John O’Connor is a multifaceted trial lawyer who earnestly defends corporations in complex, high-dollar commercial disputes and defense contractors in national defense and foreign relations litigation. He also skillfully represents insurance companies in litigation and arbitration concerning property and liability insurance coverage issues. John served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps for ten years, including three years as a judge advocate, and his clients appreciate John’s efficient and no-nonsense style of litigation, as well as his deep knowledge of legal issues relating to national defense litigation and insurance coverage.
On the corporate side, John litigates disputes among shareholders and members of limited liability companies over ownership and/or control of business operations, as well as disputes between companies and their departing employees. He handles contract disputes, fraud claims arising from business transactions, and disputes between franchisors and franchisees. Defense contractors rely on John in a variety of matters relating to their performance of government contracts. These representations have involved defense of a government contractor against common-law tort claims, claims brought under the Alien Tort Statute and Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and disputes with other contractors concerning subcontract performance as well as the parties’ respective obligations under contractor teaming agreements to jointly pursue government contract work.
John’s insurance practice involves disputes concerning the application of insurance policies to liabilities arising out of asbestos, silica, lead paint, environmental contamination, pharmaceutical products, and other toxic torts. He also represents insurance companies in bankruptcy proceedings as well as against allegations of bad faith or violation of statutory claims-handling practices.
John leads Steptoe’s participation in the District of Columbia Housing Right to Counsel Project, in which John and other Steptoe lawyers provide pro bono representation to tenants facing eviction from subsidized housing. On October 18, 2017, John received the Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award for his work on the project from the four legal services providers that coordinate the project.
- District of Columbia
- J.D., University of Maryland School of Law, 1995, with honors, Order of the Coif, William Strobel Thomas Prize
- M.S.Sc., Syracuse University, 1995, International Relations
- B.A., University of Rochester, 1988
Areas of Practice
- Defended defense contractor against tort suits arising out of Abu Ghraib prison scandal, which resulted in ruling by DC Circuit that the plaintiffs’ claims were preempted.
- Successfully defended general liability insurer against bad faith claims arising from a $55 million construction defect judgment entered against the policyholder.
- Successfully represented major American telecommunications company in $2 billion fraud suit brought against owners of Turkish telecommunications company.
- Regularly represents court-appointed liquidator of major insurance company in addressing coverage disputes arising our of claims asserted in liquidation.
3rd National Forum on Insurance Allocation, American Conference Institute, June 23, 2016
News & Publications
March 4, 2019
October 12, 2018
June 6, 2018
May 29, 2018
October 19, 2017
July 8, 2016
June 29, 2016
Albany Law Review, Volume 79 Issue 1
April 15, 2016
By: John O'Connor
Sports Litigation Alert
October 16, 2015
By: John O'Connor
DC Access to Justice Commission, High Volume Courts Subcommittee (2018)
District of Columbia Housing Right to Counsel Project, Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award (2017)
- United States Marine Corps, Officer (1988-1998), Judge Advocate (1995-1998)