Scott O’Connell is chair of the Litigation Department and a member of the firm's Management Committee. He is a trial lawyer known for his perseverance, strategic thinking and value driven service for clients. Scott focuses in class action and aggregate litigation and corporate governance and control contests. He is currently representing financial services and health care companies in high exposure disputes with associated significant reputational harm in parallel civil, criminal and regulatory proceedings.
What do you focus on?
I currently focus my practice in three areas of risk exposure:
Class Action Defense and Aggregate Litigation
Class actions are costly and disruptive because they attack products, services and business processes. The exposure can be substantial. I work closely with businesses to find and implement solutions that limit accruing exposure while also defending the case.
- I have defended financial service companies from consumer class actions in 12 different states. Most recently, I successfully upheld a class action waiver and compelled arbitration in an opinion from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals en banc in which co-defendants reportedly settled the same claims for in excess of $100 million.
- In my largest case last year, I acted as co-counsel for a consortium of over 300 health care providers and a class of 6,000 in an action that challenged state legislation that attempted to confiscate $110 million in a quasi-governmental malpractice defense fund. After four years of battles in multiple courts and regulatory and legislative forums, we secured a judgment and the return of $110 million to the class.
- I’ve also defended companies in multiple federal courts around the country from aggregate claims alleging Nuisance, Wage & Hour and Unfair and Deceptive Trade practices.
Crisis Intervention, Internal Investigations and Corporate Victim Protection
Catastrophic events, health and safety issues or corporate integrity matters can destroy a company. Intervening quickly to manage the parallel criminal, regulatory and civil proceedings as well as the challenges presented by social media is essential to restore the brand. I have considerable experience counseling companies through these types of emergent situations.
- I currently represent a New Hampshire hospital as coordinating counsel in the criminal, regulatory, and civil actions arising from the infection of patients with Hepatitis-C allegedly by a former employee at the hospital. Acted as lead counsel in the defense against a putative class action brought by a plaintiff who claimed to be one of 32 patients infected while undergoing medical procedures at the hospital. The plaintiff sought formation of two sub-classes: one for patients that tested positive for the same strain of Hepatitis-C as the former employee, and another for any patients of the hospital who were contacted in 2012 and told that they may be infected with Hepatitis-C, but tested negative. Class certification was denied under both theories. Separate individual actions are pending.
Directors’ and Officers’ Liability, Governance and Fiduciary Litigation
I counsel and defend directors, officers, members and trustees of public, private and nonprofit charitable institutions for claims arising from their duties. I represented outside directors of a bank holding company sued for civil RICO, joint ventures in technology companies for breach of fiduciary duties and shareholders in closely held businesses in control contests.
- I currently represent the directors and officers of Massachusetts public company in a class action brought by shareholders claiming breaches of fiduciary duty arising from a planned merger with another company.