Gary Simms, Of Counsel
San Mateo County Attorney Gary Simms brings more than 35 years of practice to his role as the firm’s research and briefing attorney, specializing in appeals and complex law-and-motion matters. After seven years in San Francisco practicing antitrust and commercial litigation for major corporations, Mr. Simms was asked by the California Supreme Court to join the court as a Judicial Staff Attorney. He worked there for almost nine years, advising the justices and working with them to draft their opinions, which must be followed by all state courts in California.
In 1995, Mr. Simms returned to private practice and since then has focused on appeals and law-and-motion matters for plaintiffs seeking recovery for personal injuries, wrongful death, and other torts with extensive experience in air-crash litigation. He has also worked extensively with retired judges to assist them in their practices as consultants in civil appeals and as arbitrators and mediators.
The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization has certified Mr. Simms as an appellate specialist. He is also admitted to practice in Oregon, all California federal district courts, the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. He is also admitted to practice in Texas, but is currently on voluntary inactive status in that state. Mr. Simms has handled appeals and trial-court briefing and has presented oral arguments in California, Oregon, Texas, Arizona, Ohio, Illinois, and Georgia.
Mr. Simms’s advocacy has resulted in significant settlements and judgments for injured plaintiffs, and he has obtained appellate decisions that have created favorable law for personal-injury victims. For example, he obtained a landmark decision that imposed liability on aircraft owners and lessors for negligently entrusting an aircraft to a pilot with inadequate skills. (White v. Inbound Aviation (1999) 69 Cal.App.4th 910.) And he obtained a California Supreme Court decision that benefitted victims of medical malpractice by establishing the manner in which future damages are calculated. (Salgado v. County of Los Angeles (1998) 19 Cal.4th 629.) More recently, he obtained a decision by the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that an airline pilot can recover for emotional distress caused when his instrumentation failed and almost caused the aircraft to crash into San Francisco Bay, a crash that was narrowly averted only because of the crew’s skill. (Taylor v. Honeywell International, Inc. (2015) 599 Fed.Appx. 664.)
Mr. Simms has taught legal writing at the University of California Hastings College of Law and is a member of the Consumer Attorneys of California amicus curiae committee, which submits appellate briefs on behalf of tort victims. He is a contributing author for Plaintiff magazine and for California Litigation, a journal of the State Bar of California, and his work has been cited in the prestigious U.C.L.A. Law Review. (D. Bussel, Opinion First—Argument Afterwards, 61 U.C.L.A. L. Rev. 1194, 1197, fn. 9 (2014). Mr. Simms has been named several times as a “Northern California Super Lawyer”
Mr. Simms has also been active in community service, including volunteer work for the San Francisco Lawyers’ Committee for Legal Affairs, Broadcast Services for the Blind, San Rafael’s adult-literacy program, president of his church council, Boy Scouts of America, Rotary Club, and the Elks.
Before entering law school, Mr. Simms was an award winning photojournalist for the CBS Television affiliate (KHOU-TV) in Houston, Texas.
- J.D. magna cum laude, University of Houston Law Center, 1980
- Class Rank 7 of 350
- Order of the Barons National honor Society
- University of Houston Law Review Associate Editor
- American Jurisprudence Award in Corporate Law
- Winner—Freshman Moot Court Competition
- B.A. in Radio Television, University of Houston, 1970
- Public Relations Student Society of America—Chapter President
- Phi Chi Alpha professional fraternity—Member
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
- California, 1980
- Oregon, 1994
- Texas, 1985 (voluntary inactive status)
- United States Supreme Court, 1985
- United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 1980
- United States District Courts, various dates
- Northern, Eastern, Central, and Southern Districts of California
- District of Oregon
- Northern District of Texas
Professional and Bar Association Memberships
- Consumer Attorneys of California
- San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association
- San Mateo County Bar Association
Other Association and Clubs
- American Mensa
- Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks, Lodge No. 944
Swimming, Scuba, Hiking, and Travel