CIVIL LITIGATION AND TRIALS
When a client brings a matter to Schuetze & Gordon, there is a natural progression of efforts toward resolution. First, an assessment is made as to whether the matter can be settled without litigation. That happens sometimes, and the firm is positioned to influence the terms of settlement precisely because its lawyers have been successful in litigation if a settlement cannot be brokered.
If an outright settlement cannot be reached, the case is filed and litigation is commenced. “Litigation” is roughly defined as the legal process leading up to trial and involves formal exchange of information (“discovery”) and motions practice; which is the highly formalized ritual of strategic, paper warfare.
A case can and frequently does settle at some point during a litigation. Stated another way, the commencing of a lawsuit does not preclude settlement. However, once all the discovery has been completed and all the motions filed, if the parties still cannot come to a negotiated resolution, the next step is trial.
The firm has successfully handled cases in State and Federal Courts in the following areas:
- SERIOUS PERSONAL INJURY
- WRONGFUL DEATH
- RAILROAD GRADE CROSSING COLLISIONS
- BUSINESS TORTS
- SKI AREA NEGLIGENCE
- PRODUCT LIABILITY
- INSURANCE DISPUTES
- PROFESSIONAL MALPRACTICE
- UNINSURED MOTORISTS
- INSURANCE BAD FAITH
ARBITRATION, MEDIATION AND NEGOTIATION
In virtually every case there are several points where the parties attempt to resolve the dispute without having to go to trial. Very often the Court actually orders the parties to participate in Alternate Dispute Resolution or “ADR.”
ADR is generally achieved either through negotiation, mediation or arbitration. The negotiation of legal claims is more art than science and effective negotiation is largely a function of doing it often and having the historical success in trial so that the negotiation is from a position of strength.
Mediation is formal negotiation done through a neutral third party (usually a retired judge). Though mediation is non-binding, it can, like the negotiation process, be “won” by experienced or “lost” by inexperienced counsel. Schuetze & Gordon has participated in hundreds of mediations and is very comfortable in that format.
Arbitration is similar to trial in the sense that a binding result is handed down at the conclusion of the arbitration. The difference is that instead of a jury returning a verdict, the arbitrator or arbitration panel renders the decision. Arbitrators are practicing attorneys or retired judges. Both Bob Schuetze and Glen Gordon themselves have served as arbitrators and are thoroughly familiar with the arbitration process.
EXAMPLES OF FIRM ACHIEVEMENTS
Bob Schuetze was one of two plaintiffs’ counsel in a case involving a train crossing collision in which a Boulder jury returned a combined verdict of twenty-three (23) million dollars. This remains the largest personal injury verdict in Colorado history. Since then, he maintains an active railroad crossing litigation practice in Colorado and is frequently retained by counsel in other states, including California, Utah, North Dakota and New Mexico to assist on railroad matters.
Bob and Glen have developed an expertise in the area of ski lift accidents and ski area liability, having represented numerous clients in state and federal court against Colorado’s prominent ski area industry including Vail, Aspen, Copper Mountain, Wolf Creek, Crested Butte and POMA corporation.
Recently Bob and Glen were counsel for plaintiff in Bayer v. Crested Butte, a case that was litigated successfully to the Colorado Supreme Court and established the legal rule that ski area operators owe to their patrons the “highest degree of care” in connections with ski lift operation. You can see this case at Bayer v. Crested Butte, 960 P.2d 70 (Colo. 1998).
While serving as President of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association in 2000, Bob represented a Columbine High School student and her family in connection with injuries received by the student in the Columbine tragedy.
Glen Gordon is Colorado counsel in an Americans With Disabilities Act class action brought by disabled Coloradans against the State of Colorado arising from the State’s charging a fee for disabled persons to obtain disabled parking placards. The case is expected to go to the United States Supreme Court.
Bob and Glen have been involved in numerous cases that have resulted in verdicts or settlements in excess of a million dollars. They have also conducted jury trials where the verdict was more than ten times the amount offered by the insurance company.
Bob and Glen represented a prominent Denver artist in a Denver District Court trial against the Coca-Cola Corporation. The settlement offer in that case was less than $100,000 yet, after a week long trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff nearly $500,000.
In 1998 Glen represented a young Boulder attorney who had been involved in an automobile accident early in his professional career. Prior to trial, State Farm offered $15,000 to settle. The case was tried to a Boulder jury and the client was awarded approximately $450,000.
In 2002 Glen and Bob represented a Boulder man in an arbitration against Hartford Insurance Company. The arbitration resulted in an award of 1.3 million dollars.
The partners, individually and together, have handled literally hundreds of personal injury claims and have tried numerous cases to juries and arbitration panels, ranging from basic automobile accidents to complex railroad grade crossing collisions, and brain injury and paraplegia claims.
The firm has represented clients in litigation, trials, mediations, arbitrations and appeals, in the state and federal courts in the following areas: