W. Scott O'Connell is a trial attorney and litigation strategist in Holland & Knight's Boston and New York City offices. Mr. O'Connell focuses his practice on complex commercial disputes involving significant financial and reputational exposure. He has considerable experience leading class action and aggregate litigation as well as parallel government enforcement and regulatory proceedings, most notably involving health service, financial service, energy, technology, telecommunications or manufacturing companies.

Mr. O'Connell has been lead counsel on more than 70 trials, arbitrations, evidentiary injunction proceedings and related appeals in federal and state courts around the country. He provides clients with customized and value-driven strategies for resolving cases on their terms.

In his class action, mass torts and aggregate litigation practice, Mr. O'Connell works closely with businesses to find and implement solutions that limit accruing exposure while also defending the case. He also has considerable experience counseling companies through crisis intervention, internal investigations and parallel proceedings.

In addition, Mr. O'Connell counsels health service providers with regard to reimbursements owed from Medicaid, Medicare and third-party payers. This work involves federal and state litigation as well as Administrative Procedures Act (APA) appeals. In addition, he represents individuals, business entities and political organizations in the defense of constitutionally protected rights and liberties.

Mr. O'Connell's experience includes representing academic medical providers, public universities and private for-profit education institutions in governance, internal investigations and commercial litigation. He has considerable experience defending class actions seeking discharge of private student loans connected to failed for-profit education institutions such as commercial flight schools and beauty academies. Mr. O'Connell is a term trustee of his alma mater, St. Lawrence University. In this role, he has served on the Executive Committee, Presidential Appraisal Committee, Audit Committee and Academic Affairs Committee. Mr. O'Connell is often called upon to assist with issues involving shared governance, board governance and institutional risk avoidance and management.

Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Mr. O'Connell was chair of the litigation department for a global law firm, based in its Boston and Manchester, New Hampshire, offices.

Mr. O'Connell also maintains an active docket of pro bono cases specifically related to the prevention of domestic violence and providing needed access to justice.

Representative Experience

  • Successful defense of a diesel engine manufacturer from multiple putative class actions alleging faulty selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems
  • Served as lead counsel in a two-week jury trial in a commercial dispute between two internet companies resulting in a defense verdict on 95 percent of the $24.7 million damages sought by the plaintiff
  • Served as lead counsel for a manufacturing company in two-week trial, resulting in dismissal of wrongful death claims
  • Served as lead trial counsel for international luxury goods company in five-day trial, resulting in dismissal of unfair and deceptive trade practices claims and associated $10 million-plus damages
  • Served as lead trial counsel for a Canadian oil refiner in multiday trial, resulting in dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction in aggregate methyl tert-butyl ether (MtBE) litigation
  • Served as lead trial counsel for private equity fund in six-week jury trial in Oahu, Hawaii, defending claims for breach of partnership agreement, fiduciary duty and violations of Hawaii's unfair and deceptive trade practices act; matter resolved for less than plaintiffs' final demand
  • Served as lead trial counsel for health system clients in five-day federal court evidentiary hearing, securing preliminary injunction enjoining $70 million unlawful changes to state Medicaid reimbursements
  • Served as lead trial counsel for health system clients enjoining Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) enforcement of unlawful sub-regulatory agency guidance and obtaining an award of attorneys' fees because the government's position was not substantially justified
  • Served as trial counsel, and obtained judgment, for a cellular telephone company after a month-long trial
  • Presented oral argument for national bank before the en banc Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (11 judges), successfully compelling arbitration and enforcing class action waiver

  • Representation of an international real estate services firm in investigations by the New York Attorney General and the Manhattan District Attorney of a New York-based commercial real estate company and its principals
  • Served as class counsel to stop the unconstitutional attempted financial raid of a quasi-governmental malpractice association; the class of approximately 6,000 healthcare providers received a gross distribution of $196 million
  • Served as national counsel for claims arising from the unwinding of a national bank's $1 billion private student loan portfolio; more than 100 cases defended, including 15 class actions in 11 states alleging truth-in-lending, fiduciary, and consumer protection and civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) claims
  • Served as lead counsel for 26 hospitals in multiple actions and appeals enjoining the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) from implementing unlawful changes to Medicaid reimbursements; negotiated settlement provides $1.7 billion in Medicaid reimbursements over seven years
  • Served as lead counsel in defense of an New York City hospital system in a putative class action arising from alleged fraudulent trade practices involving billing for medical services
  • Served as co-counsel in defense of a six-state putative class action against a truck engine manufacturer alleging deficient emissions systems
  • Served as internal investigator and coordinating counsel for a hospital system in parallel criminal, regulatory and civil actions arising from the infection of 32 patients with hepatitis C through the illegal diversion and use of opiate drugs by an employee
  • Conducted internal investigation of alleged False Claims Act and Stark Law violations by a healthcare system and representation in related federal civil investigation
  • Conducted internal investigation for a bank holding company special committee of certain directors and officers of its subsidiary banks and related representation in an enforcement proceeding by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), federal criminal prosecution and civil RICO action
  • Obtained successful defense of two foreign energy trading companies and a foreign refinery in aggregate methyl tert-butyl ether (MtBE) ground water contamination litigation
  • Successful defense of an industrial product manufacturer in a wrongful death and catastrophic injury case
  • Successful defense of a high-tech internet component manufacturer in a putative consumer class action alleging unfair and deceptive trade practices
  • Served as lead counsel for a high-tech healthcare payment company challenging Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) enforcement of unlawful bet-the-company sub-regulatory agency guidance that if implemented would have decimated the company's business model
  • Served as lead counsel of a fiber-optic service provider in defense of commercial disputes involving competitors


  • Cornell Law School, J.D.
  • St. Lawrence University, B.A., cum laude
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • District of Columbia
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Vermont
Court Admissions
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maine
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  • U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire
  • U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont
  • New Hampshire Judicial Selection Commission, 2021-Present
  • The Trial Network, 2000-2021
  • Federal Court Advisory Committee, District of New Hampshire
  • New Hampshire Task Force to Prevent Child Abuse, Board Member, 1993-1997
  • New Hampshire Food Bank, Board Member, 1993-1997
  • Farnum Center, Vice Chairman, 1993- 1997
  • Cornell Law Review, Editor
  • Moot Court Board, Chancellor, Cornell Law School
  • Cornell Law School Alumni Association, Past State Coordinator
  • St. Lawrence University, Board of Trustees, 2018-Present
Honors & Awards
  • Top 5 Pro Bono Volunteers in the State, New Hampshire Supreme Court, 2024
  • Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business guide, Litigation: General Commercial, 2008-Present
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Boston Health Care Lawyer of the Year, 2023; Boston Litigation – Securities Lawyer of the Year, 2013; Litigation – Banking and Finance, Boston, 2014; Litigation – Securities, Boston, 2016; Litigation – Health Care, Manchester, 2018; Appellate Practice, Boston, 2019; Bet-the-Company-Litigation, Manchester, 2020; Appellate Practice, Manchester, 2021; Appellate Practice, Boston, 2022
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Appellate Practice, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Criminal Defense: White Collar, Litigation – Banking and Finance, Litigation – Health Care, Litigation – Municipal, Litigation – Securities, Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions – Defendants, Product Liability, Litigation – Defendants, 2010-2024
  • The Legal 500 USA, Product Liability, Mass Tort and Class Action: Toxic Tort – Defense; Trade Secrets (Litigation and Non-Contentious Matters), 2021
  • Pro Bono Service Award, New Hampshire Bar Association, 2011
  • Frederick Douglass Human Rights Award, Law Office of the Southern Center for Human Rights, 2008
  • New England Super Lawyers magazine, Securities Litigation and/or Class Action-Mass Torts, 2007-Present
  • Litigation Star, Benchmark Litigation, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, 2008-Present
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated, 2004-Present
  • 40 Under Forty, New Hampshire Union Leader, 2003
  • Leadership New Hampshire, 2001


Speaking Engagements