With more than three decades devoted to the legal profession, Ms. Schluter concentrates in civil defense representation in the areas of general liability, motor vehicle and transportation, civil rights, employment, premises liability, public entity defense, and professional liability for ambulance providers and nursing homes. Her early career emphasized the defense of law enforcement, emergency vehicles, and employers in litigated insured workers' compensation matters. Over the course of thirty years in practice, Ms. Schluter has handled hundreds of cases in Colorado federal and state courts.
Ms. Schluter names as most rewarding the ability to conclude cases for clients successfully, whether by amicable settlement, or by trial, so that clients can return to their personal, professional, and business pursuits unburdened by the claims that required legal representation. While the vast majority of claims are resolved without needing defense counsel, and many more are settled short of trial, when trials are needed because of false accusations or grossly exaggerated claims, Ms. Schluter brings depth, substance, and tenacity to the work of trying a case.
Ms. Schluter obtained her law degree from the University of Denver College of Law in 1982, after graduating Phi Beta Kappa with honors from Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 1979. She is privileged to hold an AV® Preeminent™ rating in Martindale.com. Ms. Schluter’s community service includes over 14 years on Greenwood Village City Council, Planning & Zoning, and Board of Adjustments & Appeals.
Hinkle v. Premier Services Ambulance, 2006 WL 950255 (Colo. App. 2006) (nsop)
Arndt v. Koby, 309 F.3d 1247 (10th Cir. 2002), cert. denied 123 S.Ct. 1936 (U.S. 2003)
Lykins v. Laidlaw, Case No. 01 CA 1633 (Colo. App. Nov. 7, 2002) (nsop)
Rose v. City & County of Denver, 990 P.2d 1120 (Colo. App. 1999), cert. denied, 1999)
Smith v. Belle Bonfils Memorial Blood Center, 976 P.2d 344 (Colo. App. 1998), cert. denied, 1999
Jordan v. City of Aurora, 876 P.2d 38 (Colo. App. 1993)
Easton v. City of Boulder, 776 F.2d 1441 (10th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 107 S.Ct. 71 (U.S. 1986)
Myres v. Rask, 602 F. Supp. 210 (D. Colo. 1985)
Jury trial – personal injury – ambulance. Member of hospital critical care transport team sued ambulance company alleging negligent driving and negligent maintenance. She claimed that she suffered injury when the ambulance went over a dip in the road, and that the injury was so extensive that she could never work again. Witnesses varied as to what had happened. We used objective data to establish careful driving and proper maintenance. We used a thorough understanding of plaintiff’s extensive medical history (including two prior lumbar spine surgeries, morbid obesity, and a gastric bypass) to show the jury that whatever happened on the trip in the ambulance was not the cause of any disability. Worker’s compensation insurer intervened as plaintiff. The two plaintiffs requested damages in excess of $1.6 million. The jury rejected the negligence claims, and returned its verdict in favor of the ambulance provider. Costs awarded to ambulance provider. El Paso County District Court
Jury trial – Civil rights – Sheriff and deputies. Passenger who had “two beers” while awaiting wife’s return from church Sunday morning before starting trip launched verbal interference with deputy’s traffic stop of wife for exceeding speed limit on winding mountain road. Passenger’s refusal to cease interfering led to his arrest for interference, with additional charges of open container and resisting, the latter based on passenger’s refusal to comply with deputy’s directions and then pulling away when deputy took one of his arms. Deputy and off-duty lieutenant who came to deputy’s aid were able to effect the cuffing using minimal force, but passenger later claimed that he had been beaten by officers, causing fractures in his neck, both wrists, an AC joint separation, and facial injuries. Records established that the radiographic defects initially termed “fractures” and a “separation” were actually pre-existing and old. Photos of passenger refuted his contention of facial injuries. Passenger nonetheless filed suit claiming against deputy, off-duty lieutenant, and sheriff for alleged civil rights violations in the nature of false arrest, excessive force, free speech, and hiring, training, and supervision allegedly causing the violations. Pretrial, the court granted our defense motion to preclude plaintiff's liability "expert" under Daubert v. Merrell Dow. Plaintiff withdrew his medical experts one month before trial. He claimed that the decision to withdraw medical experts was based on their cost, but medical discovery established a lack of truthfulness in plaintiff's attempt to blame pre-existing conditions on officers. Directed verdict for sheriff. Jury verdict for deputy and lieutenant. Costs awarded. U.S. District Court, District of Colorado.
Jury trial – premises liability – healthcare facility. Jury returned rapid verdict in favor of client healthcare facility, and against the plaintiff, a patient who was arriving for an appointment. On a cold December morning, the patient pulled in next to a dark area that she thought looked wet, but turned out to be icy. The source of the ice was not known. There was no snow on the ground. The ice had formed between parking spots and had not been seen by employees as they arrived for work. The patient suffered an open ankle fracture and underwent two surgeries, but the speed of the jury’s verdict resoundingly rebuffed the tactics of plaintiff’s PI advertising law firm – tactics that included pushing the case based on false evidence, refusing to provide information about the plaintiff’s Medicare and Medicaid coverage, withholding records, and a lack of forthright handling in terms of the witnesses who were being subpoenaed and called to testify at trial. We established the reasonableness of our healthcare client’s parking lot maintenance, exposed some of the underhanded tactics employed by other side of case, and used cross-examination of orthopedic surgeons to reveal medical record entries that refuted plaintiff’s contentions of ongoing pain and disability. Jury verdict for defendants. Jefferson County.
Jury trial – personal injury – motor vehicle. Pickup truck driver and girlfriend claimed van driver ran a red light. Plaintiffs’ pickup t-boned the van in the intersection. At the scene, the couple denied injury and denied any need for ambulance transport. Three years after the accident, personal injury advertiser law firm filed a 555-paragraph, 68-page complaint. At trial two years later, plaintiffs claimed five years of past chiropractic treatment and that shoulder surgeries for arthritic conditions were MVA-caused. Plaintiffs called their orthopedic surgeons, family physicians, and chiropractor to testify as experts. Defendants offered expert testimony from a traffic accident reconstruction engineer. Jury verdict for defendants. Denver.
Jury trial - personal injury – RTD bus. Plaintiff was a passenger on an RTD bus when bus scraped a parked vehicle while trying to pull over to pick-up a passenger. Plaintiff alleged that she struck multiple body parts on interior components of the bus as the bus came to a stop. She claimed multiple injuries and called several doctors to testify as experts. Defendants admitted that the driver was negligent in connection with the contact between the bus and parked truck, but denied that the accident caused injury to plaintiff. Special issues involved plaintiff’s credibility, past records, and accident reconstruction. Jury verdict for defendants. Plaintiff not injured. Plaintiff’s counsel ordered to pay attorney’s fees for discovery violations. Denver.
Jury trial - personal injury – chartered bus. Plaintiff was a part-time casino trip director who was exiting from bus he chartered when driver prematurely retracted the bottom bus step. Plaintiff’s foot was momentarily caught. The only known injury at the time was a superficial scratch, but at trial, plaintiff claimed sacroiliac joint instability and permanent inability to continue working as a window salesman. Driver and bus company admitted driver was negligent, but contested nature and extent of injuries and damages being claimed. Plaintiff’s last demand was $225,000. Plaintiff requested $700,000 to $1 million in closing argument. Jury award: $5000, reduced by charitable set-off, resulting in net to plaintiff of $2500, which was then offset by $30,000 in costs awarded to defendants. Judgment for defendants in the amount of $25,600, plus interest at the 8% per annum. Colorado Springs.
Jury trial - employment – civil rights. Former deputy sued sheriff and under sheriff alleging state law and federal civil rights violations. Defense obtained early dismissal of plaintiff’s state law claims and summary judgment on plaintiff’s claim for violation of substantive due process. Judge denied plaintiff’s request to add claim for punitive damages. The case went to trial on whether plaintiff’s employment was a protected property interest or “at-will,” and whether defendants violated plaintiff’s liberty interest. Evidence at trial addressed issues of employee’s truthfulness and which set of personnel policies applied -- one that was contained in an old handbook adopted by a prior sheriff or a more recent set in a county-wide manual in which the current sheriff joined with other elected officials. Judge granted defense motion for directed verdict on plaintiff’s liberty interest claim at the conclusion of plaintiff’s case-in-chief. Judge submitted case to jury for decision on which manual applied, and thus whether plaintiff’s employment was at-will or a protected property interest. Jury verdict for the defendants. Costs awarded to defendants. U.S. District Court, District of Colorado.
Jury trial – motor vehicle - wrongful death. Motorist unknowingly ran over man who had fallen in roadway while jay-walking at the beginning of nautical twilight while wearing dark clothing. Toxicology in conjunction with autopsy determined decedent’s BAC was .237. Adult children alleged motorist was speeding and failed to keep proper lookout. They sought respondeat superior recovery against motorist’s employer. Accident re-construction experts testified for plaintiffs and defendants, focusing on perception/reaction time and lighting/visibility conditions. Jury verdict for defendants, costs awarded. Denver.
Jury trial – professional liability – brain damage. Plaintiffs alleged that paramedic misplaced endotracheal tube or failed to detect migration into esophagus of 16-year old driver who suffered skull fractures in roll-over accident during which she was ejected from vehicle. Plaintiffs sought over $5 million on theory that brain damage from medical negligence was inseparable from brain damages caused by skull fractures. Jury verdict in favor of ambulance provider. Grand Junction, Mesa County.
Jury trial – public transit – lower extremity fractures and acceleration of MS. Plaintiff alleged that bus company was negligent in scooter passenger’s falling from rear exit while driver was raising the wheelchair lift. Plaintiff suffered lower extremity fractures and alleged acceleration of multiple sclerosis. Life care plan of $1.6 - $3 million. Court directed verdict in favor of bus company on punitive damages claim. Jury found bus company not negligent. In post-trial proceedings, court awarded bus company all costs bus company sought after making $100 statutory settlement offer. Colorado Springs, El Paso County.
Jury trial – elevator maintenance – hip fracture. Plaintiff fell out of elevator that stopped above floor level. He was at work and suffered hip fracture. He claimed an inability to return to work in his occupation as an aircraft mechanic. Plaintiff accused elevator maintenance company of negligence. Worker’s compensation insurer joined as plaintiff seeking recovery of worker’s compensation benefits. Jury verdict for defendant. Elevator maintenance company was not negligent. Costs awarded to elevator company. Denver.
Jury trial – law enforcement - false arrest/false imprisonment. Plaintiff alleged false arrest, false imprisonment, outrageous conduct and negligence against police arising out of incident at her home. Judge granted partial summary judgment before trial. After plaintiff’s case at trial, judge directed verdict for defendants on remaining claims. Denver.
Jury trial – premises liability - gas station. Plaintiff wife slipped and fell in slippery substance at gas station. She claimed permanent impairment of her dominant upper extremity. Plaintiff husband alleged loss of consortium. Jury verdict in favor of gas station. Denver.
Jury trial – premises liability – ankle injury. Woman alleged ankle injury and surgery from fall caused by pot hole in parking lot. Jury verdict in favor of restaurant. Denver.
Jury trial – restaurant owner liability - assault and battery. Plaintiff alleged assault and battery by restaurant manager. Directed verdict in favor of restaurant at conclusion of plaintiff’s case-in-chief. Denver.
Court trial – premises liability – RSD. Slip and fall on ice at restaurant. Woman alleged upper extremity injury and RSD. Bench verdict in favor of restaurant. Golden, Jefferson County.
U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court - Former police detective brought claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that police chiefs and city violated her rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and that their actions constituted false light invasion of privacy and violations of the state constitution. Defense won dismissals of the state law claims and directed verdict on federal civil rights claims at the close of plaintiff’s case-in-chief. Tenth Circuit affirmed judgment in favor of chiefs and U.S. Supreme Court denied plaintiff’s petition for writ of certiorari.
U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals - Plaintiff claimed that municipality and police chief were liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for police officer who allegedly raped her while on duty, on theory that department had an official policy or de facto custom of failing to adequately prohibit and discipline on-the-job sexual misconduct. Federal trial court granted summary judgment in favor of municipality and chief and plaintiff appealed. Tenth Circuit affirmed judgment in favor municipality and chief.
Colorado Court of Appeals and Colorado Supreme Court - Plaintiff claimed error in trial court’s rulings and appealed judgment in favor of ambulance provider in professional liability case. Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed judgment in favor of ambulance provider. Colorado Supreme Court denied plaintiff’s petition for writ of certiorari.
Colorado Court of Appeals and Colorado Supreme Court – Plaintiff claimed error in trial court’s entry of partial summary judgment and directed verdict in case where plaintiff alleged false arrest, false imprisonment, negligence and outrageous conduct against city and officers who responded to disturbance call at woman’s house. Judgment for defense affirmed. Petition for writ of certiorari denied.
Colorado Court of Appeals and Colorado Supreme Court – Plaintiff appealed trial court’s order disqualifying plaintiff’s expert and granting summary judgment in favor of blood bank for plaintiff’s inability to prove prima facie case without expert. Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed judgment in favor of blood bank. Colorado Supreme Court denied plaintiff’s petition for writ of certiorari.
District Court, City & County of Denver – Insurance – “Bad Faith” - Trial court granted summary judgment in favor of insurer in case alleging bad faith delay and denial of PIP benefits on mother’s claim that son was injured in accident on bus. Trial court awarded fees and costs against plaintiff and plaintiff’s counsel for discovery abuse and motions abuse.
U.S. District Court, District of Colorado – Civil Rights – Employment. Summary judgment in favor of county commissioners in employment case wherein plaintiff claimed his termination violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Title VII, the ADA and ADEA. Costs awarded to county.
U.S. District Court, District of Colorado – Civil Rights – Public Benefits – Eleventh Amendment. Summary judgment in favor of county commissioners and Department of Social Services personnel for alleged violation of Medicaid recipient’s Fourteenth Amendment due process rights in determining that his resources exceeded eligibility and terminating benefits. Costs awarded to county and county personnel.
U.S. District Court, District of Colorado – Civil Rights – Sheriff’s Liability - Emergency Commitment Act. Summary judgment in favor of county and sheriff in federal civil rights lawsuit brought by numerous plaintiffs under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging unreasonable seizures and conspiracy in law enforcement’s actions under Colorado Emergency Commitment Act.
U.S. District Court, District of Colorado – Civil Rights – Employment. Summary judgment and cost award in favor of board of county commissioners and county attorney where fired department head alleged violations of her federal civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and various theories of state law.
U.S. District Court, District of Colorado – Civil Rights – Employment. Summary judgment granted in favor of elected county official on claims on sexual harassment and hostile work environment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
U.S. District Court, District of Colorado – Civil Rights - Age Discrimination. Trial court granted motion to dismiss Age Discrimination in Employment Act and other employment claims against town and supervisor.
District Court, Park County – Professional Liability – Premises Liability - Governmental and Public Employee Immunity. Plaintiffs alleged that needle stick which occurred when child gained access to sharps container exposed child to HIV. Motion to dismiss filed and evidentiary hearing held. Trial court held that immunity applied, and granted motion to dismiss in favor of county and public employee.
District Court, Fremont County – Wrongful Death – Storm Water. Plaintiffs’ sons were last seen alive using old refrigerator doors as rafts in storm water runoff in ditch on private land. Death occurred when they fell in rising storm water drainage and were pulled through a culvert, also on private land. Parents brought wrongful death claims against city alleging that city was negligent in the operation and maintenance of a public water or sanitation facility. Motion to dismiss filed on behalf of city on grounds of immunity. Trial court held evidentiary hearing to determine disputed facts. Motion to dismiss granted, finding that governmental immunity applied.
U.S. District Court, District of Colorado – Civil Rights – Search & Seizure. Summary judgment in favor of city and officers in 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lawsuit alleging unreasonable search and seizure.
U.S. District Court, District of Colorado – Civil Rights - Jail Conditions. Summary judgment for sheriff in jail conditions case.