David H.S. Commins


David Commins brings 34 years of litigation experience – 25 years running his own firm – to any case. Since 2016 he has been named a Super Lawyer based on peer recognition and professional achievement.

Mr. Commins has tried cases in Northern and Southern California, has arbitrated cases in several states before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) (and previously before the NASD, the NYSE, and the Pacific Stock Exchange), as well as AAA (the American Arbitration Association) and JAMS (the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Service), is licensed in every State and Federal Court in California, and in the Federal District Court in Arizona.

In March 2011, together with Mr. Knudsen, he obtained a verdict of over $1.8 million and a judgment of $2.4 million in Smally v. Nationwide Insurance, a multi-party bad faith jury trial in Marin County.  The verdict included $1.2 million in punitive damages.

In June 2011, also together with Mr. Knudsen, he obtained a FINRA Award for $3.5 million plus stock options, compensation that had not been paid to a municipal bond trader, in Kelleher v. Wedbush Securities.  After they successfully defeated Wedbush’s challenges to the Award in Superior Court and the Court of Appeal, Wedbush paid Mr. Kelleher $4.2 million (with interest) and delivered his options.

Mr. Commins and others in the firm successfully represented Purple Wine Company, LLC in the sale of its Mark West Wine Brand and inventory to Constellation Brands U.S. Operations, Inc. for a purchase price of $160 million in 2012.

The firm has represented numerous individual claimants harmed by broker misconduct.  Mary Mohorovich was a kind woman in her 80s who worked all her life and was in an assisted living facility.  Her broker had taken advantage of her.  Other firms looked at her case and estimated her damages in the several-hundred-thousand-dollar range.  Mr. Commins and Mr. Wallis traced all her assets and found her losses to be in the seven figures.  They sued the broker and his firm in Mohorovich v. Khulow and LPL Financial LLC in October 2016 and settled in mediation in July 2017 with the return of all Ms. Mohorovich’s lost income and assets, restoring her dignity and affording her the ability to meet the substantial financial obligations of continued institutional care.   (They also obtained a default judgment against the broker individually for over $6 million in April 2017.)

In 2019 Mr. Commins won an unusual FINRA award in favor of a responding broker in a forgivable note case, Oppenheimer v. Roche.

Mr. Commins has been mediating cases successfully for over 20 years.  After representing Codera Wine Group, Inc. for a decade as outside counsel, he was asked to mediate the diverging interests of its shareholders.  This process led to the successful sale of the Blackstone brand and related assets in October 2001 for approximately $140 million.

Since then, he has mediated hundreds of cases.  Most of these have been commercial and securities disputes, but he has also mediated employment, insurance, real estate, construction defect and personal injury cases across a range of size and complexity.

Mr. Commins is certified as a FINRA mediator and arbitrator.

Mr. Commins graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1980 with an A.B. in Economics. In 1982, he received an M.A. in Italian from Middlebury College in Vermont and Florence, Italy.  And in 1986 he received his J.D. from the University of San Francisco.  He then clerked for the Hon. Laurence D. Kay in the San Francisco Superior Court, Criminal Division, before starting work at Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May.  In 1987 he started this firm.

Mr. Commins speaks Italian and Swedish.

He is also a fifth dan black belt in both Taekwondo and Yongmudo and is an instructor in the University of California Martial Arts Program.

David H S Commins

“Over the past 20 years, I have had the opportunity to observe David Commins from two perspectives: as a jury strategist and as a client.  As a strategist, I work with many of the country’s best trial lawyers, and I consider David to be among this small group.  His calm demeanor and quiet confidence are obvious the minute you meet him, and are clearly appreciated by his clients, his jurors, and his opposing counsel.  David approaches each case with a rare combination of advocacy and common sense.  So, when my company needed a lawyer — and when I personally needed one — David was the obvious choice.”

Chris Ritter
Chief of Visual Trial Strategy and General Counsel
The Focal Point LLC