Matthew (Matt) O’Neill’s practice focuses on commercial litigation, arbitration and appellate work. He has litigated and tried dozens of cases, representing plaintiffs and defendants in matters as varied as shareholder disputes, contract disputes, employment litigation, securities arbitration, property disputes, Chapter 11 bankruptcy, political redistricting and class actions.
- Represented minority shareholder of large corporation in state and federal litigation, including trials and appeals, resulting in corporate liquidation of shareholder’s stock for enhanced value..
- Argued two leading cases before Wisconsin Supreme Court involving minority shareholder rights.
- Represented utility in appeal reversing $100 million punitive damages verdict.
- Obtained jury verdict for clients in pro bono matter, including six-figure punitive damages award against the largest self-storage company in the country.
- Represented a multistate manufacturing and distribution company in negotiating and successfully consummating an approximately $85,000,000 credit facility with a national banking concern in February, 2016.
- Represented target of John Doe investigation, successfully obtaining decision quashing subpoena and closing investigation.
- Represented wife in divorce action against CEO of publicly-traded corporation.
- Obtained six-figure verdict in a heated property dispute between family members, and successfully defended the verdict on appeal and from an attempted bankruptcy.
- Negotiated multi-million dollar settlement on behalf of utility in arbitration against product manufacturer.
- Successfully obtained reversal of criminal conviction against former State representative.
In 2007, Matt 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 found out her property had been auctioned off without any notice, she was told to “get a lawyer.” It was good advice. After a week-long trial, the jury awarded $20,000 in damages and $100,000 in punitive damages. In response, the company, the largest self-storage company in the world, changed its practices nationwide to ensure customers receive fair treatment. The verdict was upheld on appeal. Cook v. Public Storage Corp., 2008 WI App 155. Matt was awarded the 2008 Exceptional Pro Bono Advocacy Award by Legal Action of Wisconsin for his work on the case.
Matt 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. Matt argued the two leading Wisconsin cases addressing minority shareholder rights and special litigation committees.
In addition to his commercial and appellate practice, Matt is well-versed in campaign finance and election law. He regularly counsels clients on both sides of the aisle. Matt helped obtain reversal of a criminal conviction of a former Republican Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly. In the same election cycle he 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.
Committed to his profession, Matt is a Past President of the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association, Secretary and Trustee for the Woodlands School Board of Trustees, Director of Legal Action of Wisconsin, Director of Uptown Crossing Business Improvements District Board and is an active member of both the State Bar of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Bar Association.
Matt also has had the privilege of serving as the Law Clerk to Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan S. Heffernan, 1991-1992 early in his career.
Awards & Recognitions
- A Martindale – Hubbell AV® Peer Review Rated
- Super Lawyer by Milwaukee Magazine (2006 – current)
- Exceptional Pro Bono Advocacy Award (2008)
Representative cases include:
- Notz v. Everett Smith Group, 2009 WI 30
(represented minority shareholder alleging breach of fiduciary duty and oppression)
- Cook v. Public Storage Corp., 2008 WI App 155
($120,000 verdict for illegal auction by self-storage company)
- City of West Allis v. WEPCO, 2001 WI App. 226
(reversal of $100 million verdict against client)
- Northwest Airlines, Inc. v. WDOR, 2006 WI 88
(saved Midwest Airlines tax exemption)
- Clean Wisconsin v. PSC, 2005 WI 93
(helped client obtain approval for new power plants)
- Jandrt v. Jerome Foods, Inc., 227 Wis.2d 531
(1999)(defended law firm from six-figure sanctions award)
- Einhorn v. Culea, 2000 WI 65
(represented minority shareholder challenging special litigation committee determination)
Matt was born in Milwaukee in 1966, and has lived in the city most of his life. His first job was paperboy for the Milwaukee Sentinel, learning at a young age the value of rising early and staying abreast of current news and Brewers box scores. Other jobs along the way included house painting and raising colonies of moths in a microbiology lab.
Matt is active in the local community, serving as Editor of and contributor to 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 Ballyhannon Castle in County Clare, 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 running, golfing, cooking, and family RV adventures to great American destinations.