Sulema Medrano Novak is an accomplished and award-winning trial lawyer with extensive first-chair experience leading trial teams to verdict. Her practice focuses on sophisticated insurance and commercial disputes, including insurance coverage, consumer fraud and bad faith claims, breach of contract, professional liability, information privacy, and wrongful death. In addition to representing clients in highly specialized commercial litigation matters, Sulema has been a visible advocate for women and diverse members of the legal community.
Sulema’s previous experience as an Illinois state prosecutor honed her courtroom skills and prescient judgment, and reinforced her commitment to advancing diversity in the legal profession. While in law school, Sulema served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Ruben Castillo, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
- Represented insurers in complex coverage disputes, individual litigation, regulatory compliance and bad faith claims.
- Defended and responded to discovery requests for internal proprietary and trade secret company information.
- Successfully mediated a wrongful-death cause of action for the negligent issuance of a life insurance policy on behalf of insurer for less than 10% of the initial settlement demand.
- Successfully mediated a breach of contract and bad faith claim arising out of a coverage dispute concerning the calculation and application of premiums for a Survivorship Life Insurance Policy.
- Successfully arbitrated multiple large-scale first-party claims for breach of contract arising from large-scale fire-, water- and weather-related losses.
- Negotiated settlements and dismissals in mediations and settlement conferences in complex multimillion-dollar coverage disputes and claims of bad faith against an insurer in Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.
- Obtained dozens of dismissals on behalf of an insurer in federal and state courts for bad faith and consumer fraud claims.
- Provides in-house training on insurance issues, handling claims and bad faith avoidance.
- Obtained multiple dismissals and summary judgments in favor of an insurer on grounds that the insured failed to comply with the conditions of the policy.
- Secured a dismissal of a third-party complaint against an insurer, which found the insurer had no duty to investigate the sufficiency of coverage before renewing policy.
- Successfully first-chaired a wrongful-death negligent spoliation claim with a $22.5 million demand that settled for six figures after motions in limine and jury selection.
- Negotiated settlements and dismissals in mediations and settlement conferences in coverage disputes and claims of bad faith against insurers in Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.
- Successfully first-chaired a jury trial for breach of contract and bad faith penalties that settled after motions in limine for 20% of original demand.
- Successfully first-chaired a bench trial and secured a verdict in favor of an insurer holding an uninsured motorist.
- Obtained multiple dismissals and summary judgments in favor of an insurer in federal and state courts for bad faith claims.
- Obtained summary judgment on behalf of an insurer declaring that the insurer owed no duty to defend or indemnify the insured in underlying lawsuit.
- Successfully defended an insurer against claims for damages under the common fund doctrine.
- Obtained multiple summary judgments in favor of an insurer, finding that the bodily injury liability coverages for each vehicle under the insurance policy may not be stacked; affirmed by Illinois Court of Appeals.
- Obtained summary judgment in favor of an insurer declaring that the insured breached the Concealment or Fraud Condition of the policy.
- Successfully mediated a multimillion-dollar claim for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary duty and material misrepresentation on behalf of securities investment firm.
- Obtained summary judgment on behalf of a property owner who was sued for allegedly maintaining a dangerous condition leading to the plaintiff’s extensive injuries.
- Secured dismissal on behalf of a hotel property owner at the initial pleading stage for claims of negligent hiring and supervision of an employee arising out of an alleged sexual assault.
- First-chaired a premises liability personal injury case that settled for a fraction of the total demand after securing favorable rulings during motions in limine.
- Secured dismissal on behalf of a managed care company from suit alleging breach of contract and common law fraud.
- Secured dismissal of complaint alleging violation of the False Claims Act (FCA)/ Qui Tam on behalf of a managed care company.
- Successfully defended equipment manufacturer from a suit alleging defamation, libel and slander.
- Successfully defended against efforts by a plaintiff’s counsel to pierce the corporate veil in a premises liability personal injury case.
- Represented and counseled national a trucking company in a multi-suit action against various towing companies for replevin, consumer fraud and conversion.
- Three’s Company? Navigating a Liability Insurer’s Duty to Defend, Settle, and Indemnify and Conflicts Arising in Tri-Partite Relationships, Hispanic National Bar Association, New York, NY (September 2019)
- Navigating Landmine Corporate Representative Depositions, Hispanic National Bar Association Corporate Counsel Conference, Albuquerque, NM (March 2019)
- 3L Latinx, Law & Learning, Junior Achievement of Chicago, Robert Morris University, Chicago, IL (September 2018)
- Navigating Bet the Company and Complex Insurance Coverage Issues, Hispanic National Bar Association 2018 Annual Convention, Philadelphia, PA (September 2018)
- State of Latinos in Law Symposium, Private Sector Panel, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Chicago, IL (September 2017)
- Latina Success in New Chicago Economy, Northwestern Mutual, Chicago, IL (September 2017)
- Bad Faith Nightmares: Recent Trends & Themes in Bad Faith and Extra-Contractual Insurance Litigation, Hispanic National Bar Association Annual Conference, Kansas City, MO (Sept. 2017)
- Beware of Spoliation: Civil and Criminal Penalties for Destroying Stale Information, Hispanic National Bar Associations Annual Conference, Chicago, IL (September 2016)
- Ask the Experts: The Power of Networking, Mass Mutual Financial Group, Chicago, IL (May 2016)
- Tips & Advice: Common New Lawyer Mistakes to Avoid, Hispanic National Bar Association Annual Conference (September 2015)
Latina Lawyer of the Year, Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois (2018)
Top Lawyer Under 40 List, Hispanic National Bar Association (2017)
Top 40 Illinois Attorneys Under 40, The Law Bulletin (2016)
Chicago-Kent Alumni Awards, Outstanding Young Alumna Award (2019)
Awards Methodology (www.drinkerbiddle.com/content/awards)
- Chicago-Kent College of Law, J.D.
- Michigan State University, B.A., cum laude
- U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois
- Hispanic National Bar Association, Region IX President, Chair Commission on Women
- American Bar Association, Member, Standing Committee on Gun Violence
- Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, Board of Directors, 2017−2018