Jim O'Connor is a partner in Maslon's Construction & Real Estate Litigation Group. A lawyer for more than 35 years, Jim devotes his practice exclusively to construction and construction insurance-related matters. He represents engineers, general contractors, specialty contractors, owners, and designers in contract formation and construction matters throughout the United States.

Jim is a Fellow of the American College of Construction Lawyers, a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, the former Chair of the ABA Forum on the Construction Industry, and an active member of the AGC's Contract Documents Committee and its Risk Management Committee. He has been published extensively in the construction law area, including the following works: Sticks and Bricks: A Practical Guide to Construction Systems & Technology (ABA 2001), co-editor; AGC Contract Documents Handbook, Chapter 2, "Owner-Contractor Agreements" (Aspen 2003); "Wrestling with Reform: Indemnification Agreements, The Statutory Bars, Promises to Procure, and Insurance Products for the Construction Industry," 1 J.A.C.C.L. 57 (West 2007); The A201 Deskbook: Understanding the Revised General Conditions, (ABA 2008); "It's a Matter of Time: Delay and Change," 8 J.A.C.C.L. 1 (West 2014); and "Suppose Repose Were Indisposed: A True Story Prediction of Collapse and Disaster for the Construction Industry," 34 The Construction Lawyer 5 (Fall 2014).

In 2011, Jim was selected as a 2012 Distinguished Legal Writing Award recipient by The Burton Awards for Legal Achievement for his article titled, "What Every Court Should Know about Insurance Coverage for Defective Construction," 5 J.A.C.C.L. 1 (West 2011).



Selected Experience

Owner/Contractor Agreements:

Has represented:

  • A Fortune 250 Minnesota based company in selecting a project delivery system, selecting a builder, and negotiating the design and construction documents for its World Headquarters Campus.
  • The largest private owner of real estate in Minnesota in drafting families of construction agreements for use in developing and selling completed turn-key commercial buildings.
  • A publicly held gaming corporation in the negotiation of the construction contracts for new casino projects and a hotel tower and casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
  • A governmental banking institution in the drafting and negotiation of the construction management agreement for the construction of a major building in downtown Minneapolis.
  • A nonprofit art institution in negotiating both architectural and construction contracts for the addition and renovation of its Minneapolis facilities, public galleries and Asian galleries.

Subcontract/Purchase Agreements:

  • Drafted a form subcontract for plastering and drywall companies in Minneapolis.
  • Represented a large highway/heavy contractor in developing standard form subcontracts and purchase agreements.

Litigation:

  • Primary defense counsel of the engineering company that designed the I-35W Bridge that collapsed into the Mississippi River in 2007. Represented client in connection with the NTSB investigation and hearing regarding the collapse. Obtained appellate court dismissal of contribution claims and argued the case in the Minnesota Supreme Court for the dismissal of the State’s statutory claims for reimbursement under the Victim’s Compensation Statute; the matter is now concluded.
  • Representation of a national general contractor and its payment bond surety in connection with a “differing site condition” Miller Act claim asserted by an earthwork subcontractor arising out of the construction of a brig for the United States Navy at the Top Gun campus at Miramar, California. After staying the Miller Act claim until he’d successfully concluded the general contractor’s ASBCA claim, Jim tried the Miller Act claim to a defense verdict in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.
  • Representation of the developer of the largest multi-use construction project in downtown St. Paul, and its construction lender in connection with the Galtier Plaza litigation. The $96 million project was still substantially incomplete two years after the promised completion date, and delivered at a cost of approximately $140 million. The bank, by virtue of taking a deed in lieu of foreclosing on the construction loan, retained Jim to represent it in connection with defending $7 million in lien claims; defending a $5 million delay claim by the construction manager; pursuing its own delay claim against the construction manager; pursuing a professional liability claim against the principal architect; and pursuing separate defective construction claims against several of the prime contractors.
  • Representation of the curtain wall contractor who manufactured and installed the aluminum frame and glass curtain wall system for the Lutheran Brotherhood office town in downtown Minneapolis in connection with the owner’s demand for a complete reskinning of the exterior envelope of the building.
  • Representation of the general contractor of a 17 story multi-wing health care and residential facility in Minneapolis, in connection with the owner’s demand to reskin the building as a result of the failure of the exterior wall system, a panelized synthetic plaster system. Jim successfully enforced the general contractor’s indemnity rights against the curtain wall contractor and its contribution rights against the manufacturer of the synthetic plaster wall system.
  • National representation of a major general contractor (in the top 35 on the ENR list) for over 20 years in connection with construction defect claims across the United States.
  • Representation of the Associated General Contractors of Minnesota in connection with several major supreme court cases and presentations. Jim has represented the AGC and its membership for more than 15 years.
  • Representation of a major milling company in connection with asserting delay claims against its general contractor arising out of the construction of two new flour mill facilities located in Fresno, California and Winchester, Virginia. Jim also represented the miller in connection with the defense of subcontractor lien claims on both coasts.
  • Representation of a major government contractor in connection with processing subcontractor payment claims through the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals.
  • Representation of a general contractor’s property insurer in connection with a subrogation action against the false work designer for the cost of equipment lost as a result of the collapse of the Lake Street Bridge, which spans the Mississippi River between Minneapolis and St. Paul.
  • Representation of general contractors in Minnesota, Florida and Colorado in connection with “sick building syndrome” claims. Jim has developed a particular expertise in this area.


Professional Activities

American Bar Association: Forum on the Construction Industry, Steering Committee, Chair of Division 2 (Contract Documents); Governing Committee, past Chair-Elect and Chair
Minnesota State Bar Association
Hennepin County Bar Association: Construction Law Section
American College of Construction Lawyers: Governing Board Member 2015
Associated General Contractors of America: Member, Contract Documents Forum; Member, Contract Documents and Risk Management Committees; Presenter, AGC's 2017 Risk Management/Surety Symposium (Contractor Additional Insured Protections); Task Force Member on AIA 2017 A201 General Conditions and Owner-Contractor Agreements
Associated General Contractors of Minnesota: Affiliate Member
American Arbitration Association: Panel Member; Mega Construction Project Claims Panel Member

PRESENTATIONS

VIEW ALL
"Getting to the Heart of the matter: How to Quickly Identify the Key Features of an Additional Insured Endorsement," 2017 Conference on Surety Bonding and Construction Risk Management, Associated General Contractors (AGC), 2017
February 1, 2017
"Real Estate & Construction Insurance: Basics, Tips and Traps," Construction and Real Property Sections, Maryland State Bar Association, 2016
November 30, 2016

Publications

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Chapter 19 "Duties of Appointed Defense Counsel: Ethical Challenges," Building Better Construction Contracts 2016, Practising Law Institute, 2016

Recognition

The Burton Awards for Legal Achievement, Distinguished Writing Award, 2012

Notable Practitioner in Minnesota for Construction, Chambers USA, 2008-2017

Fellow, American College of Construction Lawyers: 2005-Present

Fellow, American Bar Foundation: 2005-2015; Life Fellow 2015-Present

Who’s Who Legal: The International Who’s Who of Construction Lawyers

Who’s Who Legal: The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers: Construction

Who’s Who International Registry

Who’s Who National Registry

Who’s Who in Minnesota ADR, Minnesota Law & Politics

Recognized on Minnesota Super Lawyers® list, 2001-2017 (Minnesota Super Lawyers® is a designation given to only 5 percent of Minnesota attorneys each year, based on a selection process that includes the recommendation of peers in the legal profession.)

AV Preeminent, Martindale-Hubbell® (AV Preeminent and BV Distinguished are certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties, Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell® certification procedures, standards and policies.)

p 612.672.8378   f 612.642.8378
3300 Wells Fargo Center, 90 South Seventh Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Bar Admissions
Minnesota, 1979
U.S. District Court
  • Minnesota, 1979
U.S. Court of Appeals
  • Eighth Circuit, 1980
U.S. Court of Federal Claims, 1995
U.S. Supreme Court, 2001
Education
Creighton University School of Law
J.D., cum laude, 1979
Creighton University
B.A., cum laude, 1976
Additional Qualifications

Trained Arbitrator, American Arbitration Association

Notable

JIM IS RANKED AS A NOTABLE PRACTITIONER IN MINNESOTA FOR CONSTRUCTION IN CHAMBERS USA 2017 AND WAS SELECTED FOR INCLUSION IN THE 2017 MINNESOTA SUPER LAWYERS® LIST. HE WAS ALSO A RECIPIENT OF THE 2012 DISTINGUISHED LEGAL WRITING AWARD BY THE BURTON AWARDS FOR LEGAL ACHIEVEMENT.



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