Donald J. Magilligan is a partner at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy based in the firm’s San Francisco office. Magilligan specializes in complex litigation involving wildfires, wrongful death, fraud, and other just causes.
Magilligan has tried 48 jury trials in a wide variety of cases ranging from business fraud to homicide. He honed his trial skills during a ten-year career as a prosecutor in Santa Clara County (2012–18) and Contra Costa County (2008–12). Magilligan was recognized for distinguished service by the Santa Clara District Attorney, San Jose Police Department Gang Intelligence Unit, and the San Jose Police Academy where he taught ethics, evidence, and search and seizure.
Magilligan received his J.D. from the University of San Francisco. While at U.S.F., he was a member of the Law Review, served on the Student Budget Committee, and received the CALI award for being the top student in Torts. Magilligan sat on the Faculty-Student Steering Committee at the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good. During law school, Magilligan learned to try cases by watching experienced prosecutors at the United States Attorney’s Office, San Mateo District Attorney’s Office, and San Francisco District Attorney’s Office during Kamala Harris’s tenure. Magilligan learned how to write during his clerkship with the Honorable Maura Corrigan of the Michigan Supreme Court.
Inspired by his time as a domestic violence prosecutor, Magilligan now sits on the board of directors for CORA, San Mateo County’s only provider of comprehensive intimate partner abuse prevention services including housing, counseling, and litigation support.
Magilligan is on the board of the Consumer Attorneys of California, an organization consisting of more than 3,000 California lawyers who represent the interests of consumers as plaintiffs in civil tort actions and in the California Legislature.
Magilligan also sits on the board of the San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association, which seeks justice for all by preserving and protecting the constitutional right to trial by jury for individuals in San Mateo County.
Magilligan is a frequent lecturer on topics including evidence, expert witnesses, and jury selection.
Dixie Fire Cases (2021–present): Magilligan is on the Executive Committee for individual plaintiffs in the Dixie Fire Cases, which have been coordinated in the Superior Court of California, San Francisco.
Kincade Fire Cases (2019–2023): Magilligan, Nabilah Hossain, Andrew Britton, and Frank Pitre represented dozens of victims of the Kincade Fire, which was caused by a mechanical failure of a jumper attached to a PG&E transmission tower. The CPM team took an active role in marshalling the evidence necessary to prove PG&E’s liability at trial. successfully settled their clients’ claims for confidential amounts in 2022 and 2023.
Fire Victim Trust (2020–present): Magilligan led CPM’s efforts to secure more than $200 million in awards from the Fire Victim Trust on behalf of victims of the Camp Fire (2018), North Bay Fires (2017), and Butte Fire (2015).
Colleen Cudd v. Tiffany Li (2022): Magilligan and Nabilah Hossain settled a wrongful death case brought by the heirs of Keith Green, a San Mateo County native who was brutally murdered. Before this civil settlement, Tiffany Li, the mother of Keith’s children, had escaped criminal justice. The settlement amount is confidential for the protection Green’s minor children.
Medawar v. Mameesh (2018): Anne Marie Murphy and Magilligan won a seven-figure jury verdict in San Mateo County on behalf of an international businessman who suffered over $1 million dollars in real estate losses caused by his local real estate investment partners. After a three-week trial, the jury found that the local partners had breached their partnership agreement with CPM’s client, and the jury rejected the defense cross-complaint seeking damages against the plaintiff—a complete victory for CPM’s client.
Shipyards Litigation (2018–present): Magilligan, Anne Marie Murphy, and Joe Cotchett were appointed lead counsel for settling a class action on behalf of 662 defrauded homeowners against a Fortune 500 Developer at the Shipyard in San Francisco.
Wrongful Death and Personal Injury Litigation (2018–present): Magilligan regularly secures seven- and eight-figure settlements on behalf of personal injury plaintiffs and families who have lost loved ones due to the negligence of others. Notable settlements include those on behalf of a young woman who suffered life-altering injuries in a Los Angeles car crash (eight figures), a single man that was killed in a San Joaquin County car crash (seven figures), an elderly couple who suffered broken bones in a Monterey County crash (seven figures), and many other cases where victims were seriously injured.
People v. Vargas-Alvarez, et al. (2017): Magilligan prosecuted three international drug traffickers in a three-month jury trial. The trial was the culmination of a multi-year DEA investigation which resulted in the seizure of approximately $4 million worth of cocaine, methamphetamine, and United States currency.
People v. Wright (2017): Magilligan convicted Adar Wright of first-degree murder for the stabbing of a romantic rival in St. James Park in San Jose.
People v. Bui (2016): Magilligan convicted Tham Bui of terrorizing his ex-girlfriend. After being dumped, Bui burnt down her house, torched her car, and conspired with a parolee to break into her house and kill her with a baseball bat. The ex-girlfriend survived the attempted murder and bravely testified at trial. Bui was sentenced to 256 years-to-life in state prison.
People v. Butler (2016): Magilligan convicted Andrew Butler, who shot and killed his child’s mother at point-blank range and dumped her body on Bascom Avenue in San Jose.
- Shipyard Homeowners Win Court Approval of $6.3 Million Dollar Settlement With Lennar and FivePoint, First Settlement for Homeowners03.30.2022
- Advocates for Justice, 03.02.2020
- Advocates for Justice, 01.29.2020
Honors & Awards
Honors & Recognitions
Irish Legal 100
San Mateo County Trial Lawyers, Board Member (2020 to present)
San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association – Board of Directors
San Mateo County Bar Association
Thomas More Society of San Francisco
Consumer Attorney’s of California (CAOC) – Board of Directors
Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse (CORA) – Board of Directors
J.D., University of San Francisco
B.S., Loyola Marymount University
- Clerk, Honorable Maura Corrigan of the Michigan Supreme Court
- California Superior Court
- United States Supreme Court
- Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
- Federal District Courts (Northern, Eastern, Southern, and Central Districts)