September 2, 2014

Colorado Court of Appeals: Arbitration Action Mischaracterized by Trial Court as Action to Recover Illiquid Debt

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Estate of Guido v. Exempla, Inc. on March 15, 2012.

Arbitration Award—Confirmation Proceedings—Statute of Limitations.

Plaintiff, the Estate of Salvadore Guido (estate), appealed the district court’s order denying its motion to confirm an arbitration award as time-barred. The order was reversed and the case was remanded.

Salvadore Guido brought a medical malpractice action against Lutheran Medical Center, which was a predecessor entity to defendant Exempla, Inc. (Exempla). The parties agreed to submit the claims to arbitration and, in June 1998, the arbitrator awarded Guido $20,000, plus interest and costs. Guido died in September 2009. In December 2010, the estate filed a motion to confirm the arbitrator’s award, alleging that the amounts awarded to Guido in the arbitration were never paid or satisfied.

The estate contended that the district court erred in denying its confirmation motion as time-barred under the six-year statute of limitations applicable to actions to recover a liquidated debt set forth in CRS § 13-80-103.5(1)(a). An application for confirmation is not a complaint that initiates a civil action in the district court. There is a clear statutory framework for the confirmation process under the Colorado Uniform Arbitration Act of 1975, which does not impose a deadline to file an application to confirm the award. Therefore, the district court mischaracterized the confirmation proceeding as an action to recover a liquidated debt pursuant to CRS § 13-80-103.5(1)(a). Accordingly, the order was reversed and the case was remanded to the district court with directions to reconsider the estate’s motion to confirm the arbitration award.

This summary is published here courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer. Other summaries for the Colorado Court of Appeals on March 15, 2012, can be found here.

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