Susan E. Coleman is a Partner at Burke, Williams & Sorensen LLP with over 22 years litigation experience. Ms. Coleman worked for the Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, for over 13 years. For the last 9 years, Ms. Coleman has represented various entities such as the cities of Alhambra, Hemet, Inglewood, Los Angeles, Modesto, Newport Beach, and Riverside; the counties of San Bernardino and Orange; the Geo Group; Management & Training Corporation; the Bureau of Prisons, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and those entities’ individual employees. Because of this history defending agencies and corporations, and their employees, she has a strong background in tort litigation, constitutional law/civil rights litigation, employment law, and premises liability.
Ms. Coleman has defended individuals and officials, entities and corporations in 45 civil jury trials in federal and state courts throughout California, with very successful results (over 95% defense verdicts). Ms. Coleman is an associate of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA).
Ms. Coleman also has extensive experience with class action litigation, including several class actions on behalf of the Department of Corrections, and she represented the Board of Parole Hearings in a lengthy bench trial involving the Americans with Disabilities Act (Armstrong v. Davis). In the last few years, Ms. Coleman has defeated class certification in three cases.
Ms. Coleman has consistently taken measures to ensure excellent representation of law enforcement agencies in a cost-effective manner. For example, she has recommended LVN review and summary of medical records (providing a medical expertise at a fraction of attorney billing rates); she keeps brief banks on common areas of law in order to avoid re-inventing the wheel for each case; and she takes every effort to eliminate defendants and/or claims from the case at the earliest opportunity, prevailing on many cases at the motion to dismiss or demurrer stage. While many cases cannot be defeated at the initial motion stage, Ms. Coleman has had excellent results in prevailing in summary judgment and at trial. She is also in favor of, and actively pursues, measures to decrease future litigation, such as pursuing the award and recovery of costs after prevailing, and having plaintiffs declared as vexatious litigants where appropriate.
During law school, Ms. Coleman served as Articles Editor for the Santa Clara Law Review. In addition, she held a clerkship for the California Court of Appeal, Fourth District for Justice J. Smith. After obtaining her J.D., Ms. Coleman attended San Francisco State University’s Master’s in Tax program from 1994-1996.