Susan Koehler Sullivan has over 30 years of experience as a commercial litigator, focusing her practice on corporate insurance matters. She handles insurance coverage investigations and disputes (including through trial or arbitration) under all types of policies, including fidelity, directors and officers, employment, professional, property, excess and general liability policies.
Susan employs a 360-degree approach to every matter, where fully analyzing factual and legal issues are just the beginning. She evaluates and considers each party’s interests and motivations to determine the best strategy forward, and enjoys working closely with her clients to achieve their goals.
Susan was listed as one of the "45 Most Influential Women Lawyers" by the LA Business Journal in 2017. She was also named to the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal's list of "Top Women Lawyers 2017."
- J.D., University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, 1991. Managing editor of the Pacific Basin Law Journal.
- B.A., with honors, University of Washington, 1987
- Los Angeles County Bar Association’s President’s Advisory Committee on Women in the Legal Profession
- Board of Directors of the Counsel for Justice
- Advisory Board Member of Fidelity Law Association
- American Bar Association, Tort and Insurance Practice Section, Fidelity, and Surety Law Committee
- Obtained dismissal of Heritage Bank’s multi-million-dollar lawsuit for breach of contract and bad faith at pleading stage based on failure to timely provide notice under claims made and reported policy.
- Obtained dismissal of all COVID-19 lawsuits at the trial court level filed against clients in California, Washington and other jurisdictions including claims by casinos, national fitness chain, luxury hotels, Yelp, Endeavor, United Talent Agency, Quest Diagnostics, Another Planet (pending before California Supreme Court) and others.
- Ongoing representation of a variety of insurer entities in several pending lawsuits regarding coverage for manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies sued in numerous lawsuits for contributing to the opioid epidemic. Favorable opinions include McKesson and Zogenix (California), Rite Aid (Delaware).
- Obtained terminating sanctions in California state court action for bad faith and breach of contract, based on plaintiff’s failure to comply with deposition and other discovery requests. Terminating sanctions followed the Court’s granting of defendant’s motion to compel and for payment of monetary sanctions.
- Following extensive discovery to demonstrate material misstatements were made by the insured in applying for insurance coverage, we obtained summary judgment based on rescission of a commercial crime policy. The insured, a 1031 exchanger, had comingled client and operating funds resulting in a shortfall of more than USD 40 million in client exchange funds. Plaintiff appealed to the Ninth Circuit which affirmed the summary judgment in Heidi Kurtz v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company.
- Obtained partial summary judgment finding that there was no “Ordinance or Law” coverage under a commercial property policy for the cost of replacing old manufacturing equipment which regulators believed might be unsafe to operate. The Central District of California trial court ruled that damage related to the accident was distinct from long-term damage due to corrosion, and the insurer did not act in bad faith in denying coverage for replacement of the equipment.
- Obtained summary judgment finding no coverage for a wage and hour lawsuit brought against the insured manufacturer. The federal court rejected plaintiff’s assertion that potential but un-alleged claims for wrongful employment practices were sufficient to trigger coverage under the employment practices policy.
- Obtained summary judgment from the state court trial judge in a USD 100 million breach of contract action involving coverage for underlying ERISA class actions. The insured has appealed the ruling.
- As lead counsel for a USD 100 million tower of insurance, investigated and negotiated a highly favorable settlement of a complex fidelity claim.
- Obtained a motion to dismiss a Washington State Class Action under the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act involving a putative class of USD 12 million and alleged damages exceeding USD 2 billion.
- Turned a 10-figure exposure to a client into a USD multi-million-dollar settlement in favor of the client in the context of an arbitration/mediation. The commercial case involved a large-equipment manufacturer and top U.S. automobile manufacturer.
- Obtained summary judgment on a USD multi-million dollar lost rents claim arising from vandalism of a commercial property.
- Co-tried and won a USD 100 million insurance coverage action involving whether a USD 150 million umbrella policy covering hospital professional liability dropped down and became primary coverage upon the exhaustion of a fully fronted primary policy.
- “Claims Handling Regulations and Cyber Overview,” DRI Conference, Chicago, Illinois, March 2023
- “Ransomware,” ABA Mid-Winter Meeting, Washington D.C., January 2023
- "Claims Handling Guidelines and Bad Faith Considerations,” Fidelity Law Association, Philadelphia, November 2022
- "Crime Doesn’t Pay: Examining Rescission and Other Coverage Defenses Applicable to Ponzi Schemes," ABA Fidelity & Surety Law Committee’s Midwinter Meeting, January 2019
- "Insurance Litigation Update," seminar with The Rutter Group, December 2017
- "Cutting Edge Insurance Trends," video/CD with The Rutter Group, April 2017
- “The ABCs of an SEC Investigation,” Surety Law Committee’s 2017 Midwinter Meeting, January 2017
- “Termination and Cancellation: Key Elements,” ABA Fidelity & Surety Law Fall Program, November 2015
- Co-chair, 2014 Fall Fidelity Program Commercial Crime Insurance Coverage, ABA TIPS Fidelity and Surety Law Committee, November 2014
- “Bonds for Broker Dealers,” ABA Fidelity and Surety Law Mid-Winter Program, January 2014
- “Fidelity Insurance Litigation & Special Nuances with Fidelity Bank Bonds: Direct Loss, Exclusions, Forgery, and Dishonest Employees,” American Conference Institute’s “Litigation Contract Surety Bond & Fidelity Insurance Claims” Seminar, October 2012
- “Insured’s Reciprocal Duty of Good Faith: The Blind Eye Defense,” Surety & Fidelity Claims Institute’s 37th Annual Meeting, June 2012
- "Claims Handling Guidelines and Bad Faith Considerations,” Fidelity Law Journal, 2022
“Coverage Litigation” and “Bankruptcy” chapters in D&O Liability Insurance Deskbook, ABA 5th edition, 2020
- Author of chapter, “The Other Coverage Conditions,” Financial Institution Bonds, ABA 4th edition, 2016
- Author of chapter, “Cancellation and Termination,” Annotated Commercial Crime Policy, ABA 3rd edition, 2015
- Co-editor, "Commercial Crime Insurance Coverage," ABA, 2014
- "Grappling with Good Faith: The Blind Eye Defense," Surety & Fidelity Claims Institute, June 2012
- Co-author of chapters, “Scope of Coverage” and “Coverage Litigation Issues,” Directors and Officers Liability Insurance Deskbook, ABA 3rd edition, 2011