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Michael J. O'Neill

  Michael J. O'Neill

MONeill@romalaw.com
213-706-8000

One of the founding members of Robie & Matthai, Michael O'Neill has practiced in the field of insurance law for over thirty years. His expertise extends to both first and third-party claims in all types of personal lines and commercial coverages. He has tried a number of bad faith cases in both the state and federal courts.

Michael has assisted in the resolution of numerous claims and represented carriers in lawsuits arising out of the wildfires in San Diego, Malibu, Laguna Beach, San Bernardino and Lake Tahoe. He has defended claims of insurance agent malpractice, including those asserting under insurance. He has served as coverage counsel in the evaluation and resolution of complex claims arising out of multiple earthquakes including the Northridge, Landers/Big Bear and Sierra Madre earthquakes.

Michael is a regular panelist in the field of insurance law, the author of a treatise chapter on business interruption losses, and an acknowledged expert on the appropriate adjustment of first party claims. He has regularly litigated the issues created when a purported policy limits demand is followed by a substantial judgment in third-party cases.

 
 

Michael has also served as a part of the appellate team on numerous insurance issues. He works closely with Natalie Kouyoumdjian to be certain that even the most complex coverage issues are clearly explained so that the Appellate Court will recognize the ramifications of their opinion.

Favorite Cases

Michael obtained a defense verdict in a bad faith jury trial in which the plaintiff asked for millions in contract benefits. In the same action, despite plaintiff's demand for over $850,000 in damages for a related breach of a bailment contract, and admitted liability on that portion of the case, Mike convinced the jury to award only $85,000.

Michael co-tried a six week bad faith case in which the plaintiff received a nominal award of contract benefits but took nothing as a result of a Code of Civil Procedure section 998 offer. The plaintiff now owes the firm's client over $70,000 in costs.

Michael's motion for summary judgment was granted and upheld in a reported decision in which the court of appeal explained and clarified critical issues of law and duty in favor of the carrier. (Everett v. State Farm (2008) 162 Cal. App. 4th 649.)

Addressing substantial legal issues involving a mortgagee's claim for contract benefits and a competing claim by a purchaser, Michael obtained summary judgment which resulted in a favorable appellate decision in favor of the carrier. (Washington Mutual v. State Farm (2009) 130 Cal. App. 4th 639.)

Memberships

  • State Bar of California
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • Association of Southern California Defense Counsel
  • Defense Research Institute

Distinctions

  • Senior Fellow: Litigation Counsel of America
  • Listed, Southern California Super Lawyers, 2005-present

Service to the Courts

  • Moderator Los Angeles Superior Court 2008-2010

Publications

  • Co-Author, "Point/Counterpoint: Do Dictionary Definitions Control Insurance Policy Interpretation?" California Litigation (2010).
  • Co-Author: "Business Interruption and Indirect Loss," Insuring Real Property, Matthew Bender, 1989

Speaking Engagements

  • "Preparing for Expert Testimony," California Conference of Arson Investigators, 2008.
  • Moderator, "What Civil Court Judges Want You to Know," National Business Institute Seminar, 2008.
  • "Hot Issues in Insurance Law," Orange County Bar Association, 2008
  • "Advanced Expert Witness Deposition Tactics," National Business Institute Seminar, 2007
  • "Bad Faith Insurance Claims in California," National Business Institute Seminar, 2006
  • "Insurance Bad Faith Claims in California," Lorman Education Services Seminar, 2006
  • "Getting Scientific and Expert Testimony Admitted Into Evidence," National Business Institute Seminar, 2005
  • "Recognizing and Responding to Potentially Fraudulent Losses," Property Loss Research Bureau/Liability Insurance Research Bureau, Regional Adjusters Conference, 2005
  • "The Mold Challenge in California," National Business Institute Seminar, 2003, 2004
  • "Discovery in California Bad Faith Litigation," National Business Institute Seminar, 2004
  • "Superior Deposition Strategies in California Civil Trial Practice," National Business Institute Seminar, 2004
  • "Emerging Issues in California Indoor Air Quality and Toxic Mold Litigation," National Business Institute Seminar, 2002, 2004
  • California Conference of Arson Investigators, 2001
  • "Insurance Coverage Law in California," National Business Institute Seminar, 1999, 2002 and 2003
  • "Bad Faith Litigation in California," National Business Institute Seminar, 1998, 2000 and 2001
  • "Catastrophe Update: Legal Issues and Practical Perspectives," ABA Property Insurance Law Committee's Regional Meeting, 1997

Education

  • University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, J.D., 1982
  • Judicial Extern for Justice Edwin Regan of the Third District Court of Appeal, 1981
  • University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1977

Admissions

  • California, 1982
  • U.S. District Court: Northern, 2009, Southern, 1986, Eastern, 1987 and Central Districts of California, 1984
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, 1982
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1982
 


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