Michael D. O’Connell has litigated a broad range of complex issues throughout the U.S., in cases dealing with complex commercial transactions, claims of bad faith and unfair trade practices, employment issues, bankruptcy, construction accidents and virtually every other type of matter that might land at the doorstep of his business and insurance clients. He has served as national coordinating counsel for clients with significant product liability exposure, including asbestos products, tire and automotive products, and construction machinery. He has extensive experience in dealing with environmental issues, both in the construction litigation context and in real estate development. He has relations with a broad range of experts, whether technical, financial or otherwise, who can come to the aid of his clients in the litigation context. He has handled insurance defense work for multiple property and casualty liability insurers ever since he began the practice of law. He has extensive experience in Intellectual Property Law, including trademarks, service marks and copyrights, as well as patent law litigation.
On the local level, his practice provides a link between the litigation arena and the real estate, insurance and commercial practices. He has been instrumental in closing commercial deals involving the purchase and sale of movie theaters, radio stations, restaurants and the like. He has extensive experience in real estate development, including the regulatory processes. He has served as outside counsel for both title insurers and liability insurers, underscoring his understanding of the transactional side of the equation as well as the litigation scene. He has extensive appellate experience, having argued numerous matters before the Connecticut Appellate and Supreme Courts, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as submitting amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court. He testified on a number of occasions as an expert witness on the standard of care applicable to real estate attorneys.
Attorney O’Connell represents numerous Fortune 500 and other national manufacturing companies, in addition to Connecticut-oriented businesses. He also has an Indian law practice and the firm serves as general counsel to a state recognized Indian tribe. He is the head of the appellate practice for the firm. He has been appointed by the court as a guardian ad litem in family trust disputes. Published decisions include: Hoffman v. Vecchitto (In re Vecchitto), United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 2000 U.S. App. LEXIS 25439, decided October 11, 2000; FDIC v. Ann-High Assocs., United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 129 F.3rd 113; Golden Hill Paugussett Tribe of Indians v. Weicker, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 39 F.3rd 51 (1994); Thibodeau v. Design Group One Architects, LLC, Supreme Court of Connecticut, 260 Conn. 691; Powers v. Olson, Supreme Court of Connecticut, 252 Conn. 98; Golden Hill Paugussett Tribe of Indians v. Town of Trumbull, Supreme Court of Connecticut, 247 Conn. 918; Willow Springs Condo. Ass’n v. Seventh BRT Dev. Corp., Supreme Court of Connecticut, 245 Conn. 1; Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Ferraro, Supreme Court of Connecticut, 244 Conn. 402; Lawson v. Whitey’s Frame Shop, Supreme Court of Connecticut, 241 Conn. 678; Presidential Capital Corp. v. Reale, Supreme Court of Connecticut, 240 Conn. 623; Golden Hill Paugussett Tribe of Indians v. Town of Southbury, Supreme Court of Connecticut, 231 Conn. 563; Hartford Whalers Hockey Club v. Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co., Supreme Court of Connecticut, 231 Conn. 276; Zieger v. Village Brook Plaza Ltd. Partnership, Supreme Court of Connecticut, 224 Conn. 543; Union Trust Co. v. Heggelund, Supreme Court of Connecticut, 219 Conn. 620; Johnny Cake, Inc. v. Zoning Bd. Of Appeals, Supreme Court of Connecticut, 180 Conn. 296; Sullivan v. Bonafonte, Supreme Court of Connecticut, 172 Conn. 612; Pecker v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., Supreme Court of Connecticut, 171 Conn. 443; Doran v. Wolk, Supreme Court of Connecticut, 170 Conn. 226; Peterson v. Connecticut Attorneys Title Ins. Co., 142d Conn. App. 34; PIC Associates, LLC v. Greenwich Place GL Acquisition, LLC, 128 Conn. App. 151; Trinity United Church v.Levesque, et al, Appellate Court of Connecticut, 88 Conn. App. 661; Thibodeau v. Design Group One Architects, Appellate Court of Connecticut, 64 Conn. App. 573; Golden Hill Paugussett Tribe of Indians v. Weicker, Appellate Court of Connecticut, 51 Conn. App. 552; Golden Hill Paugussett Tribe of Indians v. Town of Trumbull, Appellate Court of Connecticut, 49 Conn. App. 711; Peerless Ins. Co. v. Tucciarone, Appellate Court of Connecticut, 48 Conn. App. 160; New London Fed. Sav. Bank v. Tucciarone, Appellate Court of Connecticut, 48 Conn. App. 89; Kingsley v. Sadi International Co., Appellate Court of Connecticut, 5 Conn. App. 76; County Lumber, Inc. v. Newington Builders Finish Co., Appellate Court of Connecticut, 4 Conn. App. 589; Eugene Steinberg Co. v. Zalcmanis, Superior Court of Connecticut (Appellate Division), 38 Conn. Supp. 452.
Attorney O’Connell received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Notre Dame, and his Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law. He has been in practice in Connecticut since 1972. However, because of the nature of his practice, he has appeared on behalf of clients in approximately 15 other jurisdictions, on a pro hac vice basis.
Upon graduation from Law School, Attorney O’Connell entered private practice with Danaher, Lewis & Tamoney, and has been in the private practice of law in Connecticut ever since. His practice is concentrated in the areas of civil litigation, real estate, commercial transactions, environmental law, employment law, and Native American law. His trial experience includes significant construction and bonding, zoning, insurance defense, commercial and bankruptcy litigation, as well as complex product liability defense.
He serves on the ABA Committee on Trial Techniques and is past president of the Connecticut Defense Lawyers Association. He has also been appointed to the Construction Equipment Product Liability Subcommittee of the Defense Research Institute (DRI) and is the Chair of the Expert Witness section of the DRI Technology Committee. He has been elected to the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (FDCC) and lectures regularly on numerous areas of civil litigation practice. He served for several years as the Chair of the Intellectual Property Section of the FDCC.
Attorney O’Connell’s talents were recognized when he was awarded the 1998 Neiditz Award for the best Connecticut Supreme Court Appellate Brief. In addition, Business for Downtown Hartford named him Business Activist of 2004. He is rated by his peers, in the Martindale-Hubbell national directory of attorneys, as A (Legal ability – Very high to preeminent) V (General ethical standards – Very high) and has been designated as a Connecticut Super Lawyer in Connecticut SuperLawyers.®. for the years of 2007-2009 and 2013 – 2017 as a General Litigation Attorney. These designations are the result of a rigorous screening process that consists of peer evaluations, background and experience, and professional achievement. For details, go to SuperLawyers®.
Attorney O’Connell has been a resident of Hartford since 1987 and has been a resident of the Greater Hartford area all of his life. While a resident of West Hartford, he served on various local commissions including the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and the Charter Revision Commission. He was the Democratic candidate for the 19th Assembly District in 1978. Attorney O’Connell lives in the West End of Hartford and has been a long time member of the West End Civic Association and has been closely involved in West End civic activities and concerns. He is currently the Vice-President of Business for Downtown Hartford and is on the Executive Committee of the Hartford Business Improvement District. He is an appointed member of the Hartford Historic Preservation Committee.
He and his wife, Gwen, have been active in educational matters, serving at one time or another as Presidents of the Loomis Chaffee School Parents Association, Presidents of the Dickinson College Parents Committee and Presidents of the Lehigh University Parents Committee.