Cotchett Pitre & McCarthy

Speaker Bio

Frank M. Pitre, a San Francisco native, earned his B.S., Cum Laude, in Business Administration and his J.D. from the University of San Francisco. While at USF, Pitre served a legal externship with the California Supreme Court.

Considered to be one of the outstanding trial lawyers in areas of personal injury/wrongful death, consumer fraud and commercial torts, Pitre has won millions of dollars for victims of injustice.

His skill as a trial lawyer has earned him recognition among his peers who have elected him as a member of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers, American Board of Trial Advocates (Advocate), International Academy of Trial Lawyers, International Society of Barristers, and the National Board of Trial Advocacy.

Recently, he was appointed by Federal District Court Judge Jesse Furman as one of ten members of the Plaintiffs Executive Committee to lead litigation pending in the Southern District of New York on behalf of a nationwide class of consumers against General Motors for safety related defects in over 27 million vehicles.  MDL 2543 In Re: General Motors Ignition Switch Litigation.

Concurrently, he serves as Plaintiffs Liaison Counsel spearheading the co-ordination of dozens of cases filed on behalf of injured passengers against Asiana Airlines and Boeing, arising from the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco on July 6, 2013.  In Re: Air Crash At San Francisco, California On July 6, 2013.  Additionally, he serves as Co-Lead Counsel in a shareholder derivative action against members of PG&E's Board of Directors for their abdication of fiduciary responsibilities necessary to ensure the Company's compliance with pipeline safety regulations leading up to the September 9, 2010 explosion and fire of a natural gas pipeline in San Bruno.  Salman, et al. v Darbee, et al. JCCP Action 4648-C

In November 2013, Pitre was honored by the Consumer Attorneys of California as Consumer Attorney of the Year for his efforts in coordinating, prosecuting and resolving over 200 claims of injury, death and property destruction against PG&E.  See link to In Re San Bruno Fire Cases: JCCP Action No. 4648

Earlier that same year, Pitre served as Co-Lead Counsel for Economic Loss Class Plaintiffs in the Toyota Unintended Acceleration Marketing & Sales Practices Cases which successfully resulted in securing final approval of a $1.5 billion settlement on behalf of class members.  In Re: Toyota Unintended Acceleration Marketing Sales Practices & Product Liability Litigation, MDL 2151JVS.

In 2011, Pitre recovered the largest individual wrongful death verdict in San Diego County history, when a jury awarded $17.4 million to the wife and three children of a high ranking U.S. Naval Officer, who was killed while riding his bike in a collision with an American Medical Response transport van. Mazurek, et al. v. American Medical Response, et al., San Diego Superior Court Action No. 10-83975 May 20, 2011. As a result, he was named a finalist for the 2011 Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Consumer Attorneys of California.

In 2009, Pitre was recognized by the National Law Journal’s “Plaintiff’s Hot List” for his work as co-lead trial counsel in the In Re: Bextra and Celebrex Mktg., Sales Practices & Product Liability Litigation (MDL 1699), which culminated in Pfizer agreeing to pay $894 million to settle consolidated injury and class action cases related to its pain killers Bextra & Celebrex.

In 2006, Pitre obtained one of the largest verdicts in Sutter County history where he obtained over $45 million on behalf on an elderly minority shareholder who had been frozen out of participation in a lucrative family timber harvesting business.  Siller v. Siller, Sutter County Superior Court Action No. CVCS01-1083.

He is a past president of Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC), the 3,000-member group of lawyers dedicated to protecting and seeking justice for consumers.

Pitre served as liaison counsel and a member of the Plaintiffs Steering Committee in the Alaska Air Flight 261 air crash. In addition, he was a member of the Plaintiffs Executive Committee arising out of the Singapore Airlines Flight 006 air crash in Taiwan. Immediately prior to his committee appointments in Alaska Air and Singapore Airlines, he served as a member of the Plaintiffs Management Committee in the California Diet Drug Litigation where thousands of individuals were victimized by the diet pill combination Fen-Phen, which was condemned by the FDA for causing adverse health effects.

Pitre’s numerous jury trials include a multi-million dollar wrongful death verdict in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana, California, against the State Department of Transportation, a highway contractor and a trucking company. The verdict, one of the largest of its kind for Orange County at the time, was affirmed on appeal, and as a result Pitre was a finalist for CAOC’s Trial Lawyer of the Year award (2004).

Pitre served as co-lead trial counsel for Consumers Union, obtaining a defense verdict in favor of Consumers Union in a product disparagement case where the plaintiff, Isuzu Motors of Japan, sought damages of multi- million dollars. His work in defense of Consumers Union earned him recognition as a finalist for Trial Lawyer of the Year Award 2000.

Pitre won a multi-million dollar verdict for the victims of a high profile San Francisco balcony collapse. He also secured a significant verdict for compensatory and punitive damages before a San Francisco jury which found the defendant to have wrongfully deprived the plaintiff of her partnership interest in a successful business. In addition, he served as co-lead trial counsel with Joseph W. Cotchett for E. & J. Gallo, winning a landmark trade dress infringement case for the winery.

His notable federal class action cases include Livingston v. Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc., involving a nationwide antitrust class action under the Sherman Act by purchasers of more than three million Toyota vehicles.

His experience in mass tort cases began in 1987 with the PSA Air Crash Cases, representing numerous plaintiffs in wrongful death actions following the crash of PSA Flight 1771, where he served as a member of the Plaintiffs Steering Committee, and later as plaintiffs co-lead trial counsel for the six-week jury trial which established the defendants' liability. The success of the PSA Air Crash Cases led to his appointment as a member of the Plaintiffs Steering Committee in Carnahan et al. v. State of California, which successfully resolved hundreds of claims for personal injuries and damages against more than 100 defendants.

Pitre is the author of numerous articles, including “Abuse of Process,” California Tort Damages, California Continuing Education of the Bar, 1988; and “Tort Trends,” The Docket, San Mateo County Bar Association, 1989-1994. He is co-author of “Jury Instructions: A Practical Approach to their Use,” Civil Litigation Reporter, March, 1984; “Arguing Punitive Damages,” Civil Litigation Reporter, California Continuing Education of the Bar, 1991; “Effective Opening Statements,” California Litigation, Journal of The Litigation Section, California State Bar, 1991; “Jury Trial Tips: Witnesses,” California Litigation, Journal of The Litigation Section, California State Bar, 1991; and “Winning Through a More Effective Direct Examination,” California Litigation, Journal of the Litigation Section, California State Bar, 1991. Since 1998 he has served as the author of “California Personal Injury Proof,” published by the California Continuing Education of the Bar.

Pitre has served on the faculty of the Hastings College of Advocacy and the University of San Francisco Trial Advocacy Program. He also has served as the Co-Chair and presenter at several Masters In Trial programs sponsored by the ABOTA Foundation.