John E. O'Brien Jr.


  • Overview


    John O'Brien serves as plaintiff's counsel to insurers (property and casualty subrogation) and other corporate clients (high deductible/self-insured entities) in complex tort, product liability, and business litigation as well as in commercial landlord/tenant litigation. Mr. O'Brien also leads the investigation of large property damage incidents arising from fires, explosions, water damage, water intrusion, equipment failure, construction defects, and design and engineering failures.

    Mr. O'Brien's litigation experience includes private arbitrations (for example, Arbitration Forums, Inc.), jury trials in the Massachusetts Superior Court, and appeals before the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

    Mr. O'Brien's subject matter experience includes electrical systems (residential, commercial, and power transmission), electronics, sprinkler systems, fire alarm systems, roofing systems, domestic and industrial plumbing systems, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, and municipal water/sewer mains. He has handled construction defect cases against architects, engineers, builders, and subcontractors. In addition, he has handled product liability claims involving household appliances, medical laboratory equipment, and industrial equipment. Mr. O'Brien also has experience in matters involving breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, conversion, fraud, and unfair trade practices.

  • Experience
    • Experience


      • Prosecuted insurance subrogation claim in connection with total destruction by fire of newly renovated luxury home. Litigation involved dispute about the extent of a general contractor's liability for negligent conduct of a subcontractor.
      • Prosecuted insurance subrogation claim against municipal utility contractor for failure of a 16-inch water main that flooded two commercial buildings in the City of Boston.
      • Prosecuted insurance subrogation claim against excavation contractor in connection with the failure of a water supply pipe during site work operations at a construction project.
      • Prosecuted claim for insurer and building owner from installer of fire alarm system after total destruction by fire of a warehouse.
      • Appellate

      • Succeeded in defending district court's entry of preliminary injunction prohibiting payment of $4.5 million in settlement fund to corporate alter egos of judgment debtors that had been found liable to our clients, judgment creditors, for breach of contract, conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, and violation of Mass. Gen. Laws c. 93A.
      • Other Experiences

      • Prosecuted claim for commercial landlord against tenant for damage to building from tenant's removal of fixtures at the end of the lease term.
      • Prosecuted claim for insurer and hotel group in connection with massive water damage incident that interrupted the hotel's operation during the height of the business season. Litigation involved complex engineering dispute about whether construction defects exacerbated the spread of water.
      • Prosecuted claim for insurer and motor vehicle distributor for damage to newly imported cars caused by discharge of dust from a factory.
      • Prosecuted claim for insurer and retail clothing company for damage to inventory and interruption of business activity caused by adjacent tenant.
    • Professional Associations

      Professional Associations

      American Bar Foundation

      Massachusetts Bar Association (1998 - present)

      Boston Bar Association (1998 - present)

      American Bar Association (1998 - present)

      National Association of Subrogation Professionals
      New England Chapter Committee (2005 - present)
      Chair of New England Chapter Committee (2012 - present)
    • Honors + Awards

      Honors + Awards

      Received special recognition and award at the National Association of Subrogation Professionals Annual Conference in San Diego, California (11/4/2013), for innovative New England Chapter meeting held earlier in the year

    • Community Involvement

      Community Involvement

      Pan Massachusetts Challenge (PMC)
      Volunteer Crew Leader (2004 - present)
      Volunteer (2002 - 2004)
    • Publications


      "Subrogation Waiver Applies after Construction Concludes," published in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, quoted in article by Eric T. Berkman (8/3/2010)

      "Duty to Report a Fire," published in Subrogator (Spring/Summer 2007)

      "Privacy Concerns in Property Subrogation," published in Subrogator, the article explores the role of subrogation professionals in preventing disclosure of personal and/or confidential information of an insured to outside parties (Spring/Summer 2011)

    • Presentations


      "Proving General Contractor Liability for Subcontractor Negligence," at National Association of Subrogation Professionals Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada; encore presentation via webinar (8/14/2013) hosted by the National Association of Subrogation Professionals (11/13/2012)

      "Waivers and Disclaimers of Liability," at Annual Conference of the National Association of Subrogation Professionals in Orlando, Florida (11/14/2006)

      "Disclaimers of Liability," at New England Chapter Meeting of the National Association of Subrogation Professionals in Quincy, Massachusetts (6/7/2006)

    • News

      R+C in the News

      • February 11, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Join Annual Walk to the Hill

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      • February 18, 2015

        Despite Blizzard, Boston Lawyers Participate in Annual Walk to the Hill

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      • July 27, 2011

        Attorneys Author Article on Privacy Concerns in Property Subrogation

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      • December 2, 2009

        Robinson & Cole’s Subrogation Team Attends Annual Conference

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      R+C News Releases

      • December 11, 2013

        Robinson & Cole Elects Four New Partners and Promotes Six Counsel

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