August 22, 2017

Archives for August 22, 2016

Honorable Thomas M. Deister to Retire from 21st Judicial District Court

DeisterOn Friday, August 19, 2016, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced the retirement of Hon. Thomas M. Deister from the Twenty-first Judicial District Court, effective January 1, 2017. Judge Deister was appointed to the Mesa County Court in 1994 and the Twenty-first Judicial District Court in October 2005. Prior to his appointment to the county court bench, he was in private practice in Grand Junction and served in the Judge Advocate General’s Corp. in the U.S. Navy for nine years. He received both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Denver.

Applications are now being accepted for the upcoming vacancy. Eligible applicants must be qualified electors of the Twenty-first Judicial District at the time of investiture and must have been admitted to practice law in Colorado for five years. Application forms are available from the State Judicial website or from the ex officio chair of the Twenty-first Judicial District Nominating Commission, Justice Monica Marquez. Applications must be received no later than 4 p.m. on September 26, 2016, and anyone wishing to nominate another must do so in writing no later than September 19, 2016.

For more information about the vacancy, click here.

Tenth Circuit: Admiralty Law Allows Limitation of Liability in Personal Injury Cases

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Aramark Sports & Entertainment Services, LLC on Monday, August 1, 2016.

Three couples vacationing at Lake Powell rented a boat from an Aramark facility. High winds caused the boat to capsize, and two of the couples died. Anticipating a lawsuit, Aramark filed a petition in admiralty in Utah district court under the Limitation of Liability Act, 46 U.S.C. §§ 30501–12, which permits a boat owner to obtain a ruling exonerating it or limiting its liability based on the capacity or value of the boat and freight. The district court denied the petition and Aramark appealed.

After a brief discussion of admiralty law, the Tenth Circuit evaluated the relevant provisions of the Limitation of Liability Act. The Circuit remarked that there are three possible outcomes from a limitation petition: exoneration, limitation, or no limitation of liability. Exoneration applies where no negligence is shown. Where the claimant demonstrates negligence, the burden shifts to the owner to show lack of privity or knowledge, capping the damages at the value of the vessel or freight if the owner meets this burden. If the owner fails to show privity or knowledge, there is no limitation of liability.

In this case, Aramark filed its admiralty proceeding before any negligence claim had been brought. The estates and heirs of the two deceased couples filed answers and counterclaims for wrongful death. The third couple filed an answer and counterclaim seeking indemnification from Aramark in case it was held liable for the deaths of the other couples. At the bench trial, the district court found that Aramark’s negligence had “at least in part” caused the accident and that the negligence was within Aramark’s privity or knowledge. The court therefore denied Aramark’s petition for limitation.

The Tenth Circuit disagreed with the district court’s methodology. First, the Tenth Circuit determined that Aramark had no duty to determine the weather conditions prior to renting the boat, finding that the boat’s weather radio was sufficient to apprise the boaters of any changes in weather conditions. The Tenth Circuit therefore found that Aramark had no duty to stop renting out boats when the weather would potentially change throughout the day, because claimants had an independent duty of care. However, the Tenth Circuit found a duty of Aramark to warn potential renters of the boat’s limitations. Because the district court did not decide whether Aramark exercised care in warning renters of the boat’s limitations, the Tenth Circuit remanded.

The Tenth Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court and remanded for further proceedings.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 8/19/2016

On Friday, August 19, 2016, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and seven unpublished opinions.

Celebrity Attractions, Inc. v. Oklahoma City Public Property Authority

In re Vickery: Diamond v. Vickery

Censke v. Fox

United States v. Lester

Staszak v. Lind

United States v. Moreno

Valles-Diera v. Lynch

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