)

    Rulemaking Advisory Committee Member (2020)

  • Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children

    Member, Board of Directors (2017-2019)

  • Sabathani Community Center

    Member, Board of Directors (2010-2013)