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Christopher Sullivan, Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP Photo

Christopher J. Sullivan

Partner / New York City

Overview

Christopher J. Sullivan is a partner in the firm’s Litigation Department. Chris is a highly regarded trial and appellate lawyer with more than 35 years of experience. He focuses his practice on complex real estate, commercial, corporate, and banking litigation, and has extensive experience in joint venture disputes. Chris has led numerous precedent-setting cases in the Second Circuit and New York State Court of Appeals. A prominent litigator in the New York legal landscape, he has tried over 25 jury trials to verdict and numerous bench trials and arbitrations.

Lenders, owners, developers, and investors frequently engage Chris in litigation concerning complex real estate-related transactions; creditors’ rights, including mortgage and UCC foreclosures, workouts, and restructuring of real estate secured debt, bankruptcy proceedings, and judgment collection; partnership and joint venture disputes; mezzanine loans and intercreditor relationships; hotel development and operation; and land use and construction.

Chris is also a trusted counsellor to corporate boards, committees, directors, and top executives, where he provides litigation representation and strategic advice on critically important business issues. He has significant experience in litigation involving the break-up or restructuring of privately-held corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies. An authority on legal malpractice matters, Chris represents law firms and other professional practices in connection with disputes among the partners or owners.

Additionally, Chris is frequently sought out by Am Law 100 law firms and individual attorneys in complex disputes. He served as appellate counsel in two of the leading cases in New York regarding the fiduciary duties owed by lawyers to their law firms. His work in Graubard v. Moskovitz is widely recognized as fundamentally reframing the fiduciary responsibility of lawyers when they leave their firms, thereby altering the rules for the legal profession itself.

Notable Experience and Client Impact

Real Estate Litigation

  • Represented a public REIT in litigation in New York for over 25 years.
  • Won a $21 million judgment for the seller of a controlling interest in a public REIT.
  • Won a $31 million judgment after trial for a partner in a New York real estate partnership.
  • Represented an Israeli bank in successfully foreclosing on or restructuring close to $1 billion in defaulted construction loans.
  • In a case of first impression on behalf of an Irish bank, obtained a court order permitting a statutory rents receiver in a $200 million mortgage foreclosure action to complete construction of the mortgagor’s unfinished condominium project in Manhattan.
  • Won a trial in the Kings County Supreme Court to determine title to two parcels of property in Brooklyn Heights.

Financial Services Litigation

  • Successfully enjoined UCC foreclosure sale of pledged ownership interest case in a $350 million project in Minneapolis, MN.
  • Represented major money center banks in securitized debt litigation.
  • Represented hard money lenders in lender liability and usury litigation around the country.
  • Won a bench trial in the Southern District of New York on behalf of a Chinese community bank.

Business Litigation

  • Represented an association of 525 garment contractors in a jury trial in the Southern District of New York, successfully removed the defendants from control of the association and (through the association) a significant part of the garment industry in New York City.
  • Won a jury trial in the New York Supreme Court against a management company for wrongfully transferring interests in management contracts.
  • Won a jury trial in the Southern District of New York for breach of a financial services consulting contract.
  • Successfully defended the majority owners of a closely-held bread crumb manufacturer in Brooklyn in 12 consecutive shareholder litigations.
  • Served as lead trial counsel for a public company in an insurance coverage lawsuit that was settled for over $63 million.
  • Served as lead trial counsel for a corporate client in a racketeering case against European lenders that was settled for over $50 million.

Professional Services Malpractice

  • Won a million-dollar judgment for legal malpractice arising out of reinsurance arbitration.
  • Represented a major New York law firm in legal malpractice lawsuits.
  • Successfully enforced post-employment restrictive covenants in various litigations involving accounting firms, insurance agencies, and manufacturers.
  • Won summary judgment dismissing sex discrimination claims against a New York law firm.

Corporate Restructuring

  • Successfully defended a major New York law firm in a series of litigations filed by a partner who was effectively expelled when the firm dissolved and reconstituted without her.
  • Successfully invalidated as an unreasonable restraint on alienation an option between business partners regarding the sale of stock in their corporation.
  • Won judgment after trial dismissing claims against a group of law partners who left their firm with client relationships.
  • Defended in a precedent-setting case a group of law partners who left their firm with major client relationships.

Unique Complex Litigation

  • Successfully invalidated on ERISA pre-emption grounds a section of the New York Business Corporation Law that was being used to impose personal liability on the owners of closely held companies for penalties under a collective bargaining agreement.
  • Won partial judgment in the Eastern District of New York invalidating as illusory a halachically based contract for the sale of properties in Brooklyn.
  • Overturned the decision of a Bet Din religious tribunal on a motion to vacate the arbitration award.
  • Defeated a series of constitutional challenges to a defamation lawsuit against a group of religious figures involving the issuance of a “heter me’ ah rabbanim.”

Prior to joining Nutter, Chris was a member in Mintz’s New York office. Before that, he was a partner at Herrick in New York. He is fluent in Italian, Mandarin, and French.

News & Insights

Honors

Honors

  • Best Lawyers in America, 2022

Education & Admissions

Education

New York University School of Law, J.D.
Catholic University of America, B.A.

Admissions

  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of New York
  • United States District Court for the Western District of New York
  • United States Supreme Court

Languages

  • French
  • Italian
  • Mandarin
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