On July 27, 2023, the Colorado Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the full defense verdict obtained by Taylor|Anderson, LLP attorneys Kevin Taylor, Katherine Woodward, and John Osgood on behalf of a well-known women’s health care provider in a mass shooting case.

The shooter killed three people, including a uniformed police officer, and shot and seriously wounded 8 others. The case was brought by three survivors of the shooting and the family members of an individual tragically murdered by the shooter. Each pursued a singular claim under Colorado’s Premises Liability Act. The Plaintiffs claimed the provider failed to reasonably protect against a reasonably foreseeable attack by not implementing security measures on the premises, including full-time security guards, security fencing and security doors.

After six days of trial in which Kevin Taylor, Katherine Woodward, and John Osgood represented the provider, the jury rejected the Plaintiffs’ claims – unanimously determining that the shooter’s attack was NOT reasonably foreseeable, that the provider did NOT fail to exercise reasonable care, and perhaps most significantly that the murderous acts of the shooter himself had the predominant effect in bringing about the injuries sustained by the Plaintiffs, such that any actions or inactions of the provider could NOT be a cause of the Plaintiffs’ injuries. 

The Plaintiffs pursued an appeal before the Colorado Court of Appeals, arguing that the discovery and pre-trial orders of the trial court improperly restricted the Plaintiffs’ ability to prevent certain evidence related to whether the attack was foreseeable to the provider. Specifically, Plaintiffs pointed to prior appellate court rulings in the case, which reversed summary judgment granted to our client and remanded the case for trial, arguing that those rulings necessitated an expansion of the trial court’s limitation on the presentation of evidence regarding foreseeability of the shooter’s actions, and that the refusal of the trial court to revisit its prior restrictions on discovery and admissibility denied the Plaintiffs a fair jury trial.

The Court of Appeals fully rejected Plaintiffs’ arguments in a unanimous three-judge opinion authored by Judge JoAnn L. Vogt. Judge Vogt determined that the trial court properly exercised its discretion in refusing to revisit its prior discovery ruling, which had been the law of the case for over four years, noting that significant evidence of foreseeability – namely evidence of incidents at other care providers around the country – was admitted and considered by the jury that ultimately determined that the shooting was not reasonably foreseeable.

Significantly, the Court of Appeals went further, holding that even if the trial court erred in restricting evidence of foreseeability, the verdict was unassailable because upon consideration of all of the admitted evidence, including the testimony of security experts for both Plaintiffs and the provider, the jury unanimously determined that the provider’s conduct was not a cause of the Plaintiffs’ injuries. Specifically, the shooter’s actions “had such a predominant effect in bringing about the harm as to make [the provider’s] conduct insignificant.”

In a separate opinion, the same Panel fully affirmed the trial court’s total award of litigation costs – in excess of $300,000 through this appeal – to Taylor|Anderson, LLP’s clients.

The case demonstrates the integrity of the jury process. The jury in this case rendered a verdict unequivocally in favor of Taylor|Anderson, LLP’s client. But the fight did not end at trial, and our attorneys, Kevin Taylor, Katherine Woodward, and John Osgood, stood ready, willing, and able to uphold the verdict on appeal.

Taylor|Anderson, LLP is well-equipped to handle all aspects of premises liability defense, including litigation through trial of catastrophic mass shooting matters. This expertise extends to continuing to defend our clients after trial and on appeal before appellate courts around the country.