Michael O’Connor chairs the firm’s Insurance Recovery group. In his fourth decade of practice as a commercial litigator and trial lawyer, Michael has successfully prosecuted and defended claims in a wide variety of commercial cases, including the full spectrum of insurance policyholder matters, as well as entertainment industry and First Amendment law claims. Michael has secured significant verdicts and settlements for clients ranging from well-known Fortune 500 companies to entrepreneurs and individuals.
Michael helps policyholders to manage their insurance programs and enforce their coverage rights. He works diligently with his clients and their insurance companies early on to make sure that their claims are presented in a way that mitigates the possibility of a dispute, and maximizes the potential for coverage. His proactive approach to insurance claims has proven to be an advantage to his clients, who would prefer to avoid a dispute altogether and maintain their working relationships with their insurance providers. Michael is also retained to advise on the negotiation of policy coverage and exclusions, as well as on the insurance implications of ongoing business operations and transactions.
Over the course of his career, Michael has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars of unpaid claims and damages on behalf of policyholders. His trial victories include multimillion dollar judgments and recoveries against insurance companies. Michael’s experience includes dispute resolution and litigation involving the full array of bad faith violations, ranging from the denial of coverage and payment; to improper reserving, pricing practices, claims investigation and delay of benefits; to the failure to defend the policyholder and professional negligence. Moreover, Michael is involved in the resolution of motion picture production/cast insurance; E&O and D&O claims; and commercial property claims such as business interruption, completed operations and builder’s risk, among others.
In addition to insurance coverage, Michael has represented a number of entertainment companies and broadcasters in claims ranging from copyright and trademark cases to profit participation and contract disputes. His landmark First Amendment victories include McCollum v. CBS, et al., a leading case establishing a First Amendment defense to the wrongful death claim filed by the family of a teenager who committed suicide while listening to rock lyrics.
Michael is a frequent speaker before legal and other professional organizations. He has been featured as an accomplished commentator on The Today Show and in The New York Times.
Defending a profit participation claim arising from the foreign distribution of an Academy Award-winning motion picture.
Representing several of the nation’s top commercial construction companies in coverage disputes nationwide, Michael has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements of bad faith and other insurance claims concerning builder’s risk, property insurance and other construction-related policies.
Securing a judgment on a multi-million dollar claim for a bad faith denial of insurance coverage arising from an underlying claim of copyright infringement concerning the motion picture “Contact.”
On behalf of a California trade association, securing a judgment following trial against several insurance companies for breach of contract and bad faith arising out of a claim brought by members of the trade association.
On behalf of a real estate investment group, securing a bad faith verdict after trial against insurance companies over claims arising out of the purchase and sale of investment properties.
Secured a precedent-setting decision from the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, confirming a $2.7 million judgment against an insurance carrier for the carrier's failure to defend its insureds in a lawsuit for intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, intentional interference with the contract, and slander of title brought by Francis Ford Coppola.
In a record-setting result on behalf of national hotel chain, American Motor Inns, Michael secured a $23 million jury verdict for insurance bad faith claims against Harbor Insurance Co., then one of the largest insurance bad faith awards in California history. See “Jury Hits Insurer Hard for Putting Blame on Uninsured Subsidiary,” 2-4 Inside Litigation at 3 (Prentice Hall Law & Bus. 1988).
On behalf of major motion picture companies and broadcasters, successfully defending profit participation claims brought by participants. Most recently, in December 2010, Michael secured a judgment after trial in a profit participation case brought by a producer against a major motion picture company over the picture “Mortal Kombat.”
On behalf of a motion picture production company, Michael secured a defense judgment after trial regarding rights disputes with a best-selling author over motion pictures based upon the “Left Behind” series.
On behalf of major motion picture companies and broadcasters, successfully defending “idea submission” and copyright cases, including disposing of matters on summary judgment and through trial.
On behalf of a national radio group, securing a defense verdict after trial in an age-discrimination case, brought by an on-air radio personality.
On behalf of a commercial production company, securing a defense verdict after trial in an action for interference with a contract involving the services of a director.
Named by Los Angeles Magazine as a Southern California Super Lawyer and one of “Southern California’s Best Lawyers.”
The Best Lawyers in America© (Woodward/White, Inc.), Commercial Litigation and Entertainment Law.
Included in the Irish Legal 100, 2014-2016.
Recognized nationally by Chambers USA in the Insurance: Policyholder area, 2015-2016.