Panelist Profile: O’Neil, Richard D

Richard D O'Neill

O’Neil, Richard D

San Antonio, TX

Arbitrator

Birthdate: 1953

Education

Education: University of New Hampshire (B.A., cum laude, 1975); St. Mary’s University School of Law (J.D., 1978).

Experience

He served as an Assistant City Attorney for the City of San Antonio from 1978 to 1990, managing real estate acquisitions, construction, engineering and environmental law matters. Most notably, Mr. O'Neil was lead attorney for the City in implementing a $500 million upgrade to the City's wastewater system as mandated by the Federal Clean Water Act.  This involved procurement of engineers and contractors, resolution of manufacturer bid protests, grantsmanship, prevention and resolution of construction claims and obtaining state and federal permits.  A part of that program required him to negotiate and draft utility service contracts and grant allocation agreements with local military bases.  Additionally, he provided legal counseling to the City of San Antonio Public Works Department, the VIA Metropolitan Transit Authority, and the Downtown Owners Association during the redevelopment of San Antonio's downtown utility infrastructure and streetscape under a three year Urban Mass Transit Authority Grant (“Triparty” 1987--1990).  Other notable public construction projects to which Mr. O’Neil contributed professional services to were:  Reconstruction of the S.A. Municipal Auditorium (1982--1984); Two S.A. Convention Center expansions/Hemisfair Park (1984--1987 1999-2001); Paseo del Alamo River Linkage -- Hyatt Regency Hotel Joint Project (1981--1985); S.A. Rivercenter Mall public areas, real estate and construction transactions (1988); Two San Antonio International Airport expansions (1984--1988; 2003-2005); Pearsall, Wharton and Brownsville, Texas water and wastewater plants and power plant.  He has structured utility service agreements and industrial district formation contracts with private commercial/industrial developers (e.g., Advanced Micro Devices, AMD, now S.A. Sony facility; Wharton, Texas Tax Abatement Reinvestment Zone “TARZ”).

Mr. O'Neil has also represented the City of San Antonio in state and federal court in various environmental compliance matters including a complicated federal consent decree involving industrial wastewater pretreatment compliance.  He has appeared in contested case hearings before the Texas Public Utility Commission, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (now TCEQ), and the Texas Department of Health involving utility rate disputes, wastewater plant, landfill, stormwater runoff and sludge application permitting matters.

Mr. O'Neil served as lead counsel for the City of San Antonio in opposing five private industry landfill siting permit applications before the former Texas Department of Health.  Several of which involved appeals to the higher Courts.  He has also defended the City of San Antonio in toxic tort allegation suits involving alleged negative impacts of operating wastewater treatment plants and landfills in proximity to neighboring properties.

Mr. O’Neil has routinely updated, upgraded, customized, and standardized construction and professional services standard form contracts for both public and private entities.  He headed up a task force for the S.A. Public Works Department to work with local engineers and contractors to update the City’s standard public works contract documents package.

His practice in State and Federal District Court has involved defense of the City of San Antonio against allegations by the USEPA, Texas Water Commission and San Antonio River Authority that the City was violating Clean Water Act standards and regulations regarding its operation of wastewater treatment plants and implementation of an industrial wastewater pretreatment enforcement program. Very complicated settlements of those cases, in one instance involving a negotiated consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, have given Mr. O’Neil a wide range of exposure and experience at various regulatory levels and litigation forums.

During the mid-1980s, Mr. O’Neil worked closely with the Texas Municipal League, Texas City Attorney’s Association, Associated General Contractors, Texas Society of Professional Engineers and the Texas Legislature to reform the construction trench safety laws to reasonably apportion responsibility/liability between the public owner, engineer, and the contractor.  His leadership in this long-term dedicated effort won him statewide appreciation and acclaim from both public and private interests.  Similarly, his proactive approach to developing a fair, but tough, local wage and hour compliance ordinance and administrative protocols resolved disputes between the City of San Antonio, its contractors, and organized labor.  That model has now been incorporated by many cities across Texas.

Mr. O’Neil has routinely devoted a part of his continuing legal education efforts to construction law, as evidenced by his standing membership in both the State and San Antonio Bar Construction Law Sections and attendance at the following seminars: “Preventing Construction Claims” -- Northwest Center For Professional Education; “Claims and the Construction Owner” -- Federal Publications and the University of Denver College of Law; “Water Pollution Construction Claims” -- Federal Publications and the University of Baltimore.  Annual State Bar Construction Law Seminar and several local Construction Bar Section meetings.  The Conflict Solutions of Texas Arbitration/Mediation Seminar in October, 2007.  Mr. O’Neil subscribes to the “Construction Claims Monthly” and has developed a comprehensive construction law library for the Firm and often writes for the local Business Journal and San Antonio Construction News.

Mr. O’Neil contributed to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Practice Manual No. 73 “Quality in the Constructed Project” Second Edition, 2000.

Mr. O’Neil’s legal representation defending the City of San Antonio, the San Antonio Water System and the Brownsville Public Utilities Board in the various:  Enviro-Gro; Bruce Contracting; CBI-NACON; and Cajun-Lamson Blowers cases and disputes, demonstrated his abilities to proactively manage and resolve complex legal construction matters for public clients.  One of the largest international construction companies, Morrison-Knudsen Corporation, retained Mr. O’Neil to assist in the permitting and construction of a uranium mill-tailings remediation project in Falls City, Texas for the U. S. Department of Energy.  United Parcel Service also retained Mr. O’Neil’s services to assist them in constructing new logistics centers in South Texas.  He has represented both public and private owners; contractors, subcontractors and engineers in numerous construction disputes, mediation, arbitration and litigation.  Mr. O’Neil recently represented a local general contractor in defense of a $3.2 million claim by an auto dealer alleging defective concrete and asphalt construction.  A four-day, technically complex, AAA-Dallas three-man panel arbitration, resulted in his client, the contractor, only being liable for $21,500.00 in disputed repairs.

Mr. O’Neil has also served as a private arbitrator on construction disputes.  He served on a three-man private arbitration panel made up of an attorney, engineer and contractor for the City of Lytle, Texas involving a contractor claim for extra work on a sewer and water line project.

In 2006 he presided as sole arbitrator over a court-ordered private arbitration involving an owner, prime and subcontractor and resolved complex legal and factual issues involving claims and counterclaims associated with the quality and performance of an extensive quarrying conveyor system.  A narrow question of law presented itself on whether the conveyor was personalty or realty.  A complicating fact was that one claimant was a Canadian firm and factual issues of extra work, alleged prime contractor interference, and timely completion, were successfully addressed and resolved over an intense four-day arbitration and a comprehensive written decision (copy available upon request).

He has often lectured on construction, engineering, risk management and environmental topics at various national, state and local trade associations.

Area of Specialization

Real Estate Acquisition, Environmental, Administrative, Construction, Engineering, and Municipal Law

Membership & Affiliations

Admitted to bar 1979, Texas; 1988, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas. Member: San Antonio Bar Association (Past Chairman, San Antonio Bar Association Environmental Law Section Committee); State Bar of Texas (Past Member Steering Committee; Natural Resources and Environmental Law Section, 1988-1994); Association of Metropolitan Sewer Agencies (National Legal Affairs Committee, 1984-);  San Antonio Manufacturers’ Association (SAMA) Environmental Affairs Committee; Air and Waste Management Association (Alamo Chapter); International Right-of-Way Association (Chapter 39, South Texas). Mr. O’Neil also prides himself on civic duties, serving as 2007 President of the San Antonio Kiwanis Civic Club, Immediate Past-President of the Kiwanis Club and  Board of Directors at the Boysville foster care home.

Honors

Martindale-Hubbell “AV” Rated for high skill and integrity. Pi Gamma Mu (Political Science Honors); Pi Sigma Alpha (Social Science Honors); Phi Alpha Delta (Law Service).  Recipient, U.S. Law Week Award 1978.

Richard O'Neil is an experienced panelist for Conflict Solutions of Texas, the state's premier roster of attorney mediators and arbitrators. CS of TX offers a broad range of services to resolve disputes and are designed to be more cost-effective and timely than conventional arbitration offerings.