Matthew O'Neill

Matthew W. O'Neill | Shareholder

E-mail
mwoneill@foslaw.com

Practice Areas
Commercial Litigation, Appellate Work, Campaign Finance and Election Law, Employment Contracts

Law School
Marquette University Law School, 1991.

Mr. O'Neill's Practice

Mr. O’Neill’s practice focuses on commercial litigation and appellate work. He has litigated and tried dozens of cases, representing plaintiffs and defendants in matters as varied as shareholder disputes, political redistricting, employment litigation, securities arbitration, property disputes, Chapter 11 bankruptcy, contract litigation and class actions.

As a litigator, Mr. O’Neill has substantial trial experience. In one matter he successfully defended the Milwaukee County Executive against a federal civil rights claim. In another he represented a Native American Tribe challenging a redistricting plan as violating the Voting Rights Act. One protracted shareholder dispute resulted in a 20-day trial, while another shareholder dispute resulted in a valuation trial in federal court under Wisconsin’s dissenter’s rights statute. A recent jury trial in a protracted property dispute resulted in a winning verdict and substantial damages awarded in favor of Mr. O'Neill's client.

In 2007 Mr. O’Neill took a pro bono case to trial, challenging a self-storage company’s sale of a local family’s belongings for the paltry sum of $600. When the client went in to pay the bill and complained about the property being sold without any notice, she was told to “get a lawyer.” It was good advice. Outnumbered at trial by the company’s legal team, Mr. O’Neill demonstrated not only that the company wrongfully sold the clients’ personal property, but also that the company illegally retained the excess proceeds from the sale, and had been doing so for years. After a five-day trial, the jury awarded $100,000 in punitive damages, on top of a $20,000 award for the value of the family’s belongings. In response, the company, the largest self-storage company in the world, changed its auction practices nationwide to ensure customers receive fair treatment. The verdict was upheld on appeal, and the self-storage company doubled down on its losses when it was ordered to pay Mr. O’Neill’s attorney’s fees. Cook v. Public Storage Corp., 2008 WI App 155. Legal Action of Wisconsin awarded its 2008 Exceptional Pro Bono Advocacy Award to Mr. O'Neill for his efforts.

Mr. O’Neill has broad appellate experience, including multiple oral arguments before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Wisconsin Court of Appeals and Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. He has been involved in several successful high-profile appeals where the success of the company hung in the balance on appeal, including the reversal of a $100 million verdict against a local utility. Mr. O’Neill argued the two leading Wisconsin cases addressing minority shareholder rights and special litigation committees.

In addition to his commercial and appellate practice, Mr. O’Neill has substantial experience with campaign finance and election law, regularly counseling clients on both sides of the aisle in campaign and election-related matters. Mr. O’Neill was part of the team that successfully obtained reversal of a criminal conviction of a former Republican Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly. In the same election cycle he successfully represented the Democratic Party in a lawsuit involving proposed “cross checks” that could have removed thousands of qualified voters from the poll lists. He has testified before the United States Congress, the Wisconsin Senate and the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board on proposed reforms to federal and state election laws.

Representative cases include:

Primary Practice Areas

Professional Summary

Education

Bar Admissions

Professional Affiliations

Professional Achievements

Biography

Mr. O’Neill was born in Milwaukee in 1966, and has lived in the city most of his life. A bookend graduate of Marquette University High School and Marquette University Law School, Matt bolted to Notre Dame for his undergraduate degree, where he started out as an engineering major and self-corrected to political science and American Studies. Luckily, too, because his skills ran to written analysis and away from linear equations.

Matt started his work career as a paperboy for the Milwaukee Sentinel, learning at a young age the value of rising early and staying abreast of current news. Other jobs along the way included house painting and raising vibrant colonies of moths in a microbiology lab.

Matt is active in the local community, serving as Editor of the Washington Heights newsletter and as a director on a local business improvement district. Matt is known for entertaining friends and co-workers in softball leagues, victory celebrations, fantasy football leagues, and epic vacations. The most epic was his 40th birthday party in 2006, which took place at a castle in Ireland. Matt married his true love, Shannon O’Neill, on June 11, 2000. They have three fabulous daughters, Audrey, Sylvie and Daphne. In his spare time, Matt enjoys golfing, running, cooking, and family RV adventures to great American destinations.