James is one of 24 Ohio lawyers certified as insurance law specialists by the Ohio State Bar Association.  He has served as an expert witness on insurance coverage issues.  He was selected by Best Lawyers in America as a Lawyer of the Year in 2018 in the area of Insurance Law. Ohio Super Lawyers ranked James one of the top 100 lawyers in Ohio and one of the top 50 lawyers in Cleveland for 2017 and 2016.   He was recently selected for Benchmark Litigation’s “Under 40 Hot List.”

James represents closely held and publicly traded business clients on a variety of matters. These include providing insurance coverage services to policyholders; litigating contract, business tort, and equitable claims; advising on contract interpretation; and facilitating alternative dispute resolution efforts.  He has litigated in many Ohio appeals and trial courts, as well as numerous federal trial and appeals courts, including the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern District of Michigan, Western District of Pennsylvania, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Eastern District of Missouri, Middle District of Florida, and 8th and 11th Circuits.  

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James is the past Chair of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association’s Insurance Law Section as well as the current Chair of its Committee on Mental Health and Wellness.   He speaks and writes regularly, including co-authoring the featured cover article for the American Bar Association’s Winter 2015 issue of “The Brief”; speaking at the American Bar Association’s 2014 and 2015 annual national insurance litigation seminars; and frequently speaking at seminars sponsored by the Ohio State Bar Association, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, and Akron Bar Association.

James’ community involvement includes representing numerous Legal Aid and other underserved clients pro bono with consistently favorable outcomes and mentoring City of Cleveland high school students.  He is also an alumnus of the 2008 Cleveland Bridge Builders Civic Leadership Program.

James joined Calfee in 2001 and became a partner effective January 1, 2010.  He serves as Vice Chair of Calfee's Associates Committee.  He also serves as a formal and informal mentor to other Calfee attorneys, including twice mentoring first-year lawyers for the Ohio Supreme Court’s year-long Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program.

Insurance Policyholder Recovery and Counseling Services

James has been litigating on behalf of and counseling insurance policyholders on coverage matters since 2004. More than 60% of James’s practice is devoted to representing policyholders. He has experience with a wide array of policy types, including commercial general liability, umbrella, excess, property and business interruption, directors & officers, side A excess, errors & omissions, employment practices, stop-gap, employed lawyers, professional services liability, public entity liability, surety, liquor, and aviation insurance policies.

Below is a sample of recent services James has provided to insurance policyholder clients:

  • 2015 – Advised multiple Calfee clients regarding rights with respect to directors’ and officers’ insurance in connection with lawsuits and claims brought by third parties.
  • 2015 – Advised multiple Calfee transactional clients on insurance coverage issues in connection with U.S.-based and internationally-based stock purchase agreements and asset purchase agreements, including with respect to insurance anti-assignment provisions and successor access to historical insurance policy rights.
  • 2015 – Assisted nationwide insurance brokerage and risk management firm with development of endorsement language to present to the insurance marketplace.
  • 2015 – Assisting disability management company’s efforts to secure insurance coverage for defense costs and indemnity coverage in connection with defamation lawsuit.
  • 2015 – Assisting Fortune 500 company with design and administration of insurance coverage program for asbestos claim portfolio.
  • 2014-2015 – Assisted material handling equipment company with securing total defense and indemnity coverage for its first-ever asbestos claim.
  • 2014-2015 – Assisted aviation services company with securing defense costs for employment practices punitive class-style claims.
  • 2014-2015 – Assisted nationwide financial services company with obtaining settlement from insurer when insurer argued policy at issue had lapsed.
  • 2014-2015 – Assisting performance materials manufacturer in coverage in place agreement negotiations with multiple insurers regarding asbestos and other toxic tort long-tail claims.
  • 2014-2015 – Secured multi-million dollar settlement against Fortune 500 insurer in connection with breach of contract claims.
  • 2014 – Performed comprehensive insurance coverage program review for directors and officers, employment practices liability, fiduciary liability, and crime coverage for service provider of Cloud-based communications and applications.
  • 2014 – Assisted lifestyle shopping center secure property insurance for losses resulting from rupture of frozen pipes that affected over 15 of its tenants.
  • 2011-2015 – Seeking in excess of $5 million in employment practices liability coverage for a designer and manufacturer of corrugated packaging.
  • 2011-2013 – Helped secure favorable settlement in lawsuit seeking over $15 million in coverage under a property policy for a Michigan client that suffered catastrophic property and business interruption losses at its petroleum-based product storage facility.
  • 2013 – Assisting commercial construction goods manufacturer in its efforts to secure coverage for CERCLA Superfund liabilities under historical policies.
  • 2013 – Assisting performance materials manufacturer in management of international insurance program, including review of coverage placements, and asbestos claim coverage under historical policies.
  • 2011-2013 – Managing asbestos and benzene product liability insurance coverage claim program on behalf of former automotive product manufacturer.
  • 2011-2013 – Helped secure favorable settlement in matter seeking in excess of $6 million in primary and excess CGL and professional services coverage for a provider of comprehensive process automation solutions and services, including persuading insurer to withdraw all reservation of rights positions.
  • 2011-2013 – Assisting commercial construction goods manufacturer in its efforts to secure defense and indemnity coverage under multiple CGL policies in connection with long-tail property damage claim asserted against manufacturer by a municipality.
  • 2012 – Advised global manufacturer of standard and custom engineered products and systems on insurance coverage issues for third-party’s $75 million claim and impact on risk exposures associated with a potential business acquisition.
  • 2009-2012 – Secured coverage from third-party powder manufacturer’s insurer on behalf of chemical products manufacturer whose solar paste product was damaged by powder manufacturer’s product incorporated into the solar paste.
  • May 2011 – Obtained reimbursement of defense costs advanced under client’s self-insured retention from third-party insurer that issued an endorsement adding client as an additional insured on its policy.
  • November 2005-January 2011 – Litigated on behalf of national construction product manufacturer and its parent company against their excess insurers and broker, seeking in excess of $40 million for indemnity and defense in connection with thousands of underlying claims, with favorable confidential settlements reached with all defendants in late 2010 and early 2011.
  • 2010-2013 - Performed reviews of multiple policy proposals and policies for various policyholders to ensure adequate protection of policyholder clients, including D&O, CGL, and public liability coverage reviews.
  • 2010 – Performed a comprehensive review of the historical CGL, umbrella, and excess programs for five subsidiaries of a multi-billion dollar international corporation in order to assist in management of significant toxic tort claim exposure.
  • 2004-2008 – Prosecuted directors and officers claim and related coverage claim seeking nearly $10 million in connection with the liquidation of a surety insurance company by the Nebraska Department of Insurance, culminating in a confidential settlement.
    Banking Commercial and Retail Litigation

During the past decade, James has handled over 125 matters for Ohio banks, including many for three of Ohio’s four largest banks. He has devoted over 20 percent of his total career to bank clients’ legal needs. James has a wide variety of experience in banking litigation, including trials, hearings, appellate arguments, depositions, and dispositive motions.

Below is a sample of recent services James has provided to bank clients:

  • 2015 - Assisting bank fiduciary in efforts to resolve a commercial real estate dispute.
  • 2015 - Assisted bank in development of summary judgment arguments for breach of contract claim seeking millions of dollars in damages.
  • 2014 – Assisted bank in addressing claims for breach of fiduciary duty by a customer.
  • 2014 – Assisted bank with fraud investigation regarding a franchisee banking customer.
  • 2013 – Advised bank on nuances of various Uniform Commercial Code commercial paper provisions in connection with bank’s development of policies and litigation strategies.
  • 2008-2012 – Litigated two related federal court lawsuits seeking over $4 million in damages against bank client, during which bank client won transfer of venue from Pennsylvania to Florida and multiple Rule 12(b)(6) dismissals of claims. One case was settled on terms favorable to bank client, and in the other case, won appeal after bank’s Rule 12(b)(b) dismissal victory.
  • 2011-2012 – Litigated state court lawsuit involving unique payable-on-death acount legal issues for high-value individual accounts.
  • 2012 – Obtained favorable settlement for bank in lawsuit challenging legal validity of terms of standard commercial loan documentation.
  • April 2011 – Won summary judgment for bank client in state court lawsuit alleging fraud and vicarious liability and seeking over a quarter-million dollars in damages.
  • January 2011 – Won summary judgment for bank client in state court lawsuit involving unique collateral estoppel issue.
  • April 2010 – Won Civil Rule 12(B)(6) dismissal for bank client in state court class action lawsuit before case progressed to class certification stage, leading to highly favorable confidential settlement while on appeal.
  • 2009-2010 – Obtained 100% recovery on behalf of bank client in connection with funds misappropriated by charter school administrators after the bank was initially ordered by a judge to honor certain payroll checks improperly issued by the crooked administrators.
  • 2007-2009 – Litigated lawsuit seeking $7.5 million in damages, plus $45 million in punitive damages, against bank client in connection with alleged mismanagement of vehicle dealership floorplan financing commitment, culminating in a confidential settlement at mediation that was highly favorable to bank.
  • 2007-2009 – Defended bank client against $1.5 million claim stemming from embezzlement of funds by employee of bank customer, culminating in a confidential settlement.
  • 2007-2009 – Won summary judgment for bank client on approximately half-million dollar claim stemming from guardians’ improper use of funds in a guardianship account, with summary judgment upheld on appeal after appellate oral argument.

General Litigation

Below is a sample of recent general litigation services James has provided to Calfee clients:

  • 2015 – Defending manufacturer of retail and commercial paints and coatings against class-style claims alleging breach of contract and violation of Ohio’s business opportunity plan statute.
  • 2015 – Litigating claims on behalf of a private equity company seeking release of multi-million dollar escrow in connection with securities purchase agreement, and defending against multi-million dollar allegations of representation and warranty breaches from that transaction.
  • 2014 - Defended manufacturer client against breach of contract claim by multinational conglomerate entertainment company, resulting in favorable settlement.
  • 2014-2015 - Defending real estate developer against third-party beneficiary claims.
  • 2014-2015 - Obtained favorable settlements in multiple software developer and administrator lawsuits.
  • 2013 – Analyzed merits of potential breach of warranty claim for client with damages anticipated to exceed $40 million.
  • 2013 – Negotiated settlement of federal lawsuit brought by Sunoco, Inc. against client in accordance with client’s strategic objectives for minimizing total cost exposure associated with potential CERCLA Superfund liabilities.
  • 2013–2015 - Litigated on behalf of golf course management company against municipality to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in capital improvements for which municipality wrongfully withheld payment.
  • 2013 – Settled half-million-dollar claim against furniture manufacturing client seeking lost profits for termination of business relationship for nuisance value without litigation being filed by locating and assembling persuasive evidence in the dispute’s infancy.
  • 2012-2013 – Negotiated multimillion-dollar settlement of foreclosure lawsuit on behalf of plaintiff client in complex hybrid cash/real estate settlement.
  • 2012-2013 – Obtained dismissal of ERISA lawsuit seeking approximately $300,000 against service provider client using Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.
  • 2011-2013 – Represented family-owned petroleum storage facility in $13 million claim against Marathon Petroleum Company, and defending facility against Marathon’s separate $6 million claim.
  • 2011-2012 – Represented an apartment rental assistance company in a lawsuit where the plaintiff sought approximately $2 million in connection with an earn-out provision in a 2006 asset purchase agreement, resulting in favorable settlement.
  • 2011-2012 – Represented one of the largest residential real estate developers, owners, and operators in the U.S. against a municipality in connection with utilities overcharges, resulting in an early favorable six-figure settlement.
  • 2011-2012 – Persuaded asbestos plaintiff to dismiss manufacturer and distributor of steel products from lawsuit without making any settlement payment, minimizing likelihood of potential future claims.
  • 2011 – Won summary judgment in federal consumer lawsuit seeking compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of major bedding manufacturer.
  • 2008-2012 – Represented Fortune 1000 international performance and specialty chemicals manufacturer in a commercial real estate dispute against another international performance materials manufacturer at the federal trial court and appellate levels, and now counseling client on implementation of ongoing business, real estate, and environmental aspects of confidential settlement of the dispute.
  • 2010-2011 – Defended manufacturer of agricultural machinery parts against warranty claims, resulting in settlement at less than 20% of opponent’s claim.
  • 2010-2011 – In dispute involving complicated legal and factual issues surrounding liability of guarantor to creditor client involving several hundred thousand dollars owed by a distressed entity, obtained a favorable confidential settlement with the guarantor after six months of challenging negotiations, without client being subjected to the expense of litigation.
  • 2009-2010 – Won stay of litigation in favor of arbitration in a commercial breach of contract claim where the plaintiff sought over $600,000 in alleged damages, with the stay resulting in a confidential settlement.
  • 2007-2009 – Litigated on behalf of international fluid systems components companies in executive compensation litigation seeking in excess of $25 million in compensatory damages and in excess of $25 million in punitive damages.
  • 2009 – Litigated on behalf of international designer and manufacturer of induction heating and melting equipment in litigation in federal court involving claims for fraudulent transfer, replevin, conversion, tortious interference, and successor liability, with the plaintiff seeking injunctive relief and damages in excess of $3 million, culminating in a confidential settlement.

Class action sample experience:

  • 2012 – Interviewed by Westlaw Class Action Reporter for article on Lifetime Fitness class actions.
  • 2010 – Won Civil Rule 12(B)(6) dismissal in statewide class action lawsuit on bank client’s behalf before case progressed to class certification stage.
  • 2007-2008 – Assisted national retailer in the positioning of a putative class action for an early favorable settlement.
  • 2007 – Defended client against federal class action lawsuit alleging violations of consumer protection laws, with action being voluntarily dismissed with no class certified and no payments made to plaintiffs.
  • 2005-2007 – Litigated on behalf of Canadian hotel in lawsuit alleging violations of Telephone Consumer Protection Act and seeking certification of a class action, culminating in favorable confidential settlement.
  • 2005-2007 – Helped obtain certification of a statewide class involving thousands of class plaintiffs on behalf of non-profit organization focused on real property owners’ rights.
  • 2004 – Helped secure total victory on appeal in a nationwide consumer protection class action seeking tens of millions of dollars.

Sweepstakes and Games of Skill Promotions and Consumer Laws Counseling

James has counseled corporate clients on over 35 sweepstakes and games of skill promotions, including the legality of promotions; the structuring and implementation of promotions to comply with federal, state, and local statutes, regulations, and common law; the use of social networking media in promotions; and the protection against unintended liability resulting from promotions.
Below is a sample of recent sweepstakes and games of skill counseling provided to clients by James:

  • Points program grocery store cart fillup promotion for health care company employees (2015).
  • E-billing enrollment programs for multiple clients (2015).
  • Guidelines for promotional sweepstakes developed for use by diversified energy company (2015).
  • Photography contest featuring client goods (2014).
  • Guidelines for promotional sweepstakes in the United States for a Canadian client (2014).
  • Publicity and privacy guide for use in U.S. consumer and commercial transactions for Canadian tire and rubber track manufacture, as well as multiple sweepstakes marketing promotions (2013).
  • Advised multiple clients on issues relating to establishment and administration of customer loyalty programs (2013).
  • Design and administration of $1 million cash promotional sweepstakes giveaway for Ohio energy supplier (2012).
  • Multiple sweepstakes and games of skill marketing promotions sponsored by major Ohio health-care insurer, including issues surrounding HIPAA and consumer rights and privacy laws (2012).
  • Raffle-style sweepstakes sponsored by a home goods exposition promoter (2011).
  • International contest of skill sponsored by global manufacturer and distributor of non-acute medical equipment (2011).
  • Health care coverage giveaway contest sponsored by largest food and nutrition company in the world (2010).
  • Multiple sweepstakes promotions sponsored by global manufacturer of paper packaging materials and systems (2011, 2010).
  • Multiple sweepstakes promotions sponsored by 900-employee manufacturer of snack products (2009).
  • Sweepstakes sponsored by multinational company specializing in high performance engineered materials (2008).
  • Multiple sweepstakes for manufacturer and distributor of products used in production of manufactured homes (2008, 2007).
  • Anniversary sweepstakes for the seventh-oldest zoo in the United States (2007).
Benchmark Litigation
OSBA Certified Specialist
Rated by Super Lawyers 

Contact James

Practice Areas

Education

  • University of Virginia School of Law, J.D., 2001
  • John Carroll University, B.A., in Philosophy, magna cum laude, 1998

Admissions

  • State of Ohio
  • U.S. District Courts (Northern and Sourthern Districts of Ohio)
  • U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Sixth and Eleventh Circuits
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Contact James

  • kjsullivan@calfee.com
  • 216.622.8567
  • vCard

Practice Areas

  • Insurance Recovery
  • Business, Corporate and Commercial Litigation
  • Real Estate Litigation
  • Appellate Proceedings Litigation
  • Entertainment, Media and the Arts

Education

  • University of Virginia School of Law, J.D., 2001
  • John Carroll University, B.A., in Philosophy, magna cum laude, 1998

Admissions

  • State of Ohio
  • U.S. District Courts (Northern and Sourthern Districts of Ohio)
  • U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Sixth and Eleventh Circuits
  • U.S. Supreme Court