Articles Posted in Colorado Supreme Court

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Petitioners Scott Smith and D. Michael Kopp, both registered electors, appealed the actions of the Ballot Title Setting Board (“Title Board”) regarding the setting of the title and ballot title and submission clause for Proposed Initiative 2017–2018 #4 (“Initiative #4”). Issues for the Colorado Supreme Court’s review were: (1) Initiative #4 contained a single subject; and (2) whether the Supreme Court had authority to review an abstract prepared and submitted to the Title Board as required by section 1-40-105.5, C.R.S. (2016). The Court concluded: (1) the initiative indeed contained a single subject (the limitation of housing growth in Colorado); and (2) section 1-40-107 authorized the Court to review such an abstract. View "In the Matter of the Title, Ballot Title and Submission Clause for 2017" on Justia Law

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A provision of the mandatory form settlement document promulgated by the Director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation (“Director”) did not waive an injured employee’s statutory right under section 8-43-204(1), C.R.S. (2016), to reopen a settlement based on a mutual mistake of material fact. Petitioner Victor England was a truck driver for Amerigas Propane. He filed a workers’ compensation claim after sustaining a serious injury to his shoulder in December 2012 while making a delivery for Amerigas. England’s claim was governed by the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act, which required that settlements between employer and employee must be written, signed by both sides, and approved by the Director or an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). Pursuant to section 8-43-204, the Director promulgated a form settlement agreement (“Form”), which the parties are required to use to settle all claims. In this case, the parties’ settlement agreement was consistent with the Form. England’s pain continued after the settlement agreement was signed and approved. In October 2013, he sought further medical evaluation, which revealed a previously undiagnosed stress fracture in the scapula (shoulder blade) of England’s injured shoulder. Up to this point, no one was aware that this fracture existed. England claims that if he had been aware of this fracture, he would not have settled his claim. England filed a motion to reopen the settlement on the ground that the newly discovered fracture justified reopening his workers’ compensation claim. An ALJ agreed, and the Industrial Claim Appeals Office (ICAO) affirmed. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the Form waived England’s right to reopen. The Colorado Supreme Court held that because provisions of the form document must yield to statutory rights, the court of appeals erred in its conclusion. View "England v. Amerigas Propane" on Justia Law

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A non-negligently constructed and maintained piece of playground equipment cannot be a “dangerous condition” under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act’s recreation-area waiver. Nine-year-old Alexa Loveland fell while using her elementary school playground’s zip line apparatus and severely fractured her wrist and forearm. Alexa and her parents filed a tort action against the school district, seeking damages for Alexa’s injuries. Because the Colorado legislature limited when public entities such as the school district may be sued, the issue this case presented for the Colorado Supreme Court’s review was whether the Lovelands’ lawsuit fell within one of the limited exceptions to sovereign immunity under the Act. The Supreme Court concluded the facts as the Lovelands have alleged them, did not satisfy the dangerous-condition requirement, and that the trial court was correct to conclude the recreation-area waiver did not apply. View "St. Vrain Valley Sch. Dist. RE-1J v. Loveland" on Justia Law

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Samuel J. Stoorman & Associates, P.C. represented Kristy Casagranda (“Wife”) during dissolution proceedings against her then-husband Brian Todd Dixon (“Husband”). The Firm asserted a charging lien for its fees under Colorado’s attorney’s lien statute against assets the court awarded to Wife during the divorce and obtained a court order recognizing that lien. The firm later filed a motion for an entry of judgment enforcing its charging lien against maintenance payments Husband owed to Wife, seeking to have Husband redirect those payments to the Firm. The trial court denied the motion, concluding that an attorney’s charging lien could not attach to a maintenance award. The court of appeals affirmed. Because the attorney’s lien statute’s plain language provided that a charging lien attached to any judgment that an attorney helps a client obtain, the Colorado Supreme Court reversed. View "Stoorman v. Dixon" on Justia Law

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In 2011, Petitioner Scott Foster’s former wife, Bronwen Foster (“Wife”), filed for dissolution of marriage and hired attorney John Plock to represent her. As part of the dissolution proceedings, the trial court ordered a parental responsibilities evaluation (“PRE”). The PRE was performed by Dr. Andrew Loizeaux. A second PRE was subsequently conducted by Dr. Edward Budd. Neither evaluation was favorable to Foster. The PREs were confidential and were not to be “made available for public inspection” without an order of the court. Foster was found guilty of violating a protection order issued in the dissolution proceedings. A deputy district attorney prosecuting the protection order matter filed the PREs with the criminal court for use in sentencing. Plock filed a motion in the dissolution proceedings, admitting that he had disclosed the PREs to the deputy district attorney. While the dissolution of marriage proceeding and the criminal cases were pending, Foster filed eleven separate lawsuits against those involved in the PRE process conducted by Dr. Loizeaux. Wife was named as a defendant, but Plock was not. The lawsuits alleged various claims, including defamation and outrageous conduct. The eleven cases were consolidated into one case. The defendants each moved to dismiss the case. Foster subsequently amended his complaints. In Foster’s amended complaint against Wife, he alleged among other things that she, through her attorney, caused both of the PREs to be disclosed in the criminal case. The issue this case presented for the Colorado Supreme Court’s review centered on whether mutuality was a necessary element of defensive claim preclusion. Multiple divisions of the court of appeals concluded that mutuality need not be established for the defensive use of claim preclusion, but the Supreme Court disagreed, instead concluding that mutuality was a necessary element of defensive claim preclusion. The Court also concluded that mutuality existed in this case, as did the remaining elements of claim preclusion, and therefore affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals on other grounds. View "Foster v. Plock" on Justia Law

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This case centered on a contract dispute between Clean Energy Collective LLC (CEC) and two defendants, Borrego Solar Systems, Inc. (Borrego) and 1115 Solar Development, LLC (1115 Solar). CEC was a Colorado limited liability company; Borrego was a California corporation headquartered in San Diego, and 1115 Solar was a Delaware limited liability company with its principal place of business in California. Borrego was 1115 Solar’s parent company and owned the latter in its entirety. CEC’s claims against Borrego and 1115 Solar arose from an asset purchase agreement (“APA”) to construct several solar photovoltaic projects. The APA specified that CEC would pay defendants to construct three power-generation projects in Massachusetts and allowed for additional projects pursuant to separate contracts governed by the APA’s terms. After the parties were unable to resolve disagreements regarding pricing and payments for projects subject to the APA (all of which were to be completed outside Colorado) CEC sued the defendants in Colorado, asserting claims for breach of contract and breach of warranty. The issue presented for the Supreme Court's review was whether the trial court erred in concluding Borrego was subject to general personal jurisdiction in Colorado. Because the trial court did not assess whether Borrego was essentially at home in Colorado, the Court concluded it did not fully apply the test announced in "Magill v. Ford Motor Co.," (379 P.3d 1033), and therefore erred in exercising general personal jurisdiction over Borrego. Applying the complete test itself, the Court concluded Borrego was not subject to general jurisdiction in Colorado. View "In re Clean Energy Collective LLC v. Borrego Solar Sys., Inc." on Justia Law

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This case concerned the relative priority of competing charging orders filed by 15 multiple judgment creditors against a foreign judgment debtor’s membership interests 16 in several Colorado limited liability companies. In July 2013, Chase Bank obtained an Arizona judgment of over $20 million against several defendants, including Reginald Fowler, an Arizona resident. As part of its postjudgment collection efforts, Chase obtained Arizona orders charging Fowler’s membership interests in three Colorado limited liability companies. In March 2014, respondents Douglas McClure, Nancy McClure, and Spiral Broadcasting, L.L.C. (collectively, “the McClures”), obtained a stipulated judgment for $1.5 million against Fowler, among others, in the Arizona Superior Court. In April 2014, the McClures domesticated their Arizona judgment in Colorado, and between May and July 2014, they obtained and served Colorado orders charging Fowler’s membership interests in the LLCs. Now confronted with facially competing charging orders, the LLCs paid Fowler’s then-due distributions into the Colorado District Court registry. That same day, the McClures moved for release of the distribution funds to them, and several days later, Chase sought and obtained leave to intervene and opposed the McClures’ motion. The district court ultimately ordered the distribution funds released to the McClures. Chase then domesticated its Arizona charging orders with a different Colorado District Court, and moved for reconsideration of the release order, arguing that its newly-domesticated charging orders should be deemed effective as of the date they were issued in Arizona and entitled to priority over the McClures’ charging orders. The Colorado Supreme Court concluded first that for purposes of determining the enforceability of a charging order, a membership interest of a non-Colorado citizen in a Colorado limited liability company is located in Colorado. We further conclude that when, as here, a judgment creditor obtains a foreign charging order that compels certain action by a Colorado limited liability company, the charging order is ineffective as against the limited liability company until the creditor has taken sufficient steps to obligate the company to comply with that order. Although the authorities are not uniform as to the steps to be taken, under any of the applicable scenarios, the charging orders obtained by Chase did not become effective until after the respondents had obtained and served competing charging orders. The Court thus concluded that the McClures’ charging orders were entitled to priority over Chase’s competing charging orders. View "JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. v. McClure" on Justia Law

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This case concerned the design and construction of a single-family residence in Pitkin County, Colorado. Heritage Builders, Inc. (“Heritage”) was retained as the general contractor by the original owners of the property, Karen and Courtney Lord. Pitkin County issued a certificate of occupancy for the home in September 2006. In November 2011, Richard Goodman purchased the property from the Lords. Then, sometime between March and June 2012, Goodman discovered the alleged construction defects in the home. Goodman gave Heritage informal notice of his construction defect claims in July 2013. In this original proceeding, the issue presented for the Colorado Supreme Court’s review was whether the statute of repose in section 13-80-104(1)(a), C.R.S. (2016), barred a general contractor’s third-party claims brought in response to a homeowner’s claim for construction defects discovered in the fifth or sixth year following substantial completion of an improvement to real property. The Court held that such claims are timely, irrespective of both the two-year statute of limitations in section 13-80-102, C.R.S. (2016), and the six-year statute of repose in section 13-80-104(1)(a), so long as they are brought at any time before the ninety-day timeframe outlined in section 13-80-104(1)(b)(II). View "In re Goodman v. Heritage Builders" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether Colorado had jurisdiction to award benefits for out-of-state work-related injuries and to impose a statutorily penalty on an employer under 8-41-204, C.R.S. (2016), when the employer was not a citizen of Colorado, and had no offices or operations in Colorado, only that the employer hired a Colorado citizen within the state. The Supreme Court held that on the facts presented here, Colorado lacked personal jurisdiction over the employer. View "Youngquist v. Miner" on Justia Law

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The issue this matter presented for the Supreme Court's review centered on a discovery dispute between plaintiff Stephen Rumnock and defendant American Family Mutual Insurance Company. After being ordered to produce documents that Rumnock requested, American Family disclosed some and simultaneously moved for a protective order. The motion sought to preclude Rumnock from using or disclosing the documents (alleged to be trade secrets) outside of this litigation. The trial court granted in part and denied in part, ordering that the alleged trade secrets not be shared with American Family's competitors, but declining to further limit their use. American Family petitioned the Colorado Supreme Court to direct the trial court to enter the protective order. The Supreme Court declined to do so, finding that American Family failed to present to the trial court evidence demonstrating the documents were trade secrets or otherwise confidential commercial information. View "In re Rumnock v. Anschutz" on Justia Law