Douglas S. Saeltzer

Douglas S. Saeltzer

San Francisco, California

Mr. Saeltzer specializes in resolving large cases on behalf of seriously injured people by way of trial or settlement.  He prides himself on holding powerful entities responsible for the wrongs they committed.   Mr. Saeltzer’s meticulous approach to the preparation and trial of cases has resulted in over $50,000,000 in jury verdicts and settlements for his clients.

Mr. Saeltzer began his legal career as a prosecutor in the United States Army.  After graduating from the University of California at Hastings College of the Law in 1994, Mr. Saeltzer accepted a direct commission into the United States Army Judge Advocate General Corps.  After attending the U.S. Army  Airborne School, he was selected for the 82nd Airborne Division and assigned responsibility for prosecuting criminal cases.  After one year as a trial counsel his Commander appointed him Senior Trial Counsel responsible for overseeing all 82nd Airborne Division criminal prosecutions. Mr. Saeltzer was honorably discharged at the rank of Captain, and his military achievements include receiving the Meritorious Service Medal for his work as a prosecuting attorney.

After leaving the Army Mr. Saeltzer returned to San Francisco and brought his extensive trial experience to Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger where he has been representing serious injured clients since 1998.  In 2011 he was honored as the ” Trial Lawyer of the Year” by the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association for a $12,200,000 jury verdict obtained on behalf of a teenage girl left in a coma following a tragic accident.  The pretrial settlement offer in that case was less than one tenth of the eventual jury award.  Mr. Saeltzer has also been successful in creating law that protects people who are injured through the carelessness of others.  Following a successful jury trial in 2006 Mr. Saeltzer fought to protect his client’s recovery at the California Court of Appeal and changed the law so that all injured workers are now assured full recovery for their lost wages.

Mr. Saeltzer’s experience and legal abilities are also sought outside of the courtroom.  He is currently an assistant professor on the faculty at the University of California at Hastings College of the Law, where he has taught personal injury litigation since 2003. He also serves on the faculty of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy training new lawyers in courtroom skills and advocacy.  Mr. Saeltzer has been an invited lecturer for the Continuing Education of the State Bar of California, San Francisco Bar Association, San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association and the USLAW Network’s annual client conference.  He has also served as an expert witness on case valuation and served a court appointed mediator.

Mr. Saeltzer has been continuously selected as a Northern California Super Lawyer since 2010.  Mr. Saeltzer was elected to membership in the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) in 2010.   Since 2011 he has been voted as one of The Best Lawyers in America by his peers.  He is also “AV” peer review rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, which is the highest such ranking for legal ability and ethics available to an individual attorney. He is also an active member of the American Association for Justice, Consumer Attorneys of California and the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association.

Outside of the courtroom Mr. Saeltzer can be found spending time with his wife and three children.

Court of Appeal Decisions

Smock v State of California (2006) 138 Cal.App.4th 883

Verdicts & Settlements


Liou v. State of California
Dangerous Condition of Public Property
$12,200,000 Jury Verdict

Anderson v. County of Stanislaus
Government Liability – Motor Vehicle
$8,250,000 Settlement

Confidential v. Confidential
$6,500,000 Settlement

Worker v. Property Management Company
Construction Site Negligence
$6,000,000 Settlement

Child v HMO
Birth Injury/Medical Negligence
$4,750,000 Settlement

Bicyclist v. Product Manufacturer and Negligent Driver
Product Liability and Vehicular Negligence
$4,331,250 Settlement

Patient v. HMO
Medical Negligence
$4,000,000 Settlement

LaRocca v. Diablo Contractors, Inc., et. al.
Construction Negligence/Vehicular Negligence
$3,050,000 Settlement

Boilermaker v Refinery Owner
Industrial Negligence
$2,800,000 Settlement

Brock v. Bonifacio, et. al.
Vehicular Negligence/Products Liability
$2,800,000 Jury Verdict

Motorcyclist v. Automobile
Motor Vehicle Accident
$2,100,000 Settlement

Confidential v. Confidential
Products Liability
$2,000,000 Settlement

Minor Child v Hair Salon
$2,000,000 Settlement

Decedent’s Family v. Delivery Company, Roadway, and Estate of Negligent Driver
Wrongful death, Trucking negligence
$1,900,000 Settlement

Pedestrian v. Driver and Owner of Vehicle
Vehicular Negligence/Negligent Entrustment
$1,500,000 Settlement

Marquez v. Transportes Azteca De Oro
Bus Accident/Wrongful Death
$1,100,000 Settlement

Patient v. HMO
Medical Negligence
$1,100,000 Settlement

Driver v. Truck Company and Vehicle Manufacturer
Vehicular Negligence/Products Liability
$1,030,000 Settlement

Patient v. Doctor and Hospital
Medical Negligence
$1,000,000 Settlement

Student v. School District
Government Liability
$1,000,000 Settlement

O’Brien v Wheatley
Auto Accident
$431,569 Jury Verdict

Ludwig v. Yellow Cab
Vehicle Negligence
$416,894 Jury Verdict

Bradley v. Les Driving & Traffic School
Vehicular Negligence
$355,000 Jury Verdict

Smock v. State of California (Caltrans) and Driver
Dangerous Condition of Public Property; Vehicular Negligence
$288,000 Jury Verdict

Areas of Practice

  • Products Liability
  • Injury and Death Cases
  • Elder Abuse
  • Medical Negligence
  • Vehicular Negligence
  • Construction Site Injuries
  • Government Liability


  • University of California, Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, California
    • Law Journal: Constitutional Law Quarterly
  • University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California


  • Assistant Professor, Personal Injury Litigation, University of California, Hastings College of the Law
  • Faculty, National Institute of Trial Advocacy

Honors and Awards

  • Meritorious Service Medal, United States Army

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • American Association for Justice, Member
  • Consumer Attorneys of California, Member
  • San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, Member

Past Employment Positions

  • United States Army, JAGC, 82nd Airborne Division, Prosecutor