April 18, 2018

Archives for March 19, 2018

Bills Signed Regarding Appropriating Retail Marijuana Sales Tax to Schools, Clarifying Standard for Deceptive Trade Practices, and More

On Thursday, March 15, 2018, the governor signed 15 bills into law. To date, he has signed 55 bills this legislative session. Many of Thursday’s bills involved the relocation of statutes from Title 12. Some of the other bills signed include a bill to clarify which entities are eligible to apply for special event beverage licenses, a bill appropriating retail marijuana sales tax to schools, a bill changing the date of special district elections to May every-other year, and more. The bills signed Thursday are summarized here.

  • HB 18-1027 – “Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of Laws Related to the Regulation of the Lottery from Title 24, Colorado Revised Statutes, to a New Title 44 as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Rep. Cole Wist and Sen. Daniel Kagan. The bill creates Title 44 and relocates the sections of Title 12 related to the regulation of the lottery to Title 44.
  • HB 18-1028 – “Concerning Clarification of the Standard Required for Applications for a Court Order to Require Compliance with Investigations of Deceptive Trade Practices,” by Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Cole Wist and Sens. Lois Court & Jack Tate. The bill would allow a judge to issue a court order if compliance with an investigation is necessary to investigate a deceptive trade practice.
  • HB 18-1039 – “Concerning Changing Regular Special District Elections to May of Each Odd-numbered Year, and, in Connection Therewith, Adjusting the Length of Terms Served by Directors Elected in 2020 and 2022 in Order to Implement the New Election Schedule,” by Rep. Kim Ransom and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill moves regular special district elections to the Tuesday following the first Monday of May in odd-numbered years, rather than the Tuesday immediately succeeding the first Monday of May in every even-numbered year, starting in 2023.
  • HB 18-1087 – “Concerning Department of Public Safety Authority to Repeal Rules Relating to Defunct Boards,” by Rep. Dan Thurlow and Sens. Don Coram & Daniel Kagan. The victims compensation and assistance coordinating committee and the victims assistance and law enforcement advisory board in the department of public safety were repealed in 2009. The bill gives the executive director of the department of public safety the authority to repeal rules relating to those repealed boards.
  • HB 18-1096 – “Concerning the Eligibility of Certain Entities to Apply for a Special Event Permit to Sell Alcohol Beverages,” by Rep. Matt Gray and Sen. Kevin Priola. The bill adds to the list of organizations authorized to obtain a special event permit to sell alcohol beverages for a limited period an organization that is incorporated under Colorado law for educational purposes.
  • HB 18-1100 – “Concerning the Continuous Appropriation of Money in the Educator Licensure Cash Fund,” by Rep. Millie Hamner and Sen. Kent Lambert. The bill extends the continuous appropriation of money to the State Board of Education and the Department of Education (Department) for its expenses incurred in the administration of the “Colorado Educator Licensing Act of 1991” for three more years.
  • HB 18-1101 – “Concerning Modification of the Manner in which Gross Retail Marijuana Tax Revenue that is Transferred from the General Fund to the State Public School Fund as Required by Current Law is Appropriated from the State Public School Fund,” by Rep. Millie Hamner and Sen. Kent Lambert. Beginning in the 2018-19 fiscal year, the bill requires 12.59% of the gross retail marijuana sales tax revenue remaining in the general fund after a required allocation of 10% of the revenue to local governments to be transferred to the state public school fund, and continuously appropriates that revenue for the same state fiscal year in which it is transferred from the state public school fund to the department of education to help meet the state share of total program funding for school districts and institute charter schools.
  • HB 18-1140 – “Concerning Public Official Personal Surety Bonds, and, in Connection Therewith, Repealing Obsolete Provisions and Authorizing the Purchase of Insurance in Lieu of Public Official Personal Surety Bonds,” by Rep. Hugh McKean and Sen. Dominick Moreno. The bill repeals obsolete provisions related to personal surety bonds and authorizes a public entity to purchase insurance in lieu of a public official personal surety bond and states the requirements for the insurance.
  • SB 18-036 – “Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of Laws Related to the Regulation of Tobacco Sales to Minors from Title 24, Colorado Revised Statutes, to a New Title 44 as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. Daniel Kagan and Rep. Cole Wist. The bill creates Title 44, then relocates the sections of Title 24 regarding the regulation of tobacco sales to minors to Title 44.
  • SB 18-091 – “Concerning Modernizing Terminology in the Colorado Revised Statutes Related to Behavioral Health,” by Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik and Rep. Dan Thurlow. The bill is a follow-up and clean-up to Senate Bill 17-242, which updated and modernized terminology in the Colorado Revised Statutes related to behavioral health, including mental health disorders, alcohol use disorders, and substance use disorders.
  • SB 18-092 – “Concerning Updating Statutory References to ‘County Departments of Social Services,'” by Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik and Rep. Edie Hooten. The bill modernizes outdated references in statute to “County Department(s) of Social Services,” or similar terms, to “County Department(s) of Human or Social Services.” Counties throughout the state have different ways of referring to the department in the county that does human or social services work, so it is necessary for statute to reflect that not all county departments go by one label.
  • SB 18-094 – “Concerning the Repeal of a Duplicate Definitions Section in Article 60 of Title 27, Colorado Revised Statutes,” by Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik and Rep. Edie Hooten. The bill repeals section 27-60-102.5, Colorado Revised Statutes, which is a duplicate definitions section for general provisions related to behavioral health found in article 60 of title 27, Colorado Revised Statutes. The bill leaves in place section 27-60-100.3, Colorado Revised Statutes, enacted by Senate Bill 17-242.
  • SB 18-100 – “Concerning Disclosure of Additional Mandatory Charges by Motor Vehicle Rental Companies,” by Sen. Tim Neville and Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Kevin Van Winkle. The bill requires a motor vehicle rental company to disclose to a potential customer, in any vehicle rental cost quote and in the rental agreement, additional mandatory charges applicable to the motor vehicle rental.
  • SB 18-103 – “Concerning the Issuance of Performance-based Incentives for Film Production Activities in the State,” by Sens. Nancy Todd & Jim Smallwood and Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Timothy Leonard. The bill strengthens the requirements necessary to earn performance-based incentives for film production activities in the state in various ways.
  • SB 18-164 – “Concerning the Repeal of Reporting Requirements for Certain Unfunded Programs in the Department of Human Services Until Such Time as Funding is Received,” by Sen. Dominick Moreno and Rep. Dan Thurlow. The bill directs that reporting requirements for programs established in the department of human services that have not received funding in several years be placed on hold until such time as the program receives funding.

For all of the governor’s 2018 legislative decisions, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Noncompetition Clause Unenforceable Against Dissenting Shareholder Doctor

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Crocker v. Greater Colorado Anesthesia, P.C. on Thursday, March 8, 2018.

Shareholder Employment Agreement—Merger—Dissenters’ Rights—Covenant Not to Compete—Judicial AppraisalLiquidated Damages.

Crocker, an anesthesiologist, was a shareholder in Metro Denver Anesthesia from 2001 until 2013, when that entity merged with Greater Colorado Anesthesia, P.C. (old GCA), now known as Greater Colorado Anesthesia, Inc. (new GCA). In conjunction with the merger, Crocker purchased one share of old GCA stock for $100. In April 2013 he signed a shareholder employment agreement (the Agreement), which contained a provision for liquidated damages to be paid to old GCA in the event that the former employee violated the “Damages Upon Competition” section within two years immediately following termination of the Agreement.

In 2014, old GCA began entertaining a merger with U.S. Anesthesia Partners (USAP) under which USAP would buy out GCA shares for a lump sum of cash plus USAP common stock. To receive that payment, shareholders of old GCA would be required to execute a new employment agreement reflecting a 21.3% reduction in pay and a five-year employment commitment. Old GCA would form an interim company (GCA Merger Sub, Inc.), file amended and restated articles of incorporation, and convert the company into a C-corporation, new GCA.

Crocker voted against the action and provided notice under C.R.S. § 7-113-202 that he would demand payment for his share of old GCA if the merger were approved, in exercise of his dissenter’s rights.

The merger was approved in 2015. Each approving shareholder would receive $626,000 in cash; $224,000 in USAP common stock, to fully vest in five years; and a signing/retention bonus. Old GCA sent Crocker $100 for his share. He refused it and later demanded $1,030,996.

Crocker communicated that he did not understand how the merger would affect his employment status and offered to work under a temporary contract, but GCA did not offer one. He did not return to work, but took a temporary position and then signed an employment agreement with Guardian Anesthesia Services and began providing services at a hospital within the noncompete area of the Agreement.

As relevant to this appeal, the district court held a trial to address (1) new CGA’s claim for damages resulting from Crocker’s alleged breach of the Agreement’s noncompete terms, and (2) new CGA’s request for a judicial appraisal of the fair value of Crocker’s 1.1% share of old GCA. The district court found that Crocker was no longer bound by the Agreement and the covenant not to compete could not be enforced against him. It also found that the fair value of Crocker’s share of old GCA was $56,044 plus interest.

On appeal, GCA argued that the district court erred in finding the noncompete provision unenforceable. The court of appeals stated, as a threshold matter, that generally a noncompete provision will survive a merger and the right to enforce the provision will vest in the surviving entity. But the court held that new GCA could not enforce the noncompete provision against Crocker because it is unreasonable to enforce the provision against a dissenting shareholder forced out of employment by the action of a merger. Here, it was undisputed that an anesthesiologist must reside within 30 minutes of where he works, and as a practical matter, enforcing the noncompete provision would have required Crocker to move or to pay GCA damages to continue to practice. Enforcement would thus further penalize Crocker’s exercise of his right to dissent rather than protect him from the conduct of the majority. Under these circumstances, the noncompete is unreasonable and imposes a hardship on Crocker. It is thus not enforceable against him as of the date the merger was finalized.

Further, C.R.S. § 8-2-113(3) directs that a damages term in a noncompete provision such as the one here is enforceable only if the amount is reasonably related to the injury suffered. Under the Agreement’s liquidated damages provision, Crocker would have to pay $207,755 in damages for the alleged violation of the noncompete provision. The district court determined, with record support, that the injury suffered by old GCA because of Crocker’s departure was zero. Here, there was no reasonable relationship between the actual injury suffered and the damages calculated per the formula, and the noncompete was not enforceable against Crocker.

Crocker cross-appealed the district court’s valuation of his share of old GCA, contending that the court erred in valuing his share by excluding evidence of the price USAP paid for old GCA. The district court did not refuse to consider the deal price, but properly rejected it because it found the price to be an unreliable starting point from which to determine fair value.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Arbitration Clause in Health Insurance Contract Displaced by C.R.S. § 10-3-1116

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Meardon v. Freedom Life Insurance Co. of America on Thursday, March 8, 2018.

Health Insurance Policy—Mandatory Arbitration—Conformity Clause—Federal Arbitration Act—C.R.S. § 10-3-1116(3)—McCarran-Ferguson Act—Federal Supremacy—Preemption—Reverse Preemption.

Defendants Freedom Life Insurance Company of America and Robert J. Pavese (collectively, Freedom Life) denied health insurance benefits claimed by plaintiff  Meardon under a health insurance policy (policy) issued to her by Freedom Life. The policy contained a mandatory arbitration clause to resolve disputes. The policy also contained a “conformity clause” stating that a policy provision that conflicts with the laws of the policyholder’s state is amended to conform to the minimum requirements of such laws. Freedom Life moved to compel arbitration and to dismiss the case, relying on the mandatory arbitration clause. The trial court denied the motion, relying on C.R.S. § 10-3-1116(3), which allows denied claims to be contested in court before a jury.

On appeal, Freedom Life contended that (1) C.R.S. § 10-3-1116(3) cannot be applied because it is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA); (2) even if the FAA does not preempt the statute, the arbitration clause remains in effect for those claims that fall outside the statute; and (3) Meardon must arbitrate her claims to “exhaust her administrative remedies” under C.R.S. § 10-3-1116(3). The plain words of the statute conflict with the mandatory arbitration clause. This conflict triggered the policy’s conformity clause, the application of which invalidated the arbitration clause for those claims covered by C.R.S. § 10-3-1116(3). Further, the FAA does not preempt C.R.S. § 10-3-1116(3) because the McCarran-Ferguson Act preempts the FAA under the doctrine of reverse-preemption.

Freedom Life alternatively contended that only those claims covered by C.R.S. § 10-3-116(3) are exempted from the arbitration clause and the remaining claims must be arbitrated. Because the parties did not seek a ruling from the trial court on this specific issue, the court of appeals was unable to determine which claims are subject to the arbitration clause.

The court’s order denying arbitration of those claims covered by C.R.S. § 10-3-1116(3) was affirmed. The case was remanded for the trial court to determine which claims are covered by C.R.S. § 10-3- 1116(3) and which are subject to the policy’s arbitration clause.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Courts May Only Appoint Receivers for Marijuana Businesses who are Licensed Under Marijuana Code

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Marriage of Yates on Thursday, March 8, 2018.

Dissolution of Marriage—Receiver—Colorado Medical Marijuana Code—Retail Marijuana Code.

Petitioner-Appellee Yates filed a petition to dissolve her marriage to respondent-appellee Humphrey. She requested the appointment of a receiver over marital property, which included marijuana businesses. A number of these marijuana businesses were licensed medical and recreational marijuana entities. The court appointed Sterling Consulting Corporation, including its principal Richard Block, as the receiver. When the court entered the receivership order, neither Block nor his employees held the licenses required by the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code and the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code to own, operate, manage, control, or work in a licensed marijuana business.

After learning of the receivership order, the Colorado Department of Revenue, officially acting as the State Licensing Authority (SLA), moved to intervene and modify the receivership order by removing the receiver, at least until Block and his employees obtained the requisite licenses. The court granted the motion to intervene, but denied the motion to modify.

On appeal, SLA challenged the court’s authority to appoint receivers who are not licensed to operate marijuana businesses. A district court may only appoint a receiver for a marijuana business who complies with Colorado’s marijuana licensing laws.

The order appointing the receiver was reversed and the case was remanded with directions.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 3/16/2018

On Friday, March 16, 2018, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and five unpublished opinions.

Davis v. United States Department of Veterans Affairs

Munguia-Baeza v. Sessions

United States v. Baker

Barlor v. Patton

Palmer v. UPS Freight

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