In July, aviation lawyers Terry O’Reilly and James P. Collins were billing their firm, O’Reilly & Collins, as “the premier trial law firm in Northern California.” They claimed the firm had the financial resources to take on any fight, and that it was “one of the most successful plaintiff’s trial law firms in the United States.” O’Reilly was a long-time member of the prestigious Inner Circle of Advocates, and had just been named a Northern California Super Lawyer. To celebrate, Collins and O’Reilly published ads showing the pair posing in front of Terry O’Reilly’s very expensive 1954 Bentley race car, talking about all the cases they have won.
But today, O’Reilly & Collins is in bankruptcy, leaving its creditors holding the bag for millions. All the firm’s lawyers, except for O’Reilly himself, have scattered.
Court records show that the San Mateo aviation firm has passed off some of its clients to John Kristensen, one of O’Reilly’s former associates. Other cases have been handed off to Jack Stein of the Boccardo firm in San Jose. Terry O’Reilly himself is holding on to at least one case involving the Pilatus crash at Butte, Montana.
O’Reilly continues to be assisted by Pamela Stevens, a lawyer who, according to California State Bar records, bilked her injured clients, including children, out of millions in settlements. The Bar pulled Stevens’ license in 2002, finding that she posed a danger to the public.
In July, a San Francisco jury returned a verdict against O’Reilly & Collins for $3.2 million. The judge sanctioned O’Reilly personally for more than $107,000 for failing to turn over documents and then giving false testimony about it.
The firm still has its office in San Mateo, but its website has been taken down. Since the verdict, O’Reilly says that he has moved out of state.
O’Reilly has paid neither the judgment nor the sanctions order.