June 23, 2018

Colorado Supreme Court: Trial Courts Must Review Claims in Amended Complaint to Evaluate Eligibility for Jury Trial

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Mason v. Farm Credit of Southern Colorado on Monday, June 4, 2018.

ACA—C.R.C.P. 38—Right to a Jury Trial—Legal or Equitable—Basic Thrust Test.

This case concerns the right to a jury trial in a civil case. The supreme court considered whether trial courts must review the claims in a plaintiff’s amended complaint, as opposed to those in its original complaint, to determine whether a party is entitled to a jury trial under C.R.C.P. 38. The court concluded that its prior cases and the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure require it to answer that question affirmatively. Accordingly, the court held that when a plaintiff amends its complaint and a party properly demands a jury trial under C.R.C.P. 38, the trial court should determine whether the case may be tried to a jury based on the claims in the amended complaint. The court further held that C.R.C.P. 38 permits a case to be tried to a jury when the claims in the plaintiff’s amended complaint are primarily legal, as opposed to equitable. Finally, after examining respondents’ amended complaint, the court concluded that respondents’ claims against petitioner are primarily legal. Thus, petitioner was entitled to a jury trial under C.R.C.P. 38.

The court of appeals’ judgment was reversed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

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