John D. O’Connor

John O'Connor has tried over 70 cases in federal and state venues throughout the country, with highly enviable success in complex, contentious disputes. Retained by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company as trial counsel in key cases, he achieved a pretrial dismissal in each concluded action. A former Federal Prosecutor, Mr. O'Connor was appointed lead outside counsel in certain S&L crisis litigation, defended a California Attorney General in campaign-related litigation, and successfully represented Golden State Warriors basketball Coach Don Nelson in significant contract claims. His greatest successes have been in the satisfactory resolution of closely-held business disputes.

Mr. O'Connor has held the highest Martindale-Hubbell "AV" rating for over 25 years, and has consistently been named a "SuperLawyer" by his Northern California peers. He has tried cases at the highest levels of practice since 1972.

Mr. O'Connor currently serves on the Board of Directors of Graduate Theological Union, The Lincoln Club of Northern California, and Alliance for Smiles, Inc.



  • Received a $165,000,000 counterclaim settlement in a hotel/casino lease dispute after an eight week jury trial in Nevada.
  • Received a directed verdict for his client in a Sherman Act §2, Antitrust action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California (Sacramento Division).
  • Obtained a defense verdict for his client in an unfair competition/fiduciary claim as well as a $1,300,000 verdict for his client on a defamation, wrongful termination counterclaim in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (San Francisco Division).
  • Defended an $8,000,000 container crane construction defect claim while receiving a $2.7 million verdict for his client on a counterclaim for bidding misrepresentation.
  • Obtained a defense verdict in a wrongful death brake failure case in which both parents were killed and the two orphans were severely injured.
  • Obtained a defense verdict in San Francisco County Superior Court with a paraplegic plaintiff.
  • Received a defense verdict for his client in a case alleging an uncompensated joint venture dissolution/expulsion in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburg Division).
  • Obtained a $500,000 verdict in a soft tissue injury case after the defense rejected a $33,000 arbitration award.
  • Successfully bench-tried several insurance coverage actions, both for insurers and insureds.
  • Obtained a defense verdict in an age discrimination case in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (San Francisco Division).
  • Obtained defense verdicts in the first four "civil RICO" fraud suits tried in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (San Francisco Division).
  • Wrote all "state of mind" and Fifth Amendment briefing regarding Patty Hearst for the government in the United States v.Hearst prosecution.
  • As co-counsel, obtained $3,000,000 and $3,600,000 defamation verdicts against a major insurance carrier, and successfully upheld the verdict on appeal through both the California Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court.
  • Successfully defended at trial a $109,000,000 claim for the death of a wealthy real estate entrepreneur in San Francisco County Superior Court.
  • As an Assistant United States Attorney, obtained guilty verdicts against each defendant brought to trial.
  • Obtained closure of banks, savings and loans and credit unions, followed by pursuit of director and officer, professional liability and bond claims on behalf of governmental institutions.
  • Both successful defense and successful pursuit of a wide range of claims against numerous and varied insurance industry entities, including property and casualty insurers; life and disability carriers; workers' compensation insurers; re-insurance and excess carriers; and insurance agents and brokers.
  • Obtained dismissals before trial of several "lender liability" suits against large commercial banks.
  • Successful defense of numerous civil rights suits against local, state and federal governmental entities.
  • Obtained favorable settlements and verdicts in employment cases on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants.
  • Obtained evictions on behalf of landlords in commercial leasing disputes.
  • Obtained highly favorable settlements on behalf of evicted commercial tenants.
  • Substantial experience in both defense and pursuit of construction defect claims.
  • Supervised firm trial lawyers in successful defense of over 5,000 asbestos cases; only one net payable plaintiff's verdict in approximately 100 trials.
  • Supervised innovative mass settlements of thousands of asbestos cases on terms favorable to client.
  • Significant experience in toxic tort cases addressing issues of medical and toxicological causation, liability, and damages involving tobacco, silicon, beryllium, aromatic hydrocarbons and other chemical products.
  • Obtained defense verdict in trial alleging significant automobile product manufacturing and design defect claims.
  • Performed extensive work for both plaintiffs and defendants in professional liability and director and officer litigation, including accounting, legal, financial, and medical issues.
  • Represented individual investors who opted out of class action securities litigation against Prudential Bache, and obtained recoveries several times greater than class action payments.
  • Defended and prosecuted derivative suits.



Mr. O'Connor graduated from the University of Notre Dame (A.B., 1968) magna cum laude and the University of Michigan Law School (J.D., 1972) cum laude. He was a member of the Michigan Law Review (1970-72) and Associate Editor in 1971-72. As a law student, he won several AmJur awards as the most outstanding student in several classes. He has twice been featured as Litigator in Profile by the Verdicts and Settlements publication for excellence in trial work. He has spoken at the Commonwealth Club, the Annual Convention of the American Bar Association, the San Francisco Bar Association and numerous other professional and civic groups.

Bar Admissions

  • Indiana, 1978
  • California, 1972
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of California
  • U.S. District Court Central District of California


  • The University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor, Michigan
    • J.D. - 1972
    • Honors: cum laude
    • Honors: Several AmJur Awards
  • University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana
    • A.B. - 1968
    • Honors: magna cum laude

Honors And Awards

  • Highest Martindale-Hubbell "AV" Rating
  • "SuperLawyer" by his Northern California Peers

Professional Associations And Memberships

  • American Bar Association, Member, Litigation and Tort and Insurance Law Section
  • Commercial Law League of America, Member
  • San Francisco Bar Association, Member