Valerie Sullan was born in Evanston, Illinois, in 1953. She attended the University of Colorado where she graduated cum laude in 1975. She then attended law school at the University of Southern Illinois, obtaining her degree and graduating cum laude in 1979. While in law school she was a member of the Board of Editors of the Southern Illinois University Law Journal and was President of the Moot Court board. She was also a member of the National Order of Barristers and National Client Counseling Team.
After graduating from law school, Ms. Sullan clerked for the Honorable Ralph H. Coyte of the Colorado Court of Appeals. She has practiced civil litigation law in Colorado since 1979.
Ms. Sullan focuses on materials and construction-defect (and related insurance coverage) litigation. She has been lead counsel in eleven different class-action suits against some of Colorado’s major homebuilders and product suppliers. She was lead counsel for a 1,600-person class of homeowners in a successful class action tried in Douglas County, Colorado, in 1996. She also has handled hundreds of construction defect cases involving a variety of subjects, including expansive and settling soils, landslides, faulty construction materials, and products, architectural and engineering design defects, and improper construction.
Ms. Sullan has handled many of the largest and most important construction defect cases for Colorado homeowners since 1994. One Denver paper observed that: “some builders settled quickly after watching Sullan at work in 1996. During the trial, officials with Richmond Homes told Sullan they wanted to settle a separate class-action case he had filed on behalf of 12,300 Richmond homeowners. She tried Mission Viejo by day and negotiated with Richmond by night. In June 1996, Richmond agreed to pay Sullan’s firm $1.9 million and to spend tens of millions more to remedy problems.”
Ms. Sullan’s work led to the following news headlines in 2005:
- “Builder Okays $39 Million End to Suit: largest settlement of construction defects lawsuit in Colorado history”
- “Lawsuit Over Defects in Condos Resolved: D.R. Horton, the Texas-based home-building titan, has paid a record $39.5 million settlement to resolve a defective-construction lawsuit brought by condo owners”
- “Firms Will Pay $32 Million to Settle Suit Over Windows”
Ms. Sullen was selected a “Colorado Super Lawyer” based on a survey of Colorado attorneys and is also named to Best Lawyers in America.
In 2007, Ms. Sullan was the only Colorado lawyer who primarily represents homeowners and homeowner associations given the highest rating from Chambers & Partners, a legal publisher that described him as “the absolute best on residential construction defects.” In 2009 alone, Ms. Sullan was instrumental in securing more than $75 million in construction defect settlements for homeowner associations.
Ms. Sullan is one of Colorado’s best-known lecturers regarding construction litigation and has coauthored with Ron Sandgrund and Leslie Tuft the only books dealing exclusively with Colorado construction defect litigation, the most recent edition of which book received the 2011 National Award of Professional Excellence from the Association for Continuing Legal Education. She also has co-authored with Ms. Sandgrund a chapter on legal ethics and professional responsibility, last updated in 2011.
Ms. Sullan frequently presents continuing legal education courses to other lawyers. Ms. Sullan testifies often on behalf of homeowners before Colorado’s legislature, and she has helped draft laws affecting homeowner interests. Ms. Sullan was one of the driving forces behind House Bill 1338, the Homeowners Protection Act of 2007. She met with legislators, citizens and newspaper editors to answer their questions regarding the blanket waiver of legal rights that much of the residential building industry has been putting in home purchase contracts. House Bill 1338 limits such waivers and preserves for homeowners the basic legal rights the building industry agreed to when it lobbied for passage of the Construction Defect Action Reform Act in 2003. H.B. 1338 became Colorado law on April 20, 2007.