William V. O'Connor

William V. O'Connor


University of California, San Diego (B.A., 1998)
Georgetown University Law Center (J.D., 2001)

Bar Admissions


Bill O’Connor is a trial lawyer with significant experience in aviation, product liability, and commercial litigation matters. Bill serves as chair of the firm’s UAS/Drones Group and Airports & Aviation practice and is the head of litigation for our San Diego office. Clients appreciate not only Bill’s litigation and subject-area capabilities, but also his “mind for client service,” his “clear communication” style, and his “intelligence, judgment and pragmatism.”

Aviation Experience

As an experienced pilot, Bill understands the technical aspects involved in litigation arising from major commercial airline disasters, military and civilian helicopter accidents, and business jet crashes. Some of his significant air crash cases include Alaska Airlines Flight 261, Gol Flight 1907, and Flash Airlines Flight 604. He provides his airline, aerospace, and airport clients with practical and discerning representation in their high-profile aviation matters, and he helps his clients develop effective strategies for resolving these matters. Bill also represents his clients in commercial and regulatory matters, including airport and aircraft leasing issues, FAA enforcement proceedings, insurance disputes, and product liability prevention and counseling. His success in the aviation field has been recognized by Chambers USA and Legal 500.

Commercial Litigation and Insurance Experience

Bill’s litigation experience goes beyond the aviation field and includes the trial and arbitration of commercial disputes relating to patent license agreements, supply contracts, partnerships, real estate, and insurance coverage. His six-month secondment to the group general counsel of Amlin, PLC, the largest Lloyd’s insurer in the London market, has given him particular insight into the international insurance industry, and Bill routinely advises clients on coverage and risk management issues.

More About Bill

Bill serves on the Board of Governors for the San Diego chapter of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers and is a barrister in the Honorable J. Clifford Wallace Chapter of the American Inns of Court.

When he is not practicing law, Bill enjoys spending time with his growing family, flying, swimming, and playing the guitar.

Eastman Kodak v. Kyocera Corp.
Represented Kyocera Corporation in a patent/licensing dispute involving the Kodak digital imaging patent portfolio and Kyocera’s patent portfolio. Case terminated with a favorable settlement resolving all outstanding litigation against Kodak.
City of Santa Monica v. Federal Aviation Administration
Retained by the City of Santa Monica to advise it on issues arising from its future plans for the Santa Monica Airport, including litigation against the FAA.
Younan v. Rolls-Royce Corporation, et al.
Achieved a favorable settlement a week before trial in a lawsuit against MD Helicopters arising from the 2009 crash of an MD600N helicopter operated by the U.S. Border Patrol in California. The case settled after we obtained several key rulings on the scope of evidence that would be admitted at trial.
Alaska Airlines Flight 261 
Represented Alaska Airlines in multi-district litigation involving wrongful death and survival claims by heirs and estates of the 88 passengers and crew who perished in the crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 on January 31, 2000 near Point Mugu, California. Intensive fact and expert discovery led to a series of successful motions to remove punitive damages from the case, limit theories of recovery against the airline under the Warsaw Convention, stipulate liability to remove potentially harmful evidence from the trials, and prepare and try damages claims. Trial commenced in the MDL court in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, in ten wrongful death cases leading to settlements during trial of all but one of the remaining cases. After remand to the Central District of California and transfer back to the Northern District of California for trial, the remaining case settled.
Air France 447 Investigation and Litigation
Represented Honeywell International Inc. in litigation arising from the crash of Air France 447. The crash occurred on June 1, 2009, when an Airbus A330-203 went missing over the Atlantic Ocean on a flight from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Paris, France. All 228 passengers and crew perished in the crash. A successful motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens before Judge Charles Breyer in the Northern District of California resulted in the dismissal of all actions in favor of a French forum.
Chinook Helicopter Crash in Afghanistan (Getz v. Honeywell)
Obtained summary judgment based on the government contract defense for Honeywell International Inc. in litigation arising from the crash of an Army special operations Chinook in Afghanistan on February 17, 2007.  Eight people died and 14 were injured when the special operations Chinook crashed while returning from a mission pursuing a member of Al Qaeda.  In August 2011, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the decision ruling that Honeywell and the other government contractor defendants were not liable for the crash.
Alaska Airlines Flight 694 (Ginena)
Scored a defense verdict for Alaska Airlines in a case brought by a group of first-class passengers who were removed from Alaska Airlines Flight 694. The flight was headed from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Las Vegas but diverted to Reno in order to remove the passengers and deliver them to law enforcement. We obtained summary judgment of several claims based on the Warsaw Convention, but the remaining defamation claims and a $40 million business loss claim proceeded to trial in early 2013. After a three-week trial, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict on all counts.
Apache Helicopter Crash near Kandahar, Afghanistan (Flanigan v. Honeywell)
Represented Honeywell International Inc. in a lawsuit arising from the July 2, 2006 crash near Kandahar Airbase of a U.S. Army Apache Helicopter, which was responding to a rocket attack on the airbase.  The accident resulted in the death of the pilot.  The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.  A favorable de minimis settlement for our client was reached in December 2008.
Apache Helicopter Crash near Tikrit, Iraq (Beltran, Carns v. Honeywell, Chadwick, et al.)
Represented Honeywell International Inc. in litigation arising from the crash of a U.S. Army Apache Longbow Helicopter near Tikrit, Iraq, on August 14, 2003. The accident resulted in serious spinal and other injuries to the two crew members. The cases were filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and successfully removed to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.  Extensive discovery, expert witness development, and motion practice led to the settlement of cases by all defendants in early 2007.  After the settlement, we obtained full reimbursement, including attorneys' fees, from the predecessor corporation in late 2008.
Flash Airlines Flight 604 Litigation
Representing Honeywell International Inc. in a lawsuit arising out of the crash of a Boeing 737-300, operated as Flash Airlines Flight 604, into the Red Sea off Sharm-El Sheikh, Egypt, on January 3, 2004.  The accident resulted in the deaths of 148 passengers and crew. Cases were initially filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by some of the decedents' estates.  Along with co-counsel for Boeing, our firm was successful in having the case dismissed on grounds of forum non conveniens in favor of a French forum.  Approximately 600 plaintiffs then filed actions in a French trial court in Bobigny seeking compensation for the deaths of approximately 130 decedents.  Plaintiffs' challenges to the jurisdiction of the French courts, including an appeal to the French supreme court, have been unsuccessful.
Boeing Vertol 107-II Accident near Bella Coola, British Columbia (Ruth v. Honeywell)
Represented Honeywell International Inc. in two wrongful death cases and a related hull loss claim arising out of the crash of a Boeing Vertol 107-II during logging operations near Bella Coola, British Columbia. The aircraft involved in the accident was originally manufactured as a military helicopter for the Swedish military and later re-manufactured for commercial use by a co-defendant.  The cases, pending in federal court in Pennsylvania and the courts of British Columbia, were settled on terms favorable to the client.
Airport Runway Design Litigation
Represented the County of San Diego in six consolidated cases in federal court in San Diego arising from the crash of a Cessna Citation 5 jet.  The accident occurred during an aborted landing at Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, California, resulting in the death of both pilots and two passengers.  Our motion for summary judgment was granted, applying federal preemption to the airport design claims.  The decision was one of the most notable and unprecedented rulings in an aviation case in 2008 because of the application of preemption.  The cases were dismissed with prejudice, and plaintiffs and codefendants waived their rights of appeal.
Paullus/Grizzly Mountain Aviation et al v. McTurbine, et al.
Represented SKF USA Inc., a bearing manufacturer, in two cases arising from a K-Max helicopter crash on March 17, 2006, during logging operations in Dayville, Oregon.  One case involved the wrongful death claims brought by the heirs of the helicopter pilot, Kenneth Graves. The second case involved a hull loss claim brought by the helicopter operator, Grizzly Mountain Aviation.  The K-Max helicopters are designed specifically for heavy-lift logging operations.  The two cases were consolidated in Nueces County, Texas.  After filing a motion for summary judgment, we obtained a nuisance value settlement for SKF USA. (2010)

William O’Connor is recommended by Legal 500 US (2009 – 2016) and Chambers USA (2014 – 2016) in the area of aviation litigation, and Best Lawyers in America (2011 – 2015) for product liability litigation. In 2015, the Daily Journal named him to their “Top 20 Under 40” list. He was also recognized by his peers as a finalist for The San Diego Daily Transcript’s “2008 Young Attorneys.”

“He offers recognized expertise in helicopter matters involving both civilian and military clients.” (Chambers USA 2016)

“William O’Connor is ‘an excellent lawyer with a mind for client service,’ according to sources.”
(Chambers USA 2015)

Scores Defense Verdict for Alaska Airlines

William O’Connor Named “Top 20 Under 40” by Daily Journal

Email Disclaimer

Unsolicited e-mails and information sent to Morrison & Foerster will not be considered confidential, may be disclosed to others pursuant to our Privacy Policy, may not receive a response, and do not create an attorney-client relationship with Morrison & Foerster. If you are not already a client of Morrison & Foerster, do not include any confidential information in this message. Also, please note that our attorneys do not seek to practice law in any jurisdiction in which they are not properly authorized to do so.

©1996-2018 Morrison & Foerster LLP. All rights reserved.