Articles Posted in Colorado

In the first of what may be many more to come, the widow of a man killed in the Aurora, Colorado theatre shootings has filed suit against the University of Colorado Denver, James Holmes’ psychiatrist, and five other defendants.

It has been alleged that one month before the horrific incident, Holmes told the director of Student Mental Health Services on campus that he “fantasized about killing a lot of people.” When asked by campus police if they should apprehend Holmes and place him on a psychiatric hold, the psychiatrist rejected the idea.

The lawsuit claims that the shooting would not have occurred had the doctor ordered the psychiatric hold. She is being sued for failing to act rather than for taking an action that results in harm.

Last week, a federal judge in Colorado found that a biomechanics expert’s opinion could go to a jury in a lawsuit alleging that a properly built snowboarding helmet would have minimized or prevented a plaintiff’s severe brain damage suffered in a snowboarding accident.

In the accident, plaintiff’s helmet broke, causing permanent brain injuries. Plaintiff alleged that the snowboarding helmet was improperly designed. Defendant alleged that plaintiffs’ expert could not withstand a Rule 702 challenge because his reliance on the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment was improper due to lack of scientific rigor in the organization’s testing. But most of the defendant’s arguments were, as is typical in these challenges, more appropriate for cross-examination than a basis to exclude the expert under the Federal Rules of Evidence. “Why didn’t you consider this standard?” and “Why did you use this test?” might be fair questions, but they do not, according to this court, render the expert’s testimony unreliable.

You can read the full opinion here.

What do you call 1,000 lawyers at the bottom of the sea – A good start. I’ve heard them all. Lawyers often get bad raps due to frivolous law suits that have been filed. Sadly, many of these suits have merit, but the facts get so distorted by groups attacking personal injury lawyers, that the public doesn’t have the opportunity to learn the actual facts of the case, and in turn, they don’t realize that the Plaintiff has a legitimate claim.

On the other hand, there are ridiculous suits that are filed pro se, in which the public automatically assumes that suit was filed by an attorney. The latest story making headlines, which has people calling for the disbarment of a lawyer, one that doesn’t exist, takes place in Kansas. The suit is being brought pro se, by a convicted criminal serving an 11-year sentence.

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The average jury verdict in car, truck and motorcycle accident cases in Colorado is $207,687 according to a recent Jury Verdict Research study. This report also found that only 50% of vehicle accident cases in Colorado lead to plaintiff verdicts and the median verdict when the plaintiff does prevail is $44,050.

Not surprisingly, half of the vehicle accident cases in the study were either rear-end car crashes or intersection collisions.

In a completely unrelated story, there was a $15 million verdict in favor of a truck driver in a slip and fall lawsuit against Wal-Mart in Colorado earlier this month.

The TortsProf Blog reports that state legislatures in Colorado and Oregon are considering increases to their caps on noneconomic damages. Colorado is currently debating a bill that would raise the cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases from a measly $300,000 to a less measly, but still ridiculously low, $450,000. The bill was voted out of committee on Monday and will now be sent to the Senate floor for debate. The details are here.
Oregon is wrestling with a last year’s Oregon Supreme Court ruling that caps on damages payable by the state was unconstitutional as applied. The task force has been set up in Oregon to study the issue of raising the cap on noneconomic damages.

In the history of caps on noneconomic damages, the door has swung only one way – toward adding caps or decreasing the amount of the cap. Hopefully, this news for the clients of personal injury lawyers, that the door will begin to swing in the other direction.