John O'Brien Jr.

John E. O'Brien Jr.


John E. O'Brien Jr.


  • Overview


    John O’Brien is plaintiff’s counsel to insurers and other businesses, and he focuses on two main practice areas: large loss property subrogation and business litigation. He is a member of the firm’s Insurance + Reinsurance Group.

    Large Loss Property Subrogation

    John oversees the investigation of large casualty losses for property insurers (as well as self-insured entities and high deductible policyholders) in claims arising from fires, explosions, water leaks, water intrusion, flooding, equipment failure, and weather-related damage including catastrophe ‘CAT’ losses, i.e., wind, rain, snow, and freeze events.

    John handles litigation on behalf of property insurers against a range of defendants, such as service companies, architects, engineers, developers, general contractors, subcontractors, and product manufacturers. He frequently handles matters related to defects in household appliances, building systems, medical laboratory equipment, and industrial equipment. He has extensive experience litigating cases involving breach of contract, breach of express and implied warranties, products liability, construction defects, professional malpractice, and negligence, including violations of standards of care found in codes, standards and industry practices.

    His subrogation recoveries for insurers have arisen from a wide range of subject matters including 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.

    John’s subrogation work includes complex issues, such as metallurgical defects in fasteners, plastics formulation and molding, civil and geotechnical engineering deficiencies during site development work, and mechanical engineering design deficiencies in energy recovery ventilation systems.

    Business Litigation

    John is plaintiff’s counsel to corporations in business litigation. He has a record of obtaining results for clients. He successfully represented a retail clothing company for damage to inventory and interruption of business activity caused by an adjacent tenant. Similarly, John represented a large corporation in a claim against a landlord for violations of a commercial lease agreement. His business litigation experience also includes claims for conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, unfair and deceptive trade practices, breach of contract, and violations of the Uniform Commercial Code.

  • Experience
    • Experience


        Large Loss Subrogation

      • Prosecuted insurance subrogation claim for total destruction by fire of newly renovated luxury home. Dispute centered on 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 both property insurer and building owner against the installer of fire alarm system after total destruction by fire of a warehouse.

      • Prosecuted claim for both the property insurer and a hotel group in connection with massive water damage incident that interrupted the hotel's operation during the height of the business season.

      • Business Litigation

      • Successfully upheld entry of a preliminary injunction prohibiting payment of $4.5 million in settlement funds to corporate alter egos of judgment debtors that had been found liable to our clients, judgment creditors.

      • Prosecuted commercial landlord’s claim against tenant for damage to building caused by removal of fixtures at the end of the lease term.

      • Appeals

      • Won publicized ruling from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court establishing that a product manufacturer had forfeited its personal jurisdiction defense by defending on the merits.

    • 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


      "Valuation of Large Contents/Personal Property Losses," co-presented as part of the National Association of Subrogation Professionals (NASP) Annual Conference (11/7/2023)
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      "Spotting Subrogation Opportunities in the Failure of Glass, Ceramics, and the Packaging of Glass Containers," at National Association of Subrogation Professionals Annual Conference in Reno, Nevada (11/10/2015)

      "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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