March 5, 2014, Chicago, IL – Reed Smith LLP today announced that Michael O’Neil has joined the firm as a partner in its Chicago office, where he will be a member of the firm’s Global Regulatory Enforcement Group.
O’Neil joins Reed Smith from DLA Piper, where he was Chair of the Privacy Litigation Group and Vice Chair of that firm’s Chicago Litigation Practice Group.
“Michael enjoys a stellar reputation for an outstanding career defending class action privacy claims,” said Debra H. Dermody, Co-Chair of Reed Smith’s Global Regulatory Enforcement Group. “With his credentials in the privacy litigation field combined with Reed Smith’s own strength in this area, we are clearly one of the premier firms in the country addressing these very challenging issues.”
O’Neil has successfully defended against a broad range of class claims brought under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) for more than two decades. He also counsels clients on an array of privacy and other compliance issues, including the FCRA and other federal and state laws. O’Neil has also tried both jury and bench trials in state and federal courts.
O’Neil believes the current surge in FCRA litigation is the result of a “perfect storm” of several phenomena. Because defendants facing FCRA claims typically use common business practices in dealing with consumers or data regarding them, it is easier to obtain class treatment of such claims. Also, under the FCRA, business practices that may cause no harm, and represent only a technical violation of a complicated statute, can nonetheless allow individual recovery of $100 – $1,000 in statutory damages. If such nominal damages are awarded in a class action, the total liability can be significant. O’Neil explained this “perfect storm” in a book recently published by Thomson Reuters, as a part of its Inside the Minds series, in a chapter entitled, “The Transformation of the ‘Right to Privacy’ and its Unintended Liability Consequences.”
“Reed Smith has a deep bench in all matters of data security and privacy and FCRA, which are well-matched to my practice. In addition, the firm’s complete range of practices will be beneficial to my clients,” said O’Neil. “I am impressed by the focus on client service and its team approach to best serve the clients’ needs, and look forward to working on behalf of our clients together.”
O’Neil is a 1989 graduate of DePaul University College of Law.
“Michael will fit in well with the culture of this office,” said Michael LoVallo, Reed Smith’s Chicago Managing Partner. “I’m confident he will quickly take advantage of our expansive global platform and we look forward to working with him.”
Reed Smith has a dedicated practice focused around issues pertaining to FCRA, including big data analytics, employment screening processes, and insurance recovery. Comprising nearly 50 lawyers across the United States, the team includes seasoned litigators with a strong class action track record; former federal and state regulators who have substantial experience in FCRA compliance and in defending regulatory examinations and enforcement actions; employment lawyers who regularly guide employers on the use of consumer reports for employment purposes; and insurance coverage lawyers who proactively provide coverage reviews to identify potential issues or exposure. The firm has managed and litigated hundreds of FCRA cases, both single-plaintiff and class action, across the nation, and have counseled numerous clients throughout the country to assure their statutory compliance.
Reed Smith’s Global Regulatory Enforcement Group includes more than 210 attorneys in 25 offices on three continents, handling all aspects of regulatory compliance and enforcement issues, including antitrust and competition; data security, privacy and management; export, customs and trade; government contracts and grants; government investigations and white-collar criminal defense; securities litigation and enforcement; and public policy and infrastructure.
About Reed Smith
Reed Smith is a global relationship law firm with more than 1,800 lawyers in 25 offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Founded in 1877, the firm represents leading international businesses, from Fortune 100 corporations to mid-market and emerging enterprises. Its lawyers provide litigation and other dispute resolution services in multi-jurisdictional and other high-stakes matters; deliver regulatory counsel; and execute the full range of strategic domestic and cross-border transactions. Reed Smith is a preeminent advisor to industries including financial services, life sciences, health care, advertising, technology and media, shipping, energy and natural resources, real estate, manufacturing, and education. For more information, visit reedsmith.com.