Lawsuit against county moves forward

Shooting case involved local law enforcement

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The lawsuit filed by the Denver Health and Hospital Authority against the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office for the cost of treating a man shot by deputies appears to be moving forward.

Attorneys for the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office had asked Judge Todd Plewe to dismiss the $158,000 lawsuit for the cost of treating Zachary Sullivan who was shot after he pointed a gun at two local law enforcement officers in March 2011.

Plewe said on Thursday morning during a telephonic conference with attorneys for the county and the Denver Health and Hospital Authority that he had ruled on the motion to dismiss.

Plewe did not mention how he ruled, but gave an indication when he set a status hearing for 9 a.m. Nov. 16 when he will set a trial date if no resolution is reached before then.

The county also told Plewe it planned on filing a third-party complaint within 14 days to bring in the city of Cortez as a second defendant, since the Cortez Police Department was involved in the incident the night that Sullivan was shot.

Sullivan pointed a firearm at a Cortez Police officer and a sheriff’s deputy. The gun jammed, and both officers shot him. Sullivan was taken to Southwest Memorial Hospital and then was airlifted to Denver for further treatment of multiple gunshot wounds

Denise Canada, one of the attorneys representing the Denver Health and Hospital Authority, said she had no objection to the addition of bringing the city into the complaint.

The Denver Health and Hospital Authority had responded to the county’s motion to dismiss by filing an objection by Vaughan and DeMuro, the Colorado Springs law firm hired to represent the county.

Both sides informed Plewe that they were talking about an early resolution rather than taking the case to trial.

Plewe, when setting Nov. 16 as the next status hearing, said he needs to know the role the city of Cortez will play in the case. He said he believes that more than two months should allow time for all the proceedings to play out.

Although MCSO is the agency named in the lawsuit, the Montezuma County Commission decided to fight the lawsuit rather than pay the bill.

Sullivan was recently sentenced to 48 years in prison after being convicted of attempted murder and several other crimes related to the March 2011 incident.

michaelm@cortezjournal.com