I've encountered this error twice now, so I ought to be blogging about it to let others now. In case more people stumble into it or if I need my solution again in the future. So here it is:

Problem: You've just upgraded from 2.4.something to version 3 (3.0.1 in my case) and when you launch openoffice, you get the usual dialogue:

But when you click on a document type to create a new one, the application crashes and after a restart you are presented with a window to recover it:

And this goes on almost recursively, with no base condition (!).

The solution: Simply delete your old settings. But beware, your settings won't be recovered. It's wise to make a back up of your important configuration files so that you can use them later if needed. Use this at your own risk:

$ cd
$ rm -rf .openoffice.org

Note that you need to run the second command from your home directory, that is the reason for the first command.

Next time you run OpenOffice, this directory will be created and default setting files populated inside. And hopefully, you'll be able to run OpenOffice without a problem.