We have handled a variety of insurance defense actions. These include:
Plaintiff (Individual) v. Defendant (corporate cruise line operator), United States District Court, Colorado
In this case, plaintiff brought suit against the insured cruise line operator over an alleged sexual assault that took place on a Myanmar cruise by one of the ship’s crew members. The ship’s crew, however, consisted of independent contractors over whom the insured had no control. To further complicate matters, the ship’s owner was a foreign entity over which the district court presumptively had no personal jurisdiction.
Through an extended process of negotiations, we convinced the ship owner to take responsibility for the actions of its employee. We then proceeded to early mediation. Rather than incurring the expense of trial, we settled this case for a relatively nominal sum.
Plaintiff (Individual) v. Defendant (adventure travel operator), United States District Court, Colorado
In this case, plaintiff bought a bicycle adventure package from insured for a guided bicycle tour in Costa Rica. One evening, plaintiff rode back to her hotel, rode too fast around curve and severely injured herself. She then sued the insured for her personal injuries.
Plaintiff described the road in question in her complaint as a steeply winding road that was rated too difficult for the package that she had selected. Topographical data for the road where the injury occurred was not available.
We set out to hire a local land surveyor to complete a survey of the road in question and then Mr. Paris travelled to Costa Rica to conduct the deposition of the surveyor and a handful of fact witnesses. This gambit established that the plaintiff had wildly exaggerated the difficulty of the terrain, perhaps betting against us conducting an on-site investigation. The plaintiff offered to unconditionally dismiss the case shortly thereafter. Outcome: complete victory.
Plaintiff (bar patron) v. Defendant (nightclub), Denver District Court, Colorado
In this case, plaintiff was told to leave a night club for boisterous behavior. When he did not comply, the bouncer took hold of him and escorted him toward the rear exit of the club. The plaintiff resisted, assaulted the bouncer, and ultimately fell to the floor when the bouncer let go of him. The plaintiff suffered a traumatic brain injury that retarded his neurological processing speed. Since plaintiff was a physician’s assistant in a neurology practice who assisted the surgeon during complex surgeries, his injury was devastating to him and he demanded $4,000,000.00 in damages.
We set out to focus on the details of the altercation at the night club and asserted self-defense on behalf of the insured. After a week-long trial, the jury assessed $1,000,000.00 in damages, but found that plaintiff had been 75 percent at fault. Under Colorado’s modified comparative negligence scheme, however, the court reduced the plaintiff’s damages to zero and awarded costs to the insured. Outcome: complete victory.
Plaintiff (Individual) v. Defendant A, Defendant B, ABC Corporation, and John or Jane Does
District Court, Boulder County, Colorado
This case arose out of injuries sustained by the plaintiff in an automobile accident, which occurred in Egypt. Plaintiff brought claims against the defendants alleging breach of contract/breach of warranty, negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress and negligent misrepresentation. Our firm represented defendant A, the tour organizer, and defendant B, the vice president of defendant A.
The plaintiff was an employee of employer. Defendant A provided discounted tour services in Egypt to employer in exchange for a promotional credit in a video, which was being created by employer. Plaintiff was part of a group that received the tour services. Defendant A provided support services to the plaintiff when she arrived in Egypt. These services included a private tour for the plaintiff. During this tour, a collision occurred between the van in which the plaintiff was riding, which was driven by an employee of defendant A, and another vehicle. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the defendants breached their contract to provide reasonably safe travel arrangements, breached their duty to provide reasonably safe transportation, created an unreasonable risk of harm to the plaintiff, and negligently gave the plaintiff false information regarding reasonably safe travel conditions.
Defendants answered denying that they were negligent and denying that they had either implicitly or explicitly warranted anything to the plaintiff regarding the safety of travel arrangements and conditions.
Rather than incurring the expense of trial, the parties settled this case for a relatively nominal sum.
Plaintiff (Individual) v. Defendant A (Owner of Whitewater Rafting Company) and Defendant B (Guide) United States District Court, District of Colorado
This case involved a personal injury action brought by a participant on a whitewater rafting trip down the “Numbers” section of the Arkansas River in Colorado. The plaintiff alleged she was injured when she fell out of her raft as it hit a Class IV rapid. Just prior to entering the rapid, the guide on that particular raft was thrown from the raft. Plaintiff brought suit against both the owner of the rafting company and the guide of the raft in which the plaintiff was riding claiming that they were negligent and acted willfully and wantonly.
Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants were liable for willful and wanton conduct because they allegedly concealed from the plaintiff the fact that the risks that she would face on the rafting trip were greater than those usually encountered in whitewater rafting. She claimed that the defendants knew that the particular stretch of river run that day was extremely dangerous due to very high water and that only skilled and experienced rafters could safely maneuver the rapids.
Our firm represented both the owner of the rafting company and the guide. We filed a motion for summary judgment stating that the acceptance of responsibility and release agreement signed by the participant prior to the start of the rafting trip precluded the plaintiff’s claim based on ordinary negligence. We also argued that plaintiff’s claim for willful and wanton conduct was wholly unsupported by the record because the plaintiff could not produce any evidence that the defendants knew that the risks posed by rafting that particular stretch of river were greater than usual for the sport of whitewater river rafting, let alone any evidence that the risks were, in fact, greater. Our motion for summary judgment was granted and all claims against the defendants were dismissed.
Plaintiff (Individual) v. Defendant A, Inc., a Colorado corporation, Defendant B, Inc., a Colorado corporation, District Court, El Paso County, Colorado
In this case, the plaintiff brought a personal injury action against the defendants seeking money damages for injuries she received as the result of a tobogganing accident. The plaintiff asserted numerous claims in her complaint against the defendants alleging negligent conduct. Our firm represented defendant B, a private recreational business.
The plaintiff was given a participant release to read and sign prior to the toboggan race. On the plaintiff’s first trip down the hill, the toboggan upon which she was riding veered to the right and overturned. The plaintiff claimed she was injured and required medical treatment as a result of the accident.
The defendants answered claiming that the release signed by the plaintiff revealed that the risk of the specific injury sustained by the plaintiff was understood by her and fully disclosed, that the release was written in clear and simple terms free from legal jargon, and that the intent to relieve the defendants from liability was clear from any fair reading of the release.
A tactical decision was made to settle the case for a relatively nominal amount rather than risk incurring significant fees and costs associated with proceeding to trial.
Plaintiffs (Individuals) v. Defendant A, Inc., a Colorado corporation and Defendants B – F.
Denver District Court, Denver, Colorado
This case involves multiple plaintiffs who purchased a train excursion from their cruise line while vacationing in Panama. There was a severe train accident and plaintiffs are seeking recovery from all persons involved with their cruise vacation. The firm represents the travel agency that booked plaintiffs on the cruise. To date, the firm has answered the complaint and successfully designated the cruise line as a non-party at fault. Discovery and settlement negotiations continue.
NOTE: The names of the parties to the above-described cases have been omitted in order to preserve client confidentiality.
Plaintiff (the rafting client) v. Defendant A (owner of the guide company) and Defendant B (the guide)
We handled a case in federal court involving a personal injury action brought by the rafting client, who participated in a whitewater rafting trip down the Arkansas River in Colorado. The rafting client alleged she was injured when she fell out of her raft as it hit a class IV rapid. Just prior to entering the rapid, the guide on that particular raft was thrown from the raft. The rafting client brought suit against both the owner of the guide company and the guide, claiming that they were negligent and acted willfully and wantonly.
Specifically, the rafting client alleged that the owner of the guide company and the guide were liable for willful and wanton conduct because they allegedly concealed from the rafting client the fact that the risks that she would face on the rafting trip were greater than those usually encountered in whitewater rafting. She claimed that the owner and the guide knew that the particular stretch of river run that day was extremely dangerous due to very high water and that only skilled and experienced rafters could safely maneuver the rapids. The rafting client was not an experienced rafter.
Our firm was retained by the insurance carrier to represent both the owner of the rafting company and the guide. We filed a motion for summary judgment, stating that the acceptance of responsibility and release agreement signed by the participant prior to the start of the rafting trip precluded the claims of the rafting client based on ordinary negligence. We also argued that the rafting client’s claim for willful and wanton conduct was wholly unsupported by the record because the rafting client could not produce any evidence that the owner or the guide knew that the risks posed by rafting that particular stretch of river were greater than usual for the sport of whitewater river rafting, let alone any evidence that the risks were, in fact, greater. Our motion for summary judgment was granted, and all claims against the owner and the guide were dismissed. The case was appealed to the 10th Circuit of the Federal District Court, which affirmed the dismissal in a written opinion.
Builder Vs. Fire Suppression Contractor
Plaintiff (builder) v. Defendant A (the fire suppression subcontractor) and Defendant B (the insulation subcontractor)
District Court, Arapahoe County, Colorado
In this insurance defense case, the insurer hired our firm to represent the fire suppression subcontractor, a company in the business of installing fire suppression systems. The case arose out of several incidents wherein the pipes in the sprinkler suppression system in a town home complex froze and leaked, causing flooding and damage to several units. The builder sought indemnification of the damages from both the fire suppression subcontractor and the insulation subcontractor responsible for installing the insulation.
We conducted an extensive investigation into the building plans and permits filed with the county. As a result, we discovered that in the course of construction, the builder had altered the plans by adding open air vents in the roof of the town home complex without subsequently adjusting the plans for the fire suppression system and the insulation. Using this information, we were able to reach a settlement for an amount substantially below the amount of the claims just prior to the initiation of binding arbitration.
Dispute Involving Contractors And National Grocery Store Chain
Plaintiff (a national grocery chain) v. Defendant A (the general contractor), Defendant B (an individual) and Defendant C (an individual)
United States District Court, District of Colorado
A national grocery chain brought suit against our clients, a general contractor and two of the contractor’s officers, claiming the officers were personally liable. The contractor maintained a directors’ and officers’ liability policy with an insurance carrier that retained our firm to represent the individual officers. The contractor’s business fell apart as a result of unforeseen troubles with an unrelated project, thereby making completion of the projects for the grocery chain impossible. The grocery chain asserted claims for breach of trust, civil theft, conversion and negligence against all of our clients.
The grocery chain accused the contractor and its officers of misappropriating project funds in an attempt to redeem the project that ultimately destroyed the business of the contractor. The contractor admitted that it was forced to close its operations before completion of the projects, but that it had accomplished partial performance on those projects for which the contractor was entitled to partial payment. The builder further demonstrated that it had provided an accounting to the company, which the company ignored when it paid some subcontractors and suppliers in full, while refusing payment to others. After substantial discovery and negotiations, the case was settled for a sum significantly less than was claimed.
NOTE: The names of the parties to the above-described cases have been omitted in order to preserve client confidentiality.