Kathleen M. Sullivan
New York Office
Energy Sector Litigation and Arbitration
Entertainment and Media Litigation
Insurance and Reinsurance Litigation
Intellectual Property Litigation
Harvard Law School
Won Ames Moot Court Competition (best oralist)
First Class Honours, P.P.E.
Distinction In All Subjects
Sullivan & Gunther, Constitutional Law (17th ed., Foundation Press 2010)
Stanford Law School:
Professor of Law, 1993-2012
Harvard Law School:
Professor of Law, 1989-1993
Assistant Professor of Law, 1984-1989
Law practice with Harvard Law Professor Laurence H. Tribe, 1982-1984
Law Clerk to the Hon. Judge James L. Oakes,
United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, 1981-1982
Harvard Law School Board of Visitors
Elected Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Elected Member, American Philosophical Society
Member, The State Bar of New York, 1982; Member, The State Bar of Massachusetts, 1988; Member, The State Bar of California, 2006; United States Supreme Court, 1985; United States Courts of Appeals: First Circuit, Second Circuit, Third Circuit, Fifth Circuit, Seventh Circuit, Ninth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit, District of Columbia Circuit, Federal Circuit; United States District Courts: Central District of California, Northern District of California, District of Massachusetts, Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York
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Kathleen Sullivan is a partner in the firm’s New York office and the chair of its national appellate practice. Widely recognized as one of the nation’s preeminent appellate advocates, she was named once again in 2013 to The National Law Journal’s occasional list of The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America, which noted her “awesome mastery of the case’s facts and the nuances of the law” in her recent winning Supreme Court arguments in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum. She has also been recognized by Benchmark Litigation/Euromoney as one of the Top 10 Women Litigators in the nation, ten consecutive times by the Daily Journal as one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in California, by The American Lawyer Litigation Daily as Litigator of the Week, and by California Lawyer as Appellate Lawyer of the Year. A National Law Journal article called her a Supreme Court “superstar” and a New York Times editorial called her “a formidable advocate” in describing her winning Supreme Court argument in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth. Chambers USA (2012) describes her as a “truly terrific” appellate lawyer who wins clients’ approval as “tremendously agile and a fabulous advocate.”
The former Dean of Stanford Law School, Sullivan joined the firm in 2005 after a long and storied career as professor of law at Harvard and Stanford Law Schools, where she taught constitutional law to several generations of law students. She represents a wide range of clients, including Shell Oil, Entergy, Samsung, Pfizer, Motorola, Google, Oracle, Cisco, Georgia Pacific, Coca-Cola, AIG, CNA and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. She has argued seven cases before the United States Supreme Court; numerous cases in the US Courts of Appeals, including the First, Second, Third, Fifth, Seventh, Ninth and Federal Circuits; and various cases in state high courts including the New York Court of Appeals and the California Supreme Court. In addition to her appeals practice, she plays an active role in the firm’s trial practice, including by arguing numerous significant pre-trial, trial and post-trial motions in the federal district courts.
Obtained a 9-0 win in the US Supreme Court for Shell Oil in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, 133 S. Ct. 1659 (2013), which held that the Alien Tort Statute does not apply to alleged violations of international law that take place within the sovereign territory of a foreign nation.
Obtained a 6-2 win in the US Supreme Court for Wyeth in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, 131 S. Ct. 1068 (2011), which held that the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act expressly preempts state-law design-defect claims against manufacturers of childhood vaccines.
Obtained an 8-1 win in the US Supreme Court for Shell Oil in Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway v. United States; Shell Oil Co. v. United States, 556 U.S. 599 (2009), which held that a shipper of useful products is not subject to “arranger” liability under CERCLA.
Obtained a 5-4 win in the US Supreme Court for California wineries and Michigan wine consumers in Granholm v. Heald, 544 U.S. 460 (2005), which invalidated under the Commerce Clause discriminatory state bans on the interstate shipment of wine directly from wineries to consumers.
Obtained a 5-0 win in the New York Court of Appeals for the Excess Casualty Reinsurance Ass’n in United States Fidelity & Guaranty Company v. American Re-Insurance Company, 20 N.Y. 3rd 407 (2013), which held that “follow the fortunes” does not bar review of reinsurance settlement allocations for an insurer’s objective reasonableness and vacated a $400 million judgment against reinsurers under that standard.
Obtained a 7-0 win in the California Supreme Court in Sargon Enterprises, Inc. v. University of Southern California, 55 Cal. 4th 747 (2012), which upheld the duty of California state trial courts to act as “gatekeepers” in excluding speculative and unreliable expert lost profits testimony.
Obtained a 4-3 win in the New York Court of Appeals for New York Governor David Paterson in Skelos v. Paterson, 13 N.Y.3d 141 (2009), which upheld against state constitutional challenge the Governor’s authority to appoint a lieutenant governor, a victory The New York Times called “stunning.”
Obtained a unanimous win for AIG in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in American Int’l Group v. Bank of America, No. 12-1640 (Apr. 29, 2013), which held that defendants could not transfer state RMBS fraud cases to federal court under the Edge Act where the foreign (or insular) banking transactions at issue were not made by the federal bank that was a party to the suit.
Obtained a unanimous win for FHFA in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Federal Housing Finance Agency v. UBS Americas Inc., 712 F.3d 136 (2013), which held that the statute of limitations in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 supersedes the statute of repose in the Securities Act of 1933, allowing FHFA’s RMBS fraud suits against 18 banks to proceed.
Obtained a unanimous win for Mattel in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Mattel, Inc. v. MGA Entertainment, 705 F.3d 1108 (2013), which reversed a $172.5 million jury verdict against Mattel for supposedly misappropriating trade secrets at toy fairs from Bratz dollmaker MGA.
Obtained a unanimous win for Shell Oil in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands v. EPA, 704 F.3d 743 (2012), which upheld against Clean Air Act challenge EPA’s air permits for Shell’s operation of drillship Noble Discover in the Alaskan Arctic.
Obtained a unanimous win for Shell Oil in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Native Village of Point Hope, et al. v. Salazar, 680 F.3d 1123 (2012), which denied petitions for review of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s approval of Shell’s 2012 exploration plans for oil and gas resources on the Alaskan Outer Continental Shelf; obtained similar win as to Minerals Management Service’s approval of Shell’s 2010 exploration plan in Native Village of Point Hope, et al. v. Salazar, et al., 378 Fed. Appx. 747 (2010).
Obtained a unanimous win for the administrator of the Parmalat Italian bankruptcy estate in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Parmalat Capital Finance Ltd. v. Bank of America, 671 F.3d 261 (2012), which held that the federal district court should have granted mandatory abstention in favor of state courts where the administrator had sued Parmalat’s auditors.
Obtained reversal of an individual white-collar conviction in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in United States v. Banki, 660 F.3d 665 (2011), which held that Iranian trade embargo restrictions do not unambiguously prohibit non-commercial remittances, including family remittances, between Iran and individuals in the United States.
Obtained a unanimous win for a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary in the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in a decision reversing a vacatur of an arbitration award in a patent dispute and making new law narrowing the scope of “manifest disregard of law” as a ground for vacatur under the FAA.
Obtained a unanimous win for PG&E in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a decision upholding the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s environmental assessment of a spent-fuel storage facility at a nuclear power plant.
Obtained a unanimous win for a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a decision upholding removal to federal court under the New York Convention of a state-court case seeking an end-run around foreign arbitral proceedings.
Obtained a unanimous win for Oracle and its CEO Larry Ellison in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a decision affirming a summary judgment for Oracle in a securities class action.
Obtained a unanimous win for a major chemical manufacturer in the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in a decision dismissing an appeal from a decision declining to stay US litigation in favor of a foreign arbitral proceeding involving related parties.
Obtained a unanimous win for AIG subsidiaries in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in a decision reversing a $34 million judgmen after jury trial on the ground that the statute of limitations on a fraud claim involving reinsurance brokers had run.
Obtained a unanimous win for an agency of the Russian Federation in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in a decision clarifying that the assignment of trademarks is contestable and reversing a dismissal of an action to recover the famous Stolichnaya vodka trademarks.
Obtained a unanimous win for Allegheny Energy in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. v. Allegheny Energy, Inc., 500 F.3d 171 (2d Cir. 2007), which overturned a $188 million contract judgment and reinstated all counterclaims in a contract dispute over sale of an energy trading business.
Obtained an 8-7 en banc victory for the Kamhameha Schools in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Doe v. Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate, 470 F.3d 827 (2006) (en banc), which upheld the Schools’ preference for Native Hawaiian children in their admissions policy against challenge under 42 U.S.C. § 1981.
Obtained a victory for Samsung in the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which held that an arbitrator must decide the arbitrability of a patent royalty dispute.
Obtained a victory for a global telecommunications company in the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, upholding an arbitrator’s jurisdiction to decide the arbitrability of claims.
Obtained a victory for Entergy in the US District Court for the District of Vermont in Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee v. Shumlin, 838 F. Supp. 2d 183 (2012), a decision holding after bench trial that the Atomic Energy Act preempts Vermont’s efforts to shut down the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant for radiological safety reasons reserved to the federal government.
Obtained dismissal of an SEC complaint against Siebel Systems in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York in the first challenge to the SEC’s enforcement of Regulation FD.
Represented a class of mothers and children receiving AFDC in the US Supreme Court in Anderson v. Green, 513 U.S. 557(1995) (per curiam), a constitutional challenge to multi-tier welfare systems based on length of residency that was the precursor to Saenz v. Roe.
Represented taxpayers in the US Supreme Court in Freytag v. Commissioner, 501 U.S. 868 (1991), a constitutional challenge under the Appointments Clause to the use of special trial judges by the Tax Court.
Represented the State of Hawaii, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the City of Honolulu and the City of Berkeley in miscellaneous cases in the US Supreme Court and US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit involving constitutional issues.
Represented numerous clients pro bono in a variety of civil rights and civil liberties cases involving free speech, privacy and equal protection