Susan K. Burkhart, a partner with Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP since its founding in 1992, focuses in the Insurance Coverage Practice Group. Susan counsels and defends large and small insurers and agents in their most complex and sensitive insurance cases.

Susan’s decades of professional achievement are recognized in her attainment of the highest (“AV”) rating in Martindale-Hubbell, a prestigious peer review rating for attorneys.  She has litigated over one hundred declaratory judgment actions for insurers in her 30+ year career, including coverage actions arising from class action lawsuits.

Susan has also been honored and selected by her peers as one of The Best Lawyers in America® in the area of insurance coverage.  She has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America® publication since 2007 and has been selected through balloting as one of North Carolina’s Super Lawyers since 2009.

Susan has served as the Chair of the Litigation Section of the North Carolina Bar Association and as a member of the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Bar Association and the Wake County Bar Association. She has tried numerous jury and bench trials in the Superior Courts and the United States District Courts, while enjoying a strong motions practice in her representation of insurers in declaratory judgment actions. Susan has also represented numerous insurers and agents in first-party bad faith, extra-contractual, and errors and omissions claims and suits.

In the municipal land use field, Susan defends numerous towns and cities across North Carolina, and their public officials, in constitutional challenges to zoning and land use ordinances and practices.

Representative Matters

Cases or matters referenced do not represent the lawyer’s entire record. Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The outcome of a particular case cannot be predicated upon a lawyer’s or a law firm’s past results.

Insurance Coverage:

  • Obtained judgment from the United States District Court declaring a single occurrence for e.coli outbreak.
  • Obtained reimbursement for insurer in primary/excess declaratory judgment action in the United States District Court.
  • Obtained judgment and decision affirmed by the North Carolina Supreme Court declaring that a commercial general liability and professional liability insurance policy afforded no coverage for a police officer for alleged sexual misconduct.
  • Obtained judgment affirmed by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals declaring that an insurer owed no liability coverage under a commercial auto policy for an additional insured driving a non-owned auto.
  • Obtained judgment affirmed by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals declaring that another insurer owed pro-rata liability for prejudgment interest on a large settlement.
  • Obtained judgment from the United States District Court declaring that an insurer owed no UM/UIM coverage for injury to a passenger in a non-owned vehicle.
  • Obtained judgment from the United States District Court declaring that an insurer owed no liability coverage for a vehicle in “dead storage.”
  • Obtained judgment and successful appeal to the North Carolina Court of Appeals declaring that a commercial excess insurance policy did not “drop down” and become excess upon the insolvency of the primary insurer.
  • Obtained judgment and successful appeal to the North Carolina Court of Appeals declaring that an insurer properly cancelled a policy of automobile liability insurance despite a technical departure from the prescribed cancellation notice.
  • Obtained judgment and successful appeal to the North Carolina Court of Appeals declaring that an insurer properly cancelled an automobile liability insurance policy by mailing the cancellation to the insured’s policy address despite the return of such notice for nondelivery.
  • Obtained defense verdict for agent at trial in a claim that the agent failed to procure insurance coverage on a tractor/trailer.
  • Obtained judgment and successful appeal for agent on statute of limitations defense.

Municipal Land Use Defense:

  • Successfully argued to the North Carolina Supreme Court that a landowner’s constitutional challenges to a zoning ordinance were mooted upon the sale of the property.
  • Successfully argued to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that a landowner had no valid equal protection or due process claim arising from the town’s allocation of sewer services.
  • Successfully argued to the United States District Court that a landowner had no valid constitutional challenge to a town’s enactment of a moratorium on new construction.
  • Successfully argued to the United States District Court that a landowner had no “vested rights” to proceed with its development after an amendment in a zoning ordinance.
  • Successfully argued to the United States District Court that a landowner had no valid constitutional or statutory challenge to a town’s alleged delay in the issuance of a building permit to a developer.
  • Successfully argued to the North Carolina Court of Appeals that a landowner’s common law, statutory and constitutional challenges to a zoning ordinance were barred by the statute of limitations.

Articles, Presentations, and Publications

  • Author and presenter, “Coverage for Cyber Liability Claims,” North Carolina Bar Association Insurance Law annual meeting, April 11, 2014.
  • Author and presenter, “Hot Topics in Commercial General Liability Insurance,” North Carolina Bar Association, Fall 2009.
  • Author and Speaker, “Insurance Coverage Issues in Construction Claims,” N.C. Defense Attorneys Association, Fall 2007.
  • Co-Author, “North Carolina Bad Faith Insurance Compendium,” Defense Research Institute, 2008, 2009.
  • “Recent Developments in CGL, Auto and Property Law: 2008,” Fall CSH Educational Seminar 2008.
  • “Recent Developments in CGL, Auto and Property Law: 2007,” Spring CSH Educational Seminar 2007.
  • Author and Speaker “Recent Developments in CGL, Auto and Property Law,”  Annual CSH Educational Seminar 2005 to present.
  • Author and Speaker, “Material Misrepresentations and Other Ways to Avoid Coverage,” North Carolina Bar Association.
  • Author and Speaker, “Civil Procedure, Nuts and Bolts of North Carolina Law,” North Carolina Bar Association.
  • Author and Speaker, “Vested Rights Can Cost You,” North Carolina League of Municipalities Fall Seminar 2010.

Most Recent Posts

  News

CSH Law Attorneys Recognized by Women in the Law List

Close up of star awards

Seven female attorneys from Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP (CSH Law) were recently listed among the 2017 Women in the Law by Best Lawyers Business Edition. The list was printed in the Spring 2017 edition and recognizes female attorneys from each state.… Read More

  News

CSH Law Attorneys Participate in 4ALL Statewide Service Day

paper people chain

Six attorneys from Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP (CSH Law) participated in the North Carolina Bar Association’s 10th Annual 4ALL Statewide Service Day on Friday, March 3. The statewide event is sponsored by the North Carolina Bar Association Foundation and the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA).… Read More

  News

Susan Burkhart Speaks About Cyber Insurance

law

Susan Burkhart, Chair of the Insurance Law & Coverage Practice Group at Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP, will discuss “Insurance Coverage for Cyber Exposures” at the 2016 Insurance Law Section Annual Meeting and CLE on April 25. Susan’s presentation will address recent caselaw addressing coverage for cyber events under CGL policies and new cyber liability policies.… Read More

  News

CSH Law Attorneys Participate in 4ALL Statewide Service Day

Jar of pennies with "Community Give Back" Printed on the side

Eight attorneys from Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP (CSH Law) participated in the North Carolina Bar Association’s 9th Annual 4ALL Statewide Service Day on Friday, March 4. The statewide event is sponsored by the North Carolina Bar Association Foundation and the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA).… Read More

  News

Susan Burkhart to Speak at I-Day 2015 Event

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Susan Burkhart, the Chair of the Insurance Law & Coverage Practice Group at Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP (CSH Law), will be a featured speaker at “Meeting Tomorrow’s Challenges | I-Day 2015.”… Read More