June 24, 2017

Archives for May 27, 2016

Colorado Court of Appeals: Evidence Insufficient to Support Involuntary Administration of Medication

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People in Interest of R.K.L. on Thursday, May 19, 2016.

Involuntary Administration of Medication—Due Process—Clear and Convincing Evidence.

On request of the People, R.K.L., a/k/a A.J.J., was found to be mentally ill and a danger to others and gravely disabled, and was certified to Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan for short-term treatment for a period not to exceed three months. The probate court also authorized involuntary administration for 11 requested antipsychotic medications. Before the expiration of that order, the People filed a notice extending the certification for treatment for an additional three months and a motion to extend the involuntary medication order. The probate court, following a hearing, extended the certification for short-term treatment and granted the motion for continued involuntary administration authority for the requested medications.

A.J.J. appealed both orders. He conceded that the People had established by clear and convincing evidence that he has a mental illness and that he has not voluntarily accepted treatment. He argued that the court erred in finding that the People proved by clear and convincing evidence that he is a danger to others or gravely disabled. The Court of Appeals held that the probate court’s finding that A.J.J. is a danger to others was supported by evidence in the record. Alternatively, the Court found sufficient evidence in the record to support the probate court’s findings by clear and convincing evidence that A.J.J was gravely disabled as a result of his mental illness. Sufficient evidence supports the probate court’s orders upholding the certification and extended certification of A.J.J. for short-term treatment.

To involuntarily administer antipsychotic medication without violating a patient’s due process rights, all four elements set forth in People v. Medina, 705 P.2d 961, 973 (Colo. 1985), must be proven by clear and convincing evidence. The Court found that the evidence did not support the probate court’s findings as to two of these elements regarding involuntary administration of 10 of the medications, but the evidence was sufficient to support the administration of one medication. The Court agreed with A.J.J. that the evidence did not support the court’s findings that (1) the People had established by clear and convincing evidence that there was no less intrusive alternative than administering the 10 antipsychotics and (2) A.J.J.’s need for treatment with the 10 antipsychotic medications overrode his bona fide and legitimate interest in refusing this treatment.

The orders were reversed to the extent that they authorized involuntary administration of 10 antipsychotics and affirmed in all other respects.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Co-Owners of Ranch Validly Contracted to Allow Restrictions on Property Rights

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Reishus v. Bullmasters, LLC on Thursday, May 19, 2016.

Tenancy in Common—Declaratory Judgment—Covenant—Runs with the Land.

Adams Ranch is a property owned by tenants in common. Plaintiffs are some of the owners who are the appointed managers of the ranch; they brought a declaratory judgment action after defendants (other owners) objected to an amendment to an ownership agreement restricting hunting rights at the ranch.

The parties stipulated to the following relevant facts. In 1983, the owner of Adams Ranch conveyed it to 11 individuals as tenants in common. Only two of the original grantees still have ownership interests and are among the plaintiffs. The original ownership agreement stated it could be “amended or deleted by a simple majority of the individual owners at any time.” In 2007, more than a majority of the then co-owners signed an “Amended and Restated Adams Ranch Ownership Agreement” (2007 Amended Agreement). The 2007 Amended Agreement superseded the original ownership agreement and expressly states that it runs with the land and is binding on all owners, their legal representatives, heirs, successors, and assigns. It can be amended “at any time by written and recorded instrument signed by the then record Owners of at least 7/12ths of the Ownership Interests.”

In 2011, an amendment limiting hunting days per fraction of ownership was adopted by 7/12ths of the ownership interests. Defendants disputed the validity of the hunting limitation, asserting that it improperly restricted their possessory and use rights as tenants in common, which cannot be restricted without their consent. The district court held that the hunting restriction was validly adopted and binding on all owners.

On appeal, defendants first argued that one group of co-owners in a tenancy in common cannot limit the possessory rights of other co-owners without their unanimous consent. The Court of Appeals agreed with defendants that each tenant in a tenancy in common is entitled to equal use and possession of the property. However, it also found that tenants in common can contract otherwise and that there is no necessity of unanimous consent where co-owners contract such entitlement in the ownership agreements. The Court concluded that the co-owners of the ranch validly contracted to allow restrictions on their possessory rights and to allow those restrictions if approved by 7/12ths of the ownership interests.

Defendants also argued that the 2007 Amended Agreement was not a real covenant binding on the parties and their successors in interest. The Court disagreed, noting the explicit language in the 2007 Amended Agreement stating that it bound successors and ran with the land.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: No Error in ALJ’s Finding of Claimant’s Attempt to Circumvent Burden of Proof

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Feliciano v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office on Thursday, May 19, 2016.

Workers’ Compensation—Reopening Claim—DIME—Maximum Medical Improvement.

Claimant sustained an injury, underwent treatment, and was placed at maximum medical improvement (MMI) by her authorized treating provider (ATP). Claimant requested a division-sponsored independent medical examination (DIME) to challenge the ATP’s MMI finding. The DIME physician agreed with the ATP’s MMI date and recommendation for treatment, and he rated claimant’s impairment. Claimant’s employer and its insurer filed a final admission of liability (FAL) based on the DIME.

Claimant did not object to the FAL but instead petitioned to reopen her claim less than two weeks after the FAL was filed and while her claim was still open. The administrative law judge (ALJ) denied and dismissed her petition, noting that the proper procedure would have been to challenge the DIME. The Industrial Claim Appeals Office affirmed and claimant appealed.

On appeal, claimant argued that the ALJ improperly disregarded her counsel’s arguments that she was not challenging the MMI finding and that the ALJ’s findings were not supported by substantial evidence. To reopen a claim, a claimant must show error, mistake, or change in condition. The reopening of a claim is within the sound discretion of the ALJ and may only be reversed for fraud or clear abuse of discretion. The ALJ found that claimant was filing to reopen a claim that wasn’t closed to avoid the higher burden of proof required to overcome a DIME. Claimant’s counsel admitted at oral argument that the petition to reopen was a “strategic” move taken because counsel did not believe claimant could overcome the DIME. The record supports the ALJ’s determination that claimant improperly used the reopening process to challenge the DIME.

The order was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 5/26/2016

On Thursday, May 26, 2016, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued two published opinions and five unpublished opinions.

United States v. Betances

United States v. Warren

Gillings v. Banvelos

Benavidez v. Colvin

LaLiberte v. United States Probation

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.