April 18, 2018

Colorado Supreme Court: Attorney Fees and Costs Award Cannot Be Reduced Solely Because Work Product May Be Useful in Companion Litigation

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Crandall v. City & County of Denver on September 13, 2010.

CRS § 13-17-201—CRS § 13-16-113(2)—Costs and Attorney Fees After Dismissal of Tort Claims.

This appeal, involving an award of costs and attorney fees, is the third in a series related to a class action lawsuit for harm allegedly caused by contamination in a concourse at Denver International Airport. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to review the decision of the Colorado Court of Appeals, and affirmed the court’s decision.

Following pre-trial dismissal of this case under C.R.C.P. 12(b) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, respondent City and County of Denver (Denver) sought attorney fees and costs from plaintiffs pursuant to CRS § 13-17-201, which awards attorney fees to a defendant after pre-trial dismissal of tort claims under C.R.C.P. 12(b). The district court granted the award but reduced the amount on the basis that Denver was not entitled to recover its fees and costs for work product that may be useful in defending against plaintiffs’ related federal action. The court of appeals reversed the district court’s award reduction, concluding that Denver was entitled to all of its costs and attorney fees.

The Court held that CRS § 13-17-201 and its companion statute governing costs, CRS § 13-16-113(2), are mandatory and a court may not reduce an award on the basis that certain costs and fees are for work that may be useful in companion litigation. Accordingly, the Court determined that the district court’s award reduction was in error, and affirmed the ruling of the court of appeals.

Summary and full case available here.

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