K. James Sullivan

Top rated insurance coverage attorney in Cleveland, Ohio

Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP
K. James Sullivan
Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP

Practice Areas: Insurance coverage, Business litigation

Licensed in Ohio since: 2001

Education: University of Virginia School of Law

Selected to Super Lawyers: 2014 - 2023 Selected to Rising Stars: 2012 - 2013

Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP

1405 East Sixth Street
The Calfee Building
Cleveland, OH 44114 Phone: 216-622-8567 Email: K. James Sullivan Visit website


As leader of Calfee's insurance recovery practice, James Sullivan counsels corporate insurance policyholders on insurance coverage issues and litigates insurance coverage disputes. He also litigates and helps resolve clients’ general business disputes.

James’ primary focus is providing insurance coverage services to corporate policyholders. He also represents closely held and publicly traded business clients on a variety of other matters, including:

  • Litigating contract, business tort, and equitable claims
  • Advising on contract interpretation
  • Facilitating alternative dispute resolution efforts

James has litigated in many Ohio appeals and trial courts, as well as numerous federal trial and appeals courts.

James is one of 24 Ohio lawyers certified as an insurance law specialist by the Ohio State Bar Association. Multiple times he has served as an expert witness on insurance coverage issues.

James has been recognized for his work in Insurance by Chambers USA, most recently ranked in 2021 in Band 1. Chambers USA researchers noted, "[James] is held in high esteem for his approach to complex recovery claims, which sees him handle a wide range of coverage disputes." A client interviewed by Chambers USA researchers said, "He is eager to learn about our business and that pays dividends in the quality of his work." Another client mentioned, "He is able to communicate complex issues effectively." A client enthused, "James is the most intelligent, hard-working and consistent coverage attorney I have worked with."

Chambers USA 2020 researchers commented that James "is held in high esteem as one of the best policyholder lawyers in Ohio. He is also praised for his sophisticated and diplomatic approach to complex recovery claims, which sees him handle a wide range of coverage disputes. One source reports, 'He does an excellent job in analyzing situations and getting a good result. He is smart, well respected and capable in the courtroom.'"

He was named Best Lawyers® 2018 Insurance Law "Lawyer of the Year" in Cleveland. He has been selected to The Best Lawyers in America© list since 2017. Additionally, James has been recognized by Ohio Super Lawyers as one of the top 100 attorneys in Ohio (2015-2021) and top 50 attorneys in Cleveland (2015-2020).

James joined Calfee in 2001 and was elected Partner in 2010. He serves as chair of Calfee’s Associates Committee, and is a member of its Associate Compensation Committee, Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and Practice Planning and Growth Committee. He also serves as a formal and informal mentor to other Calfee attorneys.

First Admitted: 2001, Ohio

Professional Webpage: https://calfee.com/professionals/k-james-sullivan/

Pro bono/Community Service:
  • City of Cleveland, High School Student Mentor
  • 2008 Cleveland Bridge Builders Civic Leadership Program, Alumnus
Special Licenses/Certifications:
  • Certified “Insurance Law Specialist” by the Ohio State Bar Association
  • If your company is like virtually every other company, it has seen its business operations disrupted by the ever-evolving COVID-19 global pandemic, with no clear end in sight. Financial losses are likely mounting, be they lost income due to decreased productivity, diminished demand for goods or services, supply chain disruptions, canceled business travel, etc., or the extra expenses incurred in minimizing those losses., Will My Company's Coronavirus-Related Business Interruption Losses Be Covered by Insurance?, Insurance Coverage
Educational Background:
  • B.A., in Philosophy, magna cum laude, John Carroll University, 1998  , 1998
  • J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 2001  , 2001
  • 2011-2015 – Sought in excess of $5 million in EPL coverage for a designer and manufacturer of corrugated packaging., 2015
  • 2018-2020 – Helping chemical and solvents manufacturer protect approximately $4 million in captive insurer assets in connection with claim triggering multiple policies, including non-captive policy years., 2020
  • 2016-2020 – Guiding health sector client through dispute with third party seeking to waive client’s rights with respect to approximately $125 million in limits under medical professional liability insurance., 2020
  • 2017-2019 – Assisted with $15 million aviation insurance policy claim in connection with fatal aircraft incident., 2019
  • 2017-2020 – Helping company in medical insurance sector administer defense and indemnification claim under primary and excess E&O policies in municipal-law class action seeking an estimated $60‑70 million in alleged damages., 2020
  • 2018-2019 – Litigated alleged "late notice" denial of $2 million-plus coverage claim under CGL policy for home hardware component supplier., 2019
  • 2019 – Assisted client with development of strategy for pursuing over $20 million in cyber-attack losses from a combination of a cyber insurance policy and a third-party indemnitor., 2019
  • 2019-2020 – Assisting client with development and implementation of strategies to recover in excess of $20 million from insurance companies for nationwide environmental claims asserted by regulatory agencies and individual claimants., 2020
  • 2019-2020 – Litigating two related lawsuits in Ohio and Nebraska federal courts seeking to recover from various insurers (including a fidelity bond issuer) over $24 million in losses stemming from an alleged Ponzi scheme., 2020
  • 2020 – Designing and implementing D&O strategy to assist client in efforts to collect $1 million-plus judgment against otherwise uncollectible entity., 2020
  • Chambers USA, Insurance, Band 1, 2020, Chambers USA, 2020
  • The Best Lawyers in America© 2018 Insurance Law "Lawyer of the Year" in Cleveland, The Best Lawyers in America© , 2018
  • The Best Lawyers in America©, Insurance Law, Litigation - Insurance, 2017-2020, The Best Lawyers in America©, 2020
Representative Clients:
  • Red Roof Inns (Outside Insurance Coverage Counsel), 2020
  • Smucker's (Outside Insurance Coverage Counsel), 2020
  • FirstEnergy (Outside Insurance Coverage Counsel), 2020
  • Rust-Oleum Corporation (Outside Insurance Coverage Counsel), 2020
  • The Ohio State University (Outside Insurance Coverage Counsel), 2020
  • Cardinal Health (Outside Insurance Coverage Counsel), 2020
  • Cleveland-Cliffs (Outside Insurance Coverage Counsel), 2020
  • University Hospitals (Outside Insurance Coverage Counsel), 2020
  • Medical Mutual of Ohio (Outside Insurance Coverage Counsel), 2020
Bar/Professional Activity:
  • Legal Aid, Numerous Pro Bono Representations of Under-Served Clients, 2021
  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association’s Committee on Mental Health and Wellness, Past Chair, 2021
  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association’s Insurance Law Section, Past Chair, 2021
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit  
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit  
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida  
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio  
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia
  • Effective July 2015, James is the Chair of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association's Insurance Law Section., 2015
  • Ohio
Industry Groups:
  • Banking
  • Financial Services And Insurance
  • Health Care
  • LLCs and Joint Ventures
  • Manufacturing And Industrial
  • Partnerships
  • Private and Family-Owned Businesses
  • Private Equity
  • Public Companies

Office location for K. James Sullivan

1405 East Sixth Street
The Calfee Building
Cleveland, OH 44114

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