Thomas Sullivan

Thomas B. Sullivan

Partner He / Him / His
New York

Thomas B. Sullivan represents media clients in defamation, invasion of privacy, access, intellectual property, and other content-related matters, and has represented a variety of clients in a wide range of civil and criminal matters.

Thomas previously was with the highly regarded First Amendment boutique law firm Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, which merged with Ballard Spahr in October 2017.


Representative Matters

Mr. Sullivan worked on legal teams that:

  • Secured the appellate reversal of a $1.85 million jury verdict in favor of former Minnesota governor and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura for unjust enrichment and defamation. In Ventura v. Kyle, the court held that there is no valid claim for unjust enrichment in the context of an alleged defamation and remanded Ventura’s defamation claim for a new trial.
  • Obtained dismissal of 25 of 31 copyright infringement claims brought by photographer David Wells against textbook publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc. The court granted summary judgment for Wiley on the grounds that the claims involved photographs that had been properly licensed for use by Wiley, were covered by a settlement agreement between Wiley and Wells’ licensing agent, or for which Wells did not offer any evidence of infringement. The court also held that Wells could not recover statutory damages or attorneys’ fees regarding four of the remaining claims.
  • Defended Albany reporter James Odato against claims brought under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Stored Communications Act in NXIVM Corp. v. Foley. Granting an initial motion to dismiss, the court held that the claims were barred by the statute of limitations.
  • Obtained the dismissal of all claims against ESPN, Major League Baseball Advanced Media, and the New York Yankees brought by a Yankees fan whose slumber during a game against the Red Sox was captured on camera. The plaintiff in Rector v. Major League Baseball Advanced Media alleged that defendants had defamed him during the broadcast, but the court rejected these arguments, holding that the defendants had made no false statements about the plaintiff and that they owed no duty to protect him from the allegedly defamatory statements of others who saw the broadcast.

Professional Highlights

Judicial Clerkships

Hon. Amalya L. Kearse of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Hon. Richard J. Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Professional Activities

New York City Bar Association, Communications and Media Law Committee, Secretary

Recognition & Accomplishments

The Best Lawyers in America, Media Law, 2023

Legal 500, Media and Entertainment Law: Litigation, 2023, 2024

Chambers USA, Media and Entertainment: Litigation (New York), 2022-2024; Media and Entertainment: First Amendment Litigation (New York), 2023, 2024

Benchmark Litigation, "40 & Under List," - Entertainment, Intellectual Property, Media (Northeast), 2022, 2023


“Badging: Section 230 Immunity in a Web 2.0 World,” Note, 123 Harvard Law Review 981, 2010

“The Supreme Court 2007 Term – Leading Cases: Baze v. Rees,” 122 Harvard Law Review 286, 2008

“Recent Case: Westbrook v. Penley,” 121 Harvard Law Review 676, 2007



Harvard Law School (J.D. 2009, cum laude)
Executive Editor, Harvard Law Review
Staff Member, Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review
Staff Member, Harvard Journal of Law and Technology

Yale University (B.A. 2006, cum laude)
Managing Editor, Yale Daily News


New York

New Jersey

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

U.S. District Courts for the Southern, Eastern, Western, and Northern Districts of New York

U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

U.S. Tax Court