Since joining the firm in 1985 and becoming a partner in 1989, Susan Harriman has handled a wide range of complex business litigation. She has tried state and federal cases involving commercial disputes, real estate, and wrongful termination. She has also arbitrated cases before the American Arbitration Association, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and JAMS, Inc.
Cases of Note
Robin Antonick v. Electronic Arts Inc.: Robin Antonick, programmer of the John Madden Football video game for the Apple II that was released in 1988, alleged that EA owed him royalties on sales of all Madden Football video games over the last twenty-two years. Antonick claimed that all Madden games since 1990 are derivative works of the game he programmed, and he was therefore owed royalties under a 1986 contract with EA. On behalf of EA, we contended that none of Antonick’s source code, which was written for a more primitive platform and was outdated by the time it was released, was ever used in any subsequent Madden game. Although the jury found in favor of Antonik, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer later entered judgment for EA, reversing the award and strongly discouraging similar suits based on additional versions of the game. Judge Breyer's ruling was affirmed on appeal.
Javorsky v. Western Athletic Clubs, Inc.: We won summary judgment for a chain of luxury health clubs, which faced a class action alleging age discrimination based upon discounted pricing for the clubs’ younger members. After winning at the trial court, we then successfully defended our victory on appeal to the California Court of Appeal. In affirming the trial court’s order, the Court of Appeal held that our clients’ pricing model was not only non-discriminatory, but in fact was supported by public policy.
Televisa v. Univision Communications: We represented Univision, the country's leading Spanish language television network, in a breach of contract jury trial. Televisa, a Mexican multimedia conglomerate which supplied Univision with its most popular Spanish language programs, attempted to terminate a long-term exclusive licensing agreement and sought more than $100 million in damages. The case was settled during trial on favorable terms. We also represented Univision in a bench trial which sought declaratory judgment to prevent Televisa from broadcasting over the Internet the same highly popular programs that it exclusively licensed to Univision. We won a complete victory at trial.
Backers v. Alameda County District Attorney's Office, Tom Orloff: We successfully defended the Alameda County District Attorney and the District Attorney's Office from accusations of gender discrimination. Working with top female attorneys in the D.A.’s office, we proved the plaintiff’s allegations were unfounded and secured summary judgment.
Pande v. Chevron: We won a $5.5 million jury verdict against Chevron for wrongfully terminating and retaliating against a female petroleum engineer. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the award.
Maritime Association v. Miniace: We successfully defended an individual in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) action brought by her deceased husband’s employer. The employer sought to recoup the $10 million insurance proceeds paid to our client upon her husband's death. After a two-week court trial, judgment was awarded in favor of our client. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the judgment.
Spitler v. Jenner Biotherapies, Inc.: We defended Jenner Biotherapies and one of its significant investors from breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and negligence claims. During a two-week jury trial, the federal court threw out five of the seven claims. The jury split on the remaining two claims, and awarded a fraction of the plaintiff's original demand.
Awards and Honors
- Top 100 Women Lawyers, Daily Journal, 2005 - present
- Best Lawyers in America, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Legal Malpractice Law, Regulatory Enforcement, and Securities Litigation, 2006 - present
- Leading Trial Lawyer, The Legal 500, 2011 - present
- Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Rating, 2016
- Best Lawyers in America, Lawyer of the Year, 2014
- Named one of the "Women Leaders in the Law" by ALM, 2014
- Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers, 2011
- Top 50 Women Northern California Super Lawyers, 2009, 2010
- Top 100 Northern California Super Lawyers, Business Litigation, 2008, 2010
- Named to her high school’s Wall of Fame "in recognition of scholarship, leadership, and community service," 2000
- Peace Corp Volunteer, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire) (1976-1978)
- House Information Systems, Committee on House Administration in Washington, D.C. (1978-1980)
- Teaching fellow, Stanford University Law School (1983-1984)
- Appointed by Mayor Gavin Newsom to San Francisco’s Ethics Commission (2006-2010); elected Chairperson (2006-2008)
- Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
- Fellow, International Academy of Trial Lawyers
- Member, National Board of Regents, American College of Trial Lawyers (2014-2018)