Recent Successes

Colin Campbell

Trial:  Miller v American Family Mutual Insurance Company, U.S. Dist. Ct., Colorado, May, 2015

Plaintiffs, whose home sustained fire, smoke and water damage in the Waldo Canyon fire, sued their insurer for breach of contract as well as for common law and statutory bad faith, claiming that their insurer failed to properly adjust their claim or adequately compensate them for their damages. Plaintiffs sought over $300,000 in collective damages and claimed statutory penalties.  The jury reached a defense verdict in favor of our client insurer on all claims asserted.

Trial: Johnson v Offen Petroleum, Adams County District, January, 2016

Plaintiffs sued the defendant petroleum company to recover for noneconomic damages and loss of property value following an oil tanker spill which contaminated their property. Admitted liability. Plaintiffs sought recovery of more than $200,000 in damages. Our firm defended the petroleum company. The jury awarded $56,000.

Trial: Buck v Salzman, El Paso District Court. February 3 -6, 2014

Our client, Mr. Salzman caused an accident while having an epileptic seizure. He had a 20 year history of occasional seizures, and had caused another accident during a seizure several years before. His treating neurologist had cleared him to drive, but his prior neurologist, of the same neurologic practice group, testified at trial that he should not have been driving. Plaintiff’s car was flipped over onto its roof by impact. Plaintiff was a young woman in her mid twenties, complaining of persistent low back pain due to nonsurgical bulging disc. Pre- trial demand of $249,000, and had offered $40,000 (with indication to mediator during mediation of willingness to go to $60,000). The jury found in plaintiff’s favor, finding that Salzman assumed the risk of liability by continuing to drive after first seizure-caused auto accident. The jury awarded $70,000 in damages.

Trial: Samuels v Potter, Pitkin County District Court December 2015

Bifurcated liability trial held December 7 through 18, 2015. Lawsuit was brought by 9 passengers of a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus which lost control and overturned after swerving to avoid a slow moving farm tractor travelling at dusk on highway 82 near Carbondale. The three defendants at trial were the bus driver, the operator of the tractor, and our client, who owned the tractor and had loaned it to his friend who was driving the tractor down the highway. The passengers alleged our client to have been negligent in failing to detect that the slow moving vehicle emblem had become displaced and was missing at the time he loaned out the tractor. The jury allocated 50% liability to the bus driver, 45% liability to the operator of the tractor, and 5% to our client.

Court of Appeals: Laughman v Girtakovskis October 2015

The Plaintiff sued to recover for personal injuries sustained during a martial arts sparring match, which injury occurred when our client unintentionally struck the Plaintiff in the face. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in our client’s favor, upon grounds that a participant in a physical sporting event does not owe a duty of reasonable care to protect other participants from physical harm. This is the first reported Colorado appellate decision to clarify that one participant in a sporting event cannot sue another for negligence.

Trial:  White v. Conklin, Mesa County Dist. Ct., September and October, 2013

Personal injury lawsuit brought by state trooper who was struck by our client on a dark rural state highway outside Grand Junction, Colorado. Plaintiff was standing in a painted median on the roadway while he completed a diagram of a prior accident. Our client slowed and moved over to the left to give wider berth to emergency vehicles, parked along road to her right, and did not see the Plaintiff standing in her path until he was illuminated by her headlights. Plaintiff suffered a head injury, broken shoulder blade, multiple rib fractures and pulmonary embolism, and took early retirement from the state patrol 11 months later. The jury came back with a defense verdict, finding that our client was not negligent.

Court of Appeals: Rieger v. Wat Buddhawararam of Denver, November 2013

The Plaintiff suffered a broken leg when a large tree branch fell while Plaintiff was assisting other members of a volunteer work crew to trim a large elm tree at a Denver Buddhist temple. The Trial court had granted summary judgment in favor of our client Buddhist Temple upon grounds that there was no premises liability for a risk of which the plaintiff was admittedly aware, and the Temple was not vicariously liable for the alleged negligence of the fellow volunteer who was trimming the branch from above with a chain saw when the branch fell. The Court of Appeals affirmed the summary judgment in the Temple’s favor, with an extended discussion confirming the absence of vicarious liability under the circumstances presented.

Colin Campbell & Mike Frazier

Colorado Supreme Court: Hansen v American Family Mut. Ins. Co., 375 P.2d 115 (Colo. 2016) June, 2016

The Colorado Supreme Court reversed a judgment entered against our client by concluding that information contained in a lienholder statement issued by an insurance agent is not part of the insurance contract, and thus cannot create an ambiguity with regard to the identity of the named insured.

Colin Campbell & Clif Latiolais

Trial: Conklin v Metro Mix, LLC, Denver District Court, August, 2016

Plaintiff sued our client for personal injuries which she claims to have sustained when a cement chute flew off of client’s cement mixing truck travelling down the highway and struck the windshield of Plaintiff’s car. Admitted liability. Plaintiff claimed $135,000 in past medical expenses, $300,000 plus in future medical expenses and $190,000 in earnings loss, and asked for over $2,000,000 in trial. The jury awarded total damages of $175,000.

Colin Campbell

Trial: Chukkapalli v American Family Mutual Ins. Co., Arapahoe County District Court, June, 2017.

Plaintiff sued client for common law and statutory bad faith for denying coverage and refusing to defend Plaintiff against a claim by a university for damage to its lab equipment caused when the plaintiff activated a chemical shower while passing through a class room building during the middle of the night. The coverage question centered on whether the plaintiff’s actions were excluded from coverage by operation of the intentional injury exclusion. The jury reached a verdict in favor of our client on the claims for bad faith by finding that our client’s coverage decision had been reasonable.

Colin Campbell & Kirstin Dvorchak

Trial: Cronan v American Family Ins. Co., Arapahoe County District Court, October, 2016

Plaintiff sought property benefits under his homeowner’s policy for damages caused by a tree which struck the house after it was struck by lightning. The parties disputed whether the tree fall or the lightning strike compromised the structural integrity of the home. Plaintiff sought recovery of $278,000 in contract benefits at trial. The jury awarded $34,802 in contract benefits, of which $11,000 had been unreasonably delayed in payment.

Court of Appeals: Przekurat v Davis, December, 2016

The plaintiff was seriously injured in a single car accident while being driven home from a keg party by an intoxicated friend. The keg party had been hosted by four roommates at their rental home in Boulder. The Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment entered in favor of our client by finding that Colorado social host dram shop liability requires proof that the defendant knew the person drinking on the defendant’s premises was underage.

Court of Appeals:  Martinez v American Family Mutual Ins. Co., March, 2016

Homeowner sued insurer for benefits to pay for flood damage under homeowners’ policy following severe storm in which water overflowed through basement window wells. Plaintiff alleged water fell from roof into window wells, and thus did not constitute flood water. Court of Appeals affirmed grant of summary judgment to our client insurer upon grounds that the loss was excluded as flood water.

Trial:  Espinosa v American Family Mutual Ins. Co., Arapahoe County District Court, May, 2016

Plaintiff sued client insurer for uninsured motorist benefits, and for common law and statutory bad faith with regard to head injuries sustained in an auto accident. The jury found in our client’s favor on the bad faith claims, by finding that the insurer’s handling of the claim had been reasonable. The jury further found that the plaintiff had breached the policy’s cooperation clause with regard to our client’s investigation of the claim. The breach of the cooperation clause nullified any obligation to pay further benefits, resulting in judgment for our client on the contractual claim as well.

Clif Latiolais

Trial: Rosensohn v Schaefer, Boulder Dist. Ct., July, 2016

Following a collision on a ski slope, Plaintiff sued for injuries including a 4-level thoracic burst fracture requiring decompression and fusion, permanent disability and various economic losses.  Our client admitted fault, but argued comparative negligence. At trial, Plaintiff called two medical experts and an accident reconstruction expert. Plaintiff requested $2.2 million in closing argument. The jury returned a verdict of $1 million, but apportioned liability at 50-50, resulting in a defense verdict.

Court of Appeals, Munoz v American Family Mutual Ins. Co., February, 2017

The Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling that an insurance company is not required to include prejudgment interest when evaluating or settling a claim for uninsured motorist benefits. In so doing, it confirmed that the prejudgment interest statute governs the entitlement to, and timing of, recovery of interest.

Trial: Ewing v. Scott, Larimer County Dist. Ct., July 2013.

Personal injury lawsuit arising out of a highway rear-end automobile accident. Plaintiff claimed cervical, thoracic and shoulder injuries, and permanent debilitating injuries to her lumbar spine. Client admitted negligence in connection with the accident, but challenged the nature, extent and cause of Plaintiff’s claimed injuries and losses. Our client offered $35,000. At trial, Plaintiff sought $75,000 for past and future medical expenses, permanent disability and non-economic losses. The jury returned a verdict of $4,000.

Trial: Schimmel v. Kluge Brothers,Teller County Dist. Ct., September 2013.

Property damage lawsuit filed by a homeowner claiming damage to his in-floor radiant heat system as a result of negligent carpet installation by client flooring company. Our client admitted negligence in connection with the nailing of tack strips that punctured the heat tubes, but alleged comparative negligence in homeowner’s failure to advise of the radiant heat system. Plaintiff sought $80,000 in damages. Our client offered $20,000 to settle. The jury determined that damages were only $1,700, but apportioned 80% negligence to Plaintiff, thus barring recovery and resulting in the entry of a defense verdict.

Court of Appeals: Glowan v. Marion, October 2013.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s denial of Plaintiff’s motions to set aside the verdict and for new trial on liability and damages. The underlying case involved a high speed automobile accident in a residential neighborhood which rendered Plaintiff unconscious for 20 minutes. Plaintiff sought compensatory damages for numerous physical and psychological injuries, including permanent brain injuries, $80,000 in past medical expenses, additional amounts for future medical expenses and permanent disability and impairment. Plaintiff also sought punitive damages for Defendant’s driving 75 mph in a 35 mph zone. Our client admitted negligence, alleged comparative negligence, disputed punitive damages and challenged the nature, extent and cause of Plaintiff’s injuries and losses. Pre-trial, Plaintiff rejected Defendant’s policy limits offer of $250,000. Plaintiff requested $1,200,000 at trial. The jury apportioned 25% negligence to the Plaintiff, rejected Plaintiff’s punitive damages claim and permanent disability claim, and awarded $10,226 for economic and non-economic damages. The Court of Appeals rejected Plaintiff’s arguments that the jury verdict was grossly and manifestly inadequate, influenced by prejudice and other improper considerations, and contrary to the undisputed evidence.

Trial: Sanders v American Family, Welsh and Welsh Agency, Boulder Dist. Ct., April 2014

Bad faith lawsuit filed by homeowners who, after losing their home to the Fourmile Canyon Fire in Boulder County, claimed they were underinsured and unable to replace their property. Plaintiffs sued their agent and her agency, alleging negligence in placing coverage, and seeking reformation to increase the policy limits. They sued their insurer for common law bad faith, statutory bad faith, and equitable reformation. Damages sought were approximately $2,000,000. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the agent and her agency on all claims, and in favor of the insurer on all claims except one – failure to follow company policies concerning reformation. The total jury verdict was $100,000.

Clif Latiolais & Kirstin Dvorchak

Trial: Ness v. American Family Mutual. Ins. Co., U.S. Dist. Ct., Colorado, March, 2016

Plaintiffs, whose home sustained smoke, soot, and heat damage in the Waldo Canyon fire, sued their insurer for breach of contract and bad faith, claiming the company failed to properly adjust their loss or adequately compensate them for their damages. At trial, Plaintiffs sought contents and dwelling contract damages in excess of $290,000, treble damages and attorney fees. Prior to trial, the Court dismissed the Plaintiffs’ common law bad faith claim. The jury returned a verdict of $36, 496 for property damage, and a defense verdict on the statutory bad faith claims.

Trial: Macomber v. American Family Mutual. Ins. Co., U.S. Dist. Ct., Colorado, October, 2016

Plaintiffs sued their insurer for breach of contract and bad faith in its handling of a property loss claim arising out of the Waldo Canyon fire. The home adjacent to the Plaintiffs’ home burned to the ground, and Plaintiffs sought claimed sought contents and dwelling losses in excess of $150,000, treble damages and attorney fees. The jury returned a total defense verdict for American Family.

Clif Latiolais

Trial: LeValley v Morin, Denver Dist. Court, July, 2017

Plaintiff sued to recover for personal injuries and future wage losses resulting from a low speed rear end accident on I-25 in Denver. He alleged a permanent brain injury and chronic cervical orthopedic injuries. Our client admitted fault in the accident, but disputed the claimed injuries and losses. At trial, the Plaintiff introduced expert testimony from an orthopedic surgeon, a neuropsychologist, an accident reconstructionist and biomechanical engineer, as well as an economist. He requested the jury award $2 million in damages for his losses.  Following a five- day jury trial, the jurors awarded zero damages to the Plaintiff.

Rebecca Wagner

Trial: Beren v. Allstate, Jefferson County District Court, February, 2017

Bad faith lawsuit filed by insured who claimed she sustained a shoulder injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident.  The plaintiff sued her insurer, Allstate, for UIM benefits, common law bad faith and statutory bad faith.  During the course of discovery, Allstate obtained an IME that determined the shoulder injury was related to the motor vehicle accident, and policy limits were tendered.  The plaintiff withdrew her claim for UIM benefits and breach of contract, but continued to trial seeking damages for bad faith claims handling in excess of $500,000.  The jury returned a verdict in favor of the insurer on all claims, and also found that the plaintiff had failed to cooperate with her insurer in the investigation of her UIM claim. The insurer was awarded its costs.

Trial: Vermont v. Allstate, Denver County District Court, June, 2017

Bad faith lawsuit filed by Mr. and Mrs. Vermont, seeking UIM benefits following a motor vehicle accident.  Mrs. Vermont alleged that the accident resulted in acute kidney failure, along with cervical and lumbar spine injuries resulting in several subsequent surgeries that left the plaintiff in a wheelchair.  After her insurer determined that the injuries were not accident-related, and further determined that Mrs. Vermont had been compensated by the payment from the underlying carrier, the plaintiffs sued Allstate seeking policy limits, and bad faith damages (both common law and statutory).  Following a five-day jury trial, the jury found in favor of the defendant on all claims.  Additionally, the jury found that the plaintiffs had failed to cooperate in the investigation of Mrs. Vermont’s claim.  Following trial, the defendant filed a motion for costs and attorney fees, arguing that the plaintiffs’ claims were groundless, frivolous and vexatious.  The Court granted defendant’s motion and Allstate was awarded $142,000.

Trial: Schreiner v. Allstate, Boulder County District Court, November 2015.

Bad faith lawsuit filed by insured who claimed significant neck injuries following a motor vehicle accident in Boulder, Colorado. The plaintiff sued her insurer for UIM benefits, common law bad faith and statutory bad faith. Damages sought were in excess of $1,500,000. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the insurer on the common law and statutory claims and awarded the plaintiff compensation for her neck injury in an amount well below policy limits. Additionally, in post-trial briefing, the Court found that the insurer was the prevailing party on the common law and statutory bad faith allegations and as such, the insurer was awarded its costs for defense of the bad faith claims.

Trial: Quintana v. Huntoon, Boulder County Dist. Ct., November, 2013.

Personal injury lawsuit arising out of a 30 mph T-bone automobile accident. Plaintiff was a 14 year old girl at the time of the accident, claiming soft tissue neck and back injuries, fractured nose, deviated septum, diminished sense of smell and taste, and a permanent auditory processing disorder. Our client admitted fault for the accident, and admitted the accident caused the soft tissue injuries, but disputed the nature, extent and cause of the remaining injuries. Plaintiff demanded policy limits of $50,000 before trial. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $8,900.

Trial: Spendrup v. American Family Mutual Insurance Company, Federal Dist. Ct., May 2014

Wrongful death lawsuit and bad faith claims arising out of a T-bone automobile accident resulting in the death of the Plaintiff’s husband.  The decedent owned a niche business designing and producing manufacturing fans for mining activities locally and internationally.  Plaintiff claimed that as a result of her husband’s death, the business folded, resulting in a 7.3 million dollar loss.  Prior to trial, we filed a successful motion for summary judgment and the bad faith claims against our client were dismissed.  Thereafter, the Plaintiff demanded $3.7 million to settle.  The demand was rejected, and the parties proceeded to trial.  Following a five-day jury trial, Plaintiff requested the full $7.3 million dollars in closing.  While our client acknowledged the economic losses were approximately $1.5 million, we argued that the business losses claimed by the Plaintiff were excessive and unsupported by the evidence.  The jury returned a verdict awarding the Plaintiff a net recovery of $1.4 million.

Rebecca Wagner & Kirstin Dvorchak

Trial: Staidl v. McKinney, Mesa County District Court, March, 2017

Personal injury lawsuit filed by Jill Burke on behalf of her daughter, Cambree Staidl.  On the night of the accident, Ms. Staidl was traveling to the homecoming dance with the defendant, Dylan McKinney and his mother, Sandra.  After losing his way on country roads, Mr. McKinney rolled through a stop sign and was subsequently t-boned by a Ford F150, pulling a trailer carrying ATV’s.  Ms. Staidl sued Mr. McKinney and his mother, arguing that she sustained numerous injuries, including post-concussive headaches that greatly impaired her ongoing education, social activities, ability to work, and general quality of life.  Plaintiff asserted that her damages – for the duration of her life – totaled nearly eight million dollars.  The jury, however, awarded approximately $11,500, against the defendants representing the emergency room bills on the night of the accident.  Additionally, in post-trial briefing, it was determined that the defendants were the prevailing party and costs were awarded against the plaintiff.

Mike Frazier

Trial: Stone, et. al., v. Hi Country Haus Condo. Assn., Grand County Dist. Ct., June 2013

Plaintiffs were condominium owners in Winter Park, Colorado, who sought reimbursement of 10 years of dues from the Travelers Insured, Hi Country Haus Condo Association. The Plaintiffs alleged the Association did not have the authority to collect dues from 12 of the 20 building owners for various services, including a recreational facility. They alleged breaches of contract and fiduciary duty, negligence, and multiple violations of the Colorado Common Ownership Interest Act (CCOIA). The Plaintiffs sought monetary damages, an injunction, and reimbursement of over $300,000 in past dues to dozens of unit owners, and attorney fees and costs of approximately $100,000. After a seven day trial, our client received a defense verdict on all of the Plaintiffs’ claims, and the Association was awarded fees and costs as a prevailing party under (CCIOA).

Trial: Bruce Roff v. Scott Contracting, et al., Park County Dist. Ct., March 2014

Personal Injury Lawsuit arising out of trucking accident.   Mike Frazier tried this case with Mike Wathen of Ray Lego and Associates. The Plaintiff claimed the Travelers Insured was negligent, because it failed to re-install a steep grade warning sign at the top of Crow Hill, just east of Bailey, Colorado. The Plaintiff lost control of his semi-truck, and it rolled over and into a nearby creek. The Plaintiff claimed he injured his low back, which would require a fusion surgery. He claimed he suffered from debilitating peripheral neuropathy in both legs, and the accident caused him to suffer a massive pulmonary embolism. The Plaintiff’s last written settlement offer was a global demand of $600,000 to both defendants and asked for over $1M in closing. The jury returned a defense verdict, finding no negligence, causation, or damages.

Colorado Supreme Court: Legros v. Robinsons, May 2014. 

This a personal injury case that arises out a dog bite incident that occurred in June 2008. The Plaintiff’s file claims for negligence and strict liability pursuant to the Dog Bite Statute against Travelers’ Insured, the Robinsons. All of the Plaintiffs claims were dismissed in the District Court. The Appellate Court reversed the District Court’s opinion, in part. It affirmed the dismissal of the negligence claim and the Court’s Order denying the existence of a settlement, but the Appellate Court reversed District Court’s opinion regarding the application of the Dog Bite Statute. The Supreme Court held the Appellate Court had erred when construing and applying the Dog Bite Statute; however, it remanded the case back to District Court for further evaluation of the application of the Dog Bite Statute.

Trial: Eagle Valley and GCube Insurance v. Wellons, Inc.., U.S. Dist. Ct., Colorado, May, 2017

Mike Frazier defended Wellons, Inc., a designer and builder of power plants. Plaintiff Eagle Valley claimed that Wellons had defectively designed and constructed its power plant, alleging defects in the plant’s conveyor system, furnace, boiler, steam turbine generator, and water treatment system. Eagle Valley sought over 20 million dollars in damages at trial. Plaintiff GCube Insurance Services was the insurance carrier for Eagle Valley.  Following a fire that occurred at the Eagle Valley plant, GCube filed a subrogation claim against Wellons, Inc., seeking additional damages of 3.5 million dollars. After a two-week trial in federal court, the jury determined that Wellons, Inc. had not breached any contracts and it was not negligent in its design and construction of the Eagle Valley plant. The jury also determined that Eagle Valley and GCube Insurance were not entitled to recover any damages from Wellons, Inc.

Mike Frazier & Kirstin Dvorchak

Court of Appeals:  Raffa v. Fitz Apartments, et. al., January, 2016

Plaintiff filed suit against Defendants apartment owners and property managers, claiming they were responsible for the serious injuries Plaintiff suffered as the result of the fire started by an arsonist. The Plaintiff claimed the arsonist was a tenant of the apartments, whose rent was paid for by a public program that assisted low income residents that suffered from mental illness.  The Plaintiff claimed the Defendants were responsible, in whole or in part, for the acts of the alleged arsonist.  The Plaintiff’s last settlement demand was $1 million. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted by the Adams County District Court, which dismissed all of Plaintiff’s claims.  This Order was then affirmed by the Colorado Court of Appeals, and the Plaintiff’s Petition for Certiorari was denied by the Colorado Supreme Court in October 2017.