KAREN HANNAH WHEELER, ESQ.
Ms. Wheeler is an experienced litigator who has litigated a multitude of complex and highly technical cases and has maintained an exceptional trial record. Ms. Wheeler obtained a defense verdict for her client after a fourteen-week class action trial involving claims in excess of $380,000,000.00. Her wide range of experience includes lead counsel in dozens of successful jury trials, many arbitrations and appellate arguments in varied legal areas. Her appellate practice has resulted in numerous published Court of Appeals and Supreme Court opinions. Ms. Wheeler is AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell since 1998.
Ms. Wheeler has practiced civil defense litigation since 1987. Ms. Wheeler’s trial work has included commercial litigation, professional negligence, personal injury, construction law, products liability, environmental law, toxic torts, employment law, civil rights litigation, insurance coverage, bad faith litigation and general tort law. She has also served as an arbitrator in numerous personal injury and contract arbitrations and has presented various educational seminars in many areas of the law, including how to litigate class action lawsuits in Colorado. Ms. Wheeler is also active in Estate Planning.
Ms. Wheeler is a leader within the legal community as well as in her personal life. Ms. Wheeler is a Past President of the Colorado Defense Lawyers Association and has served over a decade on the CDLA’s board of directors. She has twice been elected to serve as the Colorado State representative for the national Defense Research Institute. Ms. Wheeler is an Associate level member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Ms. Wheeler is a graduate of the Colorado Bar Association Leadership Training program and chaired the CBA/DBA Joint Judicial Task Force for several years. In 2004, Ms. Wheeler received the State Leadership Award from the Defense Research Institute. In 2006, she became a Fellow for the Colorado Bar Foundation. In 2008, Ms. Wheeler was honored as the Denver Bar Association Volunteer Lawyer of the Year. Ms. Wheeler was recognized by her peers as a Colorado SuperLawyer for 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2018 and 2019. She also received an Exceptional Performance Citation award from the Defense Research Institute for “having supported and improved the standards of education of the defense bar and for having contributed to the improvement of the administration of justice in the public interest.” She received a second DRI State Leadership award in 2018. Ms. Wheeler is a fellow of the Colorado Bar Foundation, and is a current member of the Denver, Colorado, Arapahoe and American Bar Associations.
Ms. Wheeler was admitted to the bar in 1987 and is licensed to practice in all of the Colorado Courts, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals. Ms. Wheeler obtained her Juris Doctor degree in 1987 from the University of Nebraska following receipt of her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1984 from Colorado State University.
Ms. Wheeler continues to maintain active involvement in many philanthropic organizations in Colorado. She co-chaired an event in Denver which raised over $250,000 for Girls Inc. of Metro Denver. She is a former director on the Board of Directors and is a past President of Girls Inc., Alliance. Ms. Wheeler has been dedicated to serving the legal community, as well as a lifelong dedication to serving philanthropic causes. Ms. Wheeler is a dedicated mother of three young men and devoted to her friends and family.
• Juris Doctor – University of Nebraska, 1987
• Bachelor of Arts, Colorado State University, 1984
• Admitted – Colorado 1987
• Admitted – United States District Court for the District of Colorado
• Admitted – United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
• Member – Colorado Defense Lawyers Association
• Member – American Bar Association
• Member – Colorado Bar Association
• Member – Denver Bar Association
• Member – Arapahoe Bar Association
Honors and Awards
• AV Preeminent Rating – Martindale Hubbell
• Past President – Colorado Defense Lawyers Association
• Recipient of the State Leadership Award for the Defense Research Institute
• Named the Denver Bar Association Volunteer Lawyer of the Year
• Repeatedly selected as one of the Top Attorneys in Colorado for inclusion in 5280 Magazine’s Super Lawyers• Received an Exceptional Performance Citation award from Defense Research Institute
• Featured as a Top Rated Lawyer in the National Law Review, The American Lawyer, and Corporate Counsel magazine.
Linda Weiner, Robert Michael Weiner, Fred Block, and Carolyn Block, v. Windsong Ranch Homeowners Association, Inc., a Colorado non-profit corporation; and Windsong Ranch Homeowners Association, Inc., Architectural, Control Committee, 2011 WL 882249 (Colo. App. 2011).
Hansen v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., Slip Copy, 2010 WL 749820, (D.Colo. 2010).
Watson v. Dillon Companies, Slip Copy, 2009 WL 3271166, (D.Colo. 2009).
Novak v. Craven, 195 P.3d 1115, (Colo.App. 2008).
Martin v. Union Pacific R. Co., 186 P.3d 61, (Colo.App. 2007).
Vigil v. Franklin, 103 P.3d 322 (Colo. 2004).
Vigil v. Franklin, 81 P.3d 1084 (Colo.App. 2003).
D.C. Concrete Management, Inc. v. Mid-Century Ins. Co., 39 P.3d 1205 (Colo.App. 2001).
Hyden v. Farmers Ins. Exchange, 20 P.3d 1222 (Colo.App. 2000).
Cruz v. Farmers Ins. Exchange, 12 P.3d 307 (Colo.App. 2000).
Carlisle v. Farmers Ins. Exchange, 946 P.2d 555 (Colo.App. 1997).
Adolph Coors Co. v. American Ins. Co., 1993 WL 13029757 (D.Colo. 1993).
State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Nissen, 851 P.2d 165 (Colo. 1993).
State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Nissen, 835 P.2d 537 (Colo.App. 1992).
Sample of Success
Zinter v. Robinson, Civil Action 17CV30446, Boulder District Court. Ms. Zinter’s lawsuit arose from a non-commercial whitewater rafting accident in Dinosaur National Monument that resulted in the death of Plaintiff’s adult son. Mr. Zinter and others were rafting down the Green River when their raft flipped over near Triplet Falls. Mr. Zinter drowned when he was unable to swim to shore. Defendant held the group’s special use permit for the private whitewater rafting trip.
Ms. Wheeler argued that Mr. Zinter’s mother failed to show that she had standing to maintain a wrongful death claim. In addition, she argued that the defendant owed no legal duty and that there was no allegation of negligence. The Court agreed that Ms. Zinter failed to show proper standing. The Court also agreed that a special use permit does not confer a duty to assume responsibility for the safety and well-being of decedent. Moreover, the Court found that Ms. Zinter failed to allege any negligent conduct that led to Mr. Zinter’s death. As a result, the Court dismissed the case.
Manchester Place HOA, Inc. v. Owners Insurance Company, Civil Action 1:14-cv-03226-REB-KLM, United States District Court, District of Colorado. Karen Wheeler obtained a defense verdict at trial in this breach of contract and insurance bad faith case. Manchester Place HOA sought more than $2 million in damages, penalties, costs and attorney fees as a result of Owners Insurance Company’s decision to deny coverage for alleged hail and wind damage to eight buildings. The HOA alleged that as a result of one or more hail storms, all eight of its roofs needed to be replaced, along with air conditioners and fencing. Owners denied coverage after its experts found no evidence of hail damage caused during the policy period. Although the HOA hired a public adjuster and an engineer who both opined there was recent hail damage, the jury agreed with Owners and returned a verdict in favor of Owners Insurance Company.
Katsel v. Auto-owners Ins. Co., Civil Action 16CV407, Denver District Court. Plaintiff filed claims against Auto Owners following a wind and hail storm. Auto Owners covered exterior damage but denied coverage for damage to the interior of the building as excluded by the applicable insurance policy. The policy excluded interior coverage from rain unless the building first sustained covered damage through which the water entered. The Court agreed with Karen Wheeler that there was no covered loss to the building through which the water entered. As a result, the Court granted summary judgment.
Burkitt v. Fetzer and Roase, Civil Action 16CV73, Douglas County District Court. Plaintiff filed civil claims and amended claims including fraud, false representations, conversion of funds, civil theft and civil conspiracy as a result of financial actions that led to a six year incarceration sentence for Mr. Fetzer in separate criminal case 12CR526. Karen Wheeler filed a motion to dismiss the claims against Mr. Fetzer’s mother, defendant Roase. The court agreed and dismissed all claims against Ms. Roase.
Ortega v. Callwood, et al., Civil Action 15CV77, Adams District Court. Karen Wheeler obtained summary judgment regarding plaintiff’s claim for negligent entrustment. The Court found that defendant CDL Driver Services, LLC did not exercise sufficient control over the truck involved in the collision to support plaintiff’s negligent entrustment claim. As a result, the Court dismissed that claim.
Hofmann v. Estate of Donald Chandler, 14CA1742 Colorado Supreme Court (2016). Karen Wheeler previously won summary judgment on a case that was filed in violation of the statute of limitation. After an automobile accident and before plaintiff filed her lawsuit, Donald Chandler died. Plaintiff originally sued Donald Chandler. Later, plaintiff initiated an estate for the decedent and named herself as the administrator of the estate. Plaintiff amended her complaint to sue the estate. However, plaintiff filed her amended complaint after the expiration of the statute of limitation. On appeal, Ms. Hofmann argued that her claims related back to her original filing, that her claims against the estate should be statutorily tolled and that her claims were subject to equitable tolling. The Court of Appeals disagreed with Ms. Hofmann and upheld the trial court’s dismissal. Ms. Hofmann sought relief with the Colorado Supreme Court. However, the Colorado Supreme Court decided not to take the case. As a result, the Court of Appeals win remains intact.
Expert Flooring Solutions LLC, et al. v. Auto Owners Insurance Company, Civil Action 2015CV31947, Denver District Court. Karen Wheeler represented Auto Owners Insurance Company and obtained dismissal of the claims against Auto Owners. They then sought and won a judgment against the plaintiffs for attorney fees and costs. Months later, the plaintiff’ filed a Motion for Relief from Order of Dismissal. The court found a failure to establish excusable neglect. As a result, the court denied plaintiffs’ motion.
Expert Flooring Solutions LLC, et al. v. Auto Owners Insurance Company, Civil Action 2015CV31947, Denver District Court. Karen Wheeler represented Auto Owners Insurance Company and obtained dismissal of the claims against Auto Owners. They then sought and won a judgment against the plaintiffs for attorney fees and costs.
Expert Flooring Solutions LLC, et al. v. Auto Owners Insurance Company, Civil Action 2015CV31947, Denver District Court. Plaintiffs alleged they suffered the theft of thousands of dollars worth of tools and filed an insurance claim. However, Auto Owners denied the claim on the basis that the insured failed to cooperate and provide Auto Owners the information it needed to adjust the claim. Expert Flooring filed claims for breach of contract, bad faith, violation of Colorado Revised Statutes §§10-3-1115 and 10-3-1116, and for outrageous conduct. In response to the complaint, Karen Wheeler filed a Motion to Dismiss on behalf of Auto Owners. Auto Owners explained that plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the contractual limitation, and the applicable statute of limitation. Auto Owners also explained that the individual plaintiffs were not real parties in interest and that the outrageous conduct claim failed as a matter of law. The trial court ultimately granted the motion and dismissed the case.
Hofmann v. Estate of Donald Chandler, 14CA1742 Colorado Court of Appeals (2015). Karen Wheeler previously won summary judgment on a case that was filed in violation of the statute of limitation. After an automobile accident and before plaintiff filed her lawsuit, Donald Chandler died. Plaintiff originally sued Donald Chandler. Later, plaintiff initiated an estate for the decedent and named herself as the administrator of the estate. Plaintiff amended her complaint to sue the estate. However, plaintiff filed her amended complaint after the expiration of the statute of limitation. On appeal, Ms. Hofmann argued that her claims related back to her original filing, that her claims against the estate should be statutorily tolled and that her claims were subject to equitable tolling. The Court of Appeals disagreed with Ms. Hofmann and upheld the trial court’s dismissal.
Edge Construction, LLC v. Owners Insurance Company, Civil Action 14-cv-00912-MJW, U.S. District Court, District of Colorado. After winning the case on summary judgment, Karen Wheeler sought an award of costs. On September 9, 2015, the U.S. District Court awarded Owners Insurance Company $10,019.40 in costs.
Berry v. 1836 BLAKE STREET, LLC, et al., Civil Action 14CV34220, Denver District Court. Karen Wheeler won a remedial sanction against the plaintiff for failing to timely disclose fact witnesses.
Ms. Wheeler has countless successes and many trials. For more information call 303-221-4787.