July 29, 2015

Business Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Drones) Expanding Exponentially

DroneDrones, also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (UAV), are not just for hobbyists anymore. Drones are devices that are used for flight in the air without an onboard pilot. Drones can be small and simple, such as remote-controlled aircraft popularized by hobbyists, or large and complex, like the surveillance aircraft used by the military in hostile areas. The military has been using drones for many years to conduct surveillance and deliver weapons in dangerous war zones. However, in the last several years, civilian and business use of drones has increased dramatically.

Non-military drone use is categorized into public aircraft operations and civil operations. Public aircraft operations are uses by public agencies or organizations of a particular aircraft for a particular purpose in a particular area. Public operation uses can include law enforcement, firefighting, border patrol, disaster relief, search and rescue, and military training. Civil operations are any operations that do not meet the statutory criteria for public aircraft operations, including business uses such as for agricultural purposes, construction, security, TV and movie industry uses, environmental monitoring, insurance, aerial photography, news media, and much more.

Because they utilize airspace for their operations, drones are regulated by the FAA. In 2013, the FAA issued a comprehensive plan for the safe integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the country’s airspace. In early 2015, the FAA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for small UAS. The goal of the proposed rules is to provide a framework of regulations to allow routine use of certain small UAS while maintaining flexibility to accommodate future changes in technology. The public comment period for the proposed rules ended April 24, 2015.

Businesses wishing to utilize drones must obtain a Section 333 Exemption from the FAA. Petitions for Section 333 Exemption must be filed with and approved by the FAA before the drone may be used for business purposes. The FAA can also grant businesses the right to use airspace via Special Airworthiness Certificates. Special Airworthiness Certificates are available for research and development or experimental aircraft.

Attorney Thomas Dougherty, II, head of Lewis Roca Rothgerber’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Industry Team, will discuss drone law at CLE on July 28, 2015. Topics to be explored include potential drone uses, FAA regulations covering drones, required information for petitions for Section 333 Exemption, Certificates of Waiver or Authorization, the FAA’s enforcement authority, and legal issues arising out of state and local laws for the use of drones. Register now by clicking the links below or calling (303) 860-0608.

CLE Program: Drones for Lawyers: The Do’s and Don’ts for Clients

This CLE presentation will take place Tuesday, July 28, 2015 at the CLE offices. Click here to register for the live program or click here to register for the webcast.

Can’t make the live program? Order the homestudy here – Video OnDemand – MP3

 

New Pretrial Rules for Civil Cases—What Is Changed (Part 1 of 2)

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of The Colorado Lawyer. This is the first half of the article; click here for the second half. Reprinted with permission.

DickHolmeBy Richard P. Holme

Effective July 1, 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court has adopted a series of amendments to the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure designed to significantly reduce the cost of and delays in litigation and to create a new culture for the handling of lawsuits. The amended rules will increase involvement of judges to establish early and personal judicial oversight of pretrial activities; provide for expedited discovery motions; change the breadth of required disclosures; limit discovery to what is needed, not what is wanted; limit expert discovery; clarify obligations when responding to interrogatories and requests for documents; and strengthen judges’ ability to award sanctions for noncompliance with these rules. The newly amended rules are available at www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Supreme_Court/Rule_Changes/2015.cfm (click on Rule Change 2015(05)).

These revised pretrial rules will apply only to cases filed on or after July 1, 2015. Cases filed before then will continue to be governed by the older rules.[1] This article explains, for both judges and lawyers, the nature of and justification for the changes and how the changes endeavor to foster a new culture and paradigm for handling civil cases in a way that will be faster and less expensive, while preserving the necessary search for and application of justice.

Reasons for the Changed Rules

With the approaching termination of the Civil Action Pilot Project (CAPP) in early 2014, the Colorado Supreme Court asked its Civil Rules Committee to consider what should be done with those rules. The Civil Rules Committee appointed a subcommittee that considered and recommended a number of amendments to the rules,[2] which were discussed, modified, and approved by the entire Committee. The Supreme Court solicited written comments, held a public hearing to discuss the proposals, and adopted the recommended amendments with a few changes.

The reasons for these changes arose in conjunction with a dramatically increased nationwide recognition of the problem and the need for revised rules. The proposed rules were described in the April 2015 article in The Colorado Lawyer[3] (“Part I: A New Paradigm”). The primary influences on the changes were (1) the changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Federal Rules) recommended by the federal Judicial Conference Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, which are expected to be effective December 1, 2015;[4] and (2) the June 30, 2015 expiration of CAPP for the handling of business actions applicable in five of the Denver metropolitan counties.[5] The more specific reasons and justifications for substantive changes in Colorado’s various amended rules are discussed below. The amendments contain a number of other organizational and non-substantive technical and conforming changes that are not detailed in this article.

It is significant that the Supreme Court has adopted not only the revised rules (New Rules) discussed below, but also a set of Comments that are published along with the New Rules. Thus, interpretation of the New Rules, if necessary, should begin with an analysis of any pertinent provisions of the Court’s “2015 Comments.”

Rule 1—Scope of Rules

Other than the belated removal of the reference to the “Superior Court,” gone for so long that most readers will have never heard of it,[6] the reason for amending Rule 1 was to make clear the intended breadth of its impact. Thus, securing “the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action” is no longer simply a basis for “liberal construction” of the Civil Rules. As amended, Rule 1 now requires that the rules are also to be “administered and employed by the court and the parties” to achieve a just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of all cases. (Emphasis added).

The amended language in Rule 1 is taken verbatim from the change recommended for Federal Rule 1. As explained by the federal Advisory Committee on Civil Rules (Advisory Committee), a significant reason for bringing parties under the requirements of Rule 1 is to emphasize the need for the parties, and their counsel, to cooperate with each other to bring about the expeditious and effective processing of cases.[7]

No one challenges the proposition that litigation moves much more smoothly, quickly, and efficiently when parties, and especially the lawyers, cooperate with each other in handling lawsuits. Although it is difficult to legislate civility, with the broadening of Rule 1’s applicability, lawyers can expect courts to remind them regularly of the importance—and effectiveness—of cooperating among themselves.

Rule 12—Defenses and Objections

The changes to Rule 12 are largely cosmetic. Rule 12(a) is broken into several subsections to make its provisions somewhat easier to find and read. Also, a number of changes were made to amend gender-based terminology.

It is noteworthy, however, and consistent with the aim of making litigation more just, speedy, and inexpensive, that the 2015 Comment to Rule 12 also pointedly notes that, “The practice of pleading every affirmative defense listed in Rule 8(c), irrespective of a factual basis for the defense, is improper under C.R.C.P. 11(a).” The 2015 Comment notes that defenses may be pleaded only if well founded in fact and warranted by existing law or a good-faith argument for changing existing law. If an adequate basis for a defense is subsequently discovered, a defendant may then move to amend the answer to add it.

Rule 16—Case Management

The case management provisions of Rule 16(b) through (e) are largely rewritten, and the central focus of case management has been significantly changed. The primary change has been to involve the trial judge in case management personally and actively from an early stage of the case. As noted in “Part I: A New Paradigm” in describing the proposed amendments to the Federal Rules, the federal Advisory Committee said, “What is needed can be described in two words—cooperation and proportionality—and one phrase—sustained, active, hands-on judicial case management.”[8] Likewise, this judicial involvement and oversight were crucial and widely appreciated aspects of CAPP by both lawyers and judges.[9] Early, active judicial case management is also an important factor emphasized by leading judges nationwide.[10]

Early judicial involvement should include review and discussion of a number of matters, depending on the individual case. It can and should include identifying pleading and discovery issues proportional to the needs of the case, narrowing the claims and defenses, focusing and targeting discovery, establishing limits on allowable discovery, emphasizing the expectation that parties must cooperate civilly and efficiently, and setting a firm trial date.[11]

New Rule 16 provides that the initial case management conference will be held within forty-nine days of the at issue date of the case.[12] There is nothing in the Rule, however, that precludes a judge from initiating an earlier, in-person (or telephonic or video) status conference. Indeed, a number of judges use such early conferences.[13] There are several matters that can be accomplished at such an early status conference and probably within about fifteen minutes. For example, the court can impress on the parties its view of the importance that counsel cooperate and maintain civility; and in smaller cases, it can urge the parties to give serious consideration to using Simplified Procedure under Rule 16.1 as a means of avoiding the need to prepare a proposed case management order (proposed order). (One of the reasons Simplified Procedure was successful during its pilot phase, under Judges Harlan Bockman and Christopher Munch, but was not as successful later, was that the pilot judges specifically urged parties to use simplified procedure, but subsequent judges generally have not affirmatively encouraged its use.) The court can also urge parties to demonstrate genuine cooperation and to agree on appropriately proportional discovery in their proposed order so they can avoid the necessity of a subsequent initial case management conference, as provided in Rule 16(d)(3). Additionally, the court can encourage reducing unnecessary claims and defenses, as well as targeting initial discovery on a key issue or issues in the case.

To facilitate meaningful case management, the parties will need to communicate early in the case to prepare a proposed order that will provide the court the basic information it needs to meaningfully participate. The new Rule 16 also anticipates an expanded use of oral motions and the potential for more regular contact between the parties and the judge to keep the case moving efficiently.

The revisions to Rule 16 reflect several matters learned both from CAPP and from the case management experience of the members of Civil Rules Committee. Under CAPP, case management conferences were to be attended in person by lead counsel;[14] they were to be preceded by a fairly extensive report of pertinent matters; and they were then followed by a case management order from the judge.[15] Thereafter, courts were instructed by CAPP to provide “active case management,” including prompt conferences by telephone if permitted by the court.[16] Firm trial dates were to be set at the case management conference and not changed absent extraordinary circumstances.[17]

After more than two years of experience with CAPP, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) at the University of Denver published its report of the case data and experience of lawyers and judges with CAPP based on surveys, interviews, and reviews of case filings.[18] For lawyers, “CAPP’s focus on early, active and ongoing judicial management of cases received more positive feedback than any other aspect of the project.”[19] Similarly, judges found that the initial case management conference was “the most useful tool for determining a proportionate pretrial process.”[20]

The use of the “presumed case management order” was adopted by the Colorado Supreme Court in 2002 as a means of reducing the time attorneys spend preparing individual proposed orders. Nonetheless, the intervening years have shown that it also isolated the judges from involvement in the early and frequently most expensive and time-consuming aspects of litigation. The presumed case management order also had the somewhat perverse effect of disengaging the lead trial lawyers from much thought or collaboration with opposing counsel about the genuine needs of the case. Thus, in some cases, much of the pretrial disclosure and discovery was left in the hands of junior lawyers with less experience and little or no independent responsibility and accountability to the judicial system. The prevailing culture of “leave no stone unturned regardless of the cost” remained unchanged.

Prior to the current amendments, Rule 16(b) normally meant that no case management order would be issued by the court. The Rule itself became the “presumptive” order, unless the parties filed either a stipulated or disputed case management order within forty-two days of the at-issue date. Experience suggests that having an actual court order improves compliance with the discovery terms and is easier to enforce, when needed. Without judicial awareness of pretrial activities, lawyers’ financial incentives and concerns about protection against possible future malpractice claims meant that many cases proceeded on a “give us everything” basis without independent oversight and supervision.

Although Rule 16(b) focuses on the initial case management conference, courts and parties should note that nothing in this rule prevents additional status conferences when the need becomes apparent. Indeed, in complex cases, it may be desirable to have regularly scheduled status conferences (for example, “3:30 p.m. on the last Friday of every month”) to deal with new issues that may have arisen or to determine which conference can be cancelled if no new problems have arisen that would benefit from the court’s participation and oversight.

Rule 16(a)—Purpose and Scope

First, and importantly, the Civil Rules Committee did not revise Rule 16(a). The message and meaning of that section remain significant and should create the environment for the remainder of Rule 16 (and all other pretrial matters).

(a) Purpose and Scope. The purpose of this Rule 16 is to establish a uniform, court-supervised procedure involving case management which encourages professionalism and cooperation among counsel and parties to facilitate disclosure, discovery, pretrial and trial procedures.

This purpose carries added weight and reemphasizes the expansion of Rule 1’s requirement that court and parties now also administer and employ these rules to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action.

Rule 16(b)—Case Management Order

This section of Rule 16 has been completely revised. The parties must now prepare and submit to the court a proposed order not later than forty-two days after the case is at issue. There is now an approved form—JDF 622—that can be downloaded and filled in to comply with this requirement. The proposed order is to be submitted in editable format so that the court can make whatever amendments to the proposed order it deems to be appropriate and desirable. It is expected that many proposed orders will have attached pages providing the information requested in the form. Also, when the parties are not in agreement on certain issues, each party must supply on the form its own version of the information sought by any particular inquiry.

Although there are a number of items of information that must be included, the judges who had experience with the use of a detailed form under CAPP[21] have concluded that the greater amount of information was necessary for them to effectively provide guidance at the case management conference. While the required information will necessitate more thought and more conferring at the outset of the case by parties and their counsel, this information should, in any event, be discussed early in the case if the goal of just, speedy, and inexpensive is to be approached. Furthermore, although some lawyers complain that preparation of this information is unnecessary “front-loading” of expense, counsel and parties will need this same information to evaluate and expedite any possible settlement or to consider the wisdom of proceeding to trial.

Each of the requirements contained in revised Rule 16(b) is described below. Readers are cautioned to read the text of the rules, because not all details of each subsection are discussed.

Rule 16(b)(1)—At-issue date. The at-issue date still triggers the timing requirements of the proposed order, initial disclosures, and discovery. The at-issue date remains the day when all parties have been served and all Rule 7 pleadings have been filed, or defaults or dismissals have been entered. The at-issue date is included in the proposed order for the court’s information.

Rule 16(b)(2)—Responsible Attorney. As in the prior Rule 16(b)(2), the responsible attorney is charged with organizing and preparing the proposed order and the steps leading to the preparation of that order. Normally, the responsible attorney will be plaintiff’s counsel, unless the plaintiff is pro se; in that case the responsible attorney may be the defendant’s counsel. The proposed order must identify the responsible attorney and provide contact information for the court’s use.

Rule 16(b)(3)—Meet and Confer. Within two weeks of the at-issue date, lead counsel and unrepresented parties are to confer about the case and the proposed order. The rule specifically calls for these conferences to be person-to-person (“in person or by telephone”) so that ordinary e-mails are insufficient to comply. Indeed, it is anticipated that preparing proposed orders may require multiple conferences and meetings. To ensure these conferences take place in a timely fashion, the rule also requires that the proposed order list the dates and identities of persons participating in those conferences. The conferences are held to discuss the basis for the claims and defenses, anticipated initial disclosures, the proposed order, and possible dates for the case management conference. The responsible attorney, who has arranged the conference, must obtain a date for the case management conference from the court. This sounds like a lot of time and effort, but if started in a timely fashion (and much can be done even before the final pleadings are filed), it should normally be easy to accomplish, because the time between the at-issue date and the case management conference can be up to seven weeks, and the proposed order does not have to be filed until one week before the case management conference.

Rule 16(b)(4)—Description of the Case. To advise the court of the nature of the case, each party must prepare a one-page (double-spaced) description of the case, including identification of the issues to be tried. Obviously, this is not intended to be a detailed factual recitation or a regurgitation of the entire complaint. It simply needs to be enough for the court to tell, for example, whether this is a single or multiple car accident, an antitrust case, or a building defect dispute. If publishers such as West Publishing can summarize a case decision in a paragraph or two, it was felt that parties to the litigation should also be able to describe the case succinctly.

Rule 16(b)(5)—Pending Motions. When there are motions under Rule 12 or otherwise that have not been resolved or ruled on when the proposed order is submitted, they are to be listed so the court will be reminded of them. Parties should be prepared to argue or discuss those motions at the case management conference, even if the time for full briefing has not expired. The court may decide them at that time, either by written order or orally from the bench.

Rule 16(b)(6)—Evaluation of Proportionality. For other than smaller, routine cases, this may be one of the more important parts of the proposed order. It will not be unusual for one of the major topics of discussion at the case management conference to be the proportionality of desired discovery, with the court deciding how much discovery is appropriate under the circumstances of the case. To the extent that the parties are seeking either more discovery than the limits set out in Rule 26(b)(2) or are seeking to limit even that discovery, this is the portion of the proposed order in which to address those issues. Parties should at least discuss the proportionality considerations listed in Rule 26(b)(1) that are relevant to the case at hand. These may include: (1) the importance of the issues at stake in the action, (2) the amount in controversy, (3) the parties’ relative access to relevant information, (4) the parties’ resources, (5) the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and (6) whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Individual cases may have additional matters that a court should consider, and they should be identified in this section of the proposed order.

Rule 16(b)(7)—Initial Exploration of Prompt Settlement and Prospects for Settlement. The parties are required to discuss possible settlement, describe the prospects for settlement, and provide future dates for mediation or arbitration. Experience shows that more than 95% of the cases will not go to trial, so this requirement merely reflects that reality and seeks to have the parties start the discussions earlier rather than later. The discussion may also be helpful in organizing discovery. For example, if the defendant believes that liability is probably going to be established but that it needs to understand the plaintiff’s damages before settlement discussions are likely to be useful, the parties or court may suggest phasing discovery to focus on damages before going into all other areas. This way, settlement can be reopened before unnecessary sums are spent on less pertinent issues. Thus, in this example, proposed dates for settlement could be set for shortly after the projected date for completing discovery on damages.

Rule 16(b)(8)—Proposed Deadlines for Amendments. This provision moves the date for amending pleadings and adding parties up to two weeks from the deadline in prior Rule 16(b)(8). However, if this deadline is unnecessary or can be moved sooner to the case management conference, that fact should be addressed in this portion of the proposed order. The justification for fifteen weeks following the at-issue date is: seven weeks for the case management conference, five weeks for the first set of discovery responses, and three weeks to prepare any amendments. Of course, nothing prevents parties from taking depositions to investigate this subject following the case management conference or requesting expedited written discovery responses related to this issue. Parties should be prepared for the possibility that the court may not believe that much time is needed and may expedite this deadline to keep the case moving.

Rule 16(b)(9)—Disclosures. The parties’ initial disclosures under Rule 26(a)(1) are due twenty-eight days following the at-issue date—that is, three weeks before the case management conference deadline. The proposed order must state when those disclosures were actually made and when the documents were produced. Because parties sometimes disagree on whether the disclosures are complete, this proposed order requests that any objections to the other parties’ disclosures be addressed here. This way, there is a significant likelihood that the judge can rule on those issues at the case management conference without further delay. Indeed, Rule 26(a)(1) specifically prohibits filing motions objecting to allegedly inadequate disclosures prior to the case management conference. This is required because the adequacy of disclosures normally can be more easily addressed in person at the case management conference at the same time the court is considering issues of proportionality.

Rule 16(b)(10)—Computation and Discovery Relating to Damages. Rule 26(a)(1)(C) requires (and has for years) disclosure of categories of damages, a computation of damages, and supporting documents. That requirement is not changed in the New Rules. However, experience has shown that frequently claimants will assert that they have not been able to establish those calculations or to have gathered the supporting documents. Because this information is often crucial to resolving the case through settlement discussions, this new provision demands at least that if the disclosures have not been made, the claiming party must explain why it was unable to provide the disclosures as required and when it expects that it can produce those disclosures and documents. If the court believes the delay does not result from inability to provide the damages or that the delay is too distant, it may well shorten those time limits when it issues the case management order.

Rule 16(b)(11)—Discovery Limits and Schedule. This provision essentially incorporates the presumptive limits on discovery contained in Rule 26(b)(2), although it expressly permits parties to request more or less discovery and allows the court to either increase or decrease those limits after considering the proportionality factors in Rule 26(b)(1). Parties should expect to be asked to support any changes in discovery when they attend the case management conference. The changes in authorized discovery may not only impact numbers of deponents or allowed hours of depositions, but might also limit the number of interrogatories, requests to produce documents, or requests for admissions. Before attending the case management conference, parties should think about what specific written discovery they might want, especially interrogatories and requests for admission, because some judges and lawyers believe that such discovery is often unproductive or not proportional.

This provision also establishes that discovery may not commence until the case management order is served. This delay is incorporated to allow the court to expand or limit discovery before the parties begin under possibly erroneous assumptions as to what discovery will be allowed or limited. Likewise, the deadline for discovery is set for not later than forty-nine days before trial—a date the court can alter if appropriate.

A provision relating to discovery limits allows the court to consider limits on awardable costs. For example, a court might include in the order that it will not allow recovery of videotape charges for depositions, travel costs for out-of-state depositions of relatively unimportant witnesses, or travel costs for the depositions that could be taken telephonically. The parties can consider how badly they really need that discovery.

Rule 16(b)(12)—Subjects for Expert Testimony. This subsection asks the parties to identify subject areas for anticipated expert testimony both for retained experts and for percipient witnesses of facts who may also be asked to provide opinion testimony (such as the investigating police officer, the attending physician, or a party’s accountant). If parties on one side of a case are seeking more than one retained expert per subject, they must show the good cause for them, consistent with proportionality. (A case for negligent heart surgery may justify more experts than a case for negligent setting of a broken arm.) Sometimes, parties on one side of the case may have different perspectives and need additional experts, which this provision allows. For example, plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases may sue hospitals, nurses, and doctors, each of whom may want to have available expert testimony as to why they are not liable but other defendants might be. The same problem can be routinely expected in building defect cases.

Rule 16(b)(13)—Proposed Deadlines for Expert Disclosures. Expert disclosures are to be made within the time limits established in Rule 26(a)(2)(C), unless some different date is set in this subsection. For example, it might be expeditious for discovery to focus on liability at the outset and, therefore, to have liability experts provide their disclosures early so parties can attempt to settle or so the court could consider summary judgment on that issue before the parties undergo the entire panoply of discovery.

Rule 16(b)(14)—Oral Discovery Motions. A significant number of judges have found that requiring discovery disputes to be presented on short notice and orally is much faster, cheaper, and more efficient than using an extended written motion briefing schedule and then plowing through dozens of pages of briefs.[22] Other judges require that motions be written and fully briefed. Because of the substantial potential savings in time and expense of oral motions, it was felt desirable to bring this issue to everyone’s attention and to have the judge advise the lawyers of the judge’s practice in this respect. If the lawyers are not already aware of the court’s procedures, they should leave unmarked the choice of “(does)(does not) require discovery motions to be presented orally” in the proposed order. The judge can then mark out the inappropriate one or may insert a more extensive description of the judge’s desires concerning discovery motions.

Rule 16(b)(15)—Electronically Stored Information. The federal courts have tended to impose exhaustive and frequently onerous requirements on parties with respect to preservation, production, and handling of electronically stored information (ESI).[23] The Colorado Civil Rules Committee on the other hand has been reluctant to impose specific requirements on all Colorado cases primarily because more than 50% of the civil cases seek relief of under $100,000 and very few seek as much as $1 million. Thus, while cases will almost inevitably have some information that is in the form of ESI, a large proportion of those cases in Colorado courts will not involve unusual amounts of relevant ESI, and parties acting in good faith can normally find it easy to agree on and produce that information.

Where, however, it appears early in the case that a significant amount of the discoverable ESI will be involved, the parties must discuss, attempt to resolve, and report in the proposed order (1) issues of any search terms that should be used; (2) production, preservation, and restoration of ESI; (3) the form of production (for example, native format, with or without metadata, etc.); and, if significant, (4) an estimate of the related cost of such production. Here, as in many aspects of litigation, genuine cooperation and communication among counsel can save thousands of dollars, weeks or months of time, and substantial brain damage to all concerned. This provision does not attempt to draw a sharp line between whether and when such details are to be included, because this decision must be made on a case-by-case basis. Whatever is decided, the parties should expect to be asked about it by the judge at the case management conference.

Even if discovery of ESI is relatively simple and noncontroversial, it is important to address this topic soon after the case is at issue so the parties can understand what problems, if any, might be anticipated. Even an agreement that the parties will work together and do not need special provisions can smooth the way for better cooperation, less time, and less expense.

Rule 16(b)(16)—Trial Date and Length of Trial. The parties should discuss and report on their sense as to when they expect to complete discovery, as well as the expected length of the trial itself. In most cases, the parties should expect that the court will set a trial date during the case management conference. However, some courts decline to set trial dates until the completion of discovery or some other date further into the case preparation. This provision allows for both situations. Still, most judges expect that the case will be tried on the first trial date, so parties should not count on easy or automatic extensions of a trial date.

Rule 16(b)(17)—Other Appropriate Matters. This portion of the report is simply a catch-all for other issues unique to the particular case.

Rule 16(b)(18)—Entry of Case Management Order. Once the proposed order is prepared for filing, lead counsel are to approve and sign it before filing. After the case management conference and after reviewing and making any changes the court deems necessary or appropriate, the court shall sign the document, at which time it will become the official case management order and will bind the parties thereafter, unless modified pursuant to Rule 16(e).

Rule 16(c)—Pretrial Motions

The provisions of the prior Rule 16(c) (modified case management orders) are completely deleted because that section related to modifications of presumptive case management orders, which have been repealed. Modification of those orders is now moot. In its place, the provisions of former Rule 16(b)(9) have been moved verbatim to Rule 16(c). Thus, the need to file pretrial motions and motionsin limine thirty-five days before trial, summary judgment motions ninety-one days before trial, and challenges to the admissibility of expert testimony seventy days before trial remain intact.

Rule 16(d)—Case Management Conferences

Again, because the prior version of this section related to resolution of disputed modified case management orders, or specially requested case management conferences, this section has been completely rewritten and is now a focal point of the effort to bring early, active judicial case management to the forefront of civil litigation. The impetus for this change was from several sources. The ACTL Final Report states:

We believe that pretrial conferences should be held early and that in those conferences courts should identify pleading and discovery issues, specify when they should be addressed and resolved, describe the types of limited discovery that will be permitted and set a timetable for completion. We also believe the conferences are important for a speedy and efficient resolution of the litigation because they allow the court to set directions and guidelines early in the case.[24]

This conclusion was bolstered by the interviews with outstanding trial judges, virtually all of whom use in-person, initial case management conferences.[25]

Similarly, an amendment to Federal Rule 16(b) strikes the prior reference to scheduling conferences (the federal term for case management conferences) being held by “telephone, mail, or other means.” Although the text of the federal rule suggests that scheduling conferences are to be conducted in person, the accompanying Committee Note urges that the conference be held “in person, by telephone or by more sophisticated electronic means,” anticipating video conferences.[26] The Note adds that a “scheduling conference is more effective if the court and parties engage in direct simultaneous communication.”[27]

Colorado Rule 16(d)(1) requires that the case management conference be held no later than forty-nine days (seven weeks) after the case is at issue. There is no prohibition on the court setting an earlier conference or on the parties seeking an earlier date from the court.

Rule 16(d)(2) provides that lead counsel for the parties and any unrepresented parties are to be present at the case management conference in person, unless allowed by the court to attend by telephone or video conference, if available. That subsection calls for parties to be prepared to “discuss the proposed order, issues requiring resolution and any special circumstances of the case.” Experienced judges who have previously used in-person case management conferences suggest that there are a number of matters that can be discussed and clarified to create case preparation procedures that are in fact just, speedy, and inexpensive.[28]

Rule 16(d)(3) provides the one exception for personal case management conferences. Where all parties are represented by counsel and counsel agree, they may submit a request to the court to dispense with a case management conference. This does not, however, dispense with the need to prepare and file a proposed order. The court can grant the request if (1) there appear to be no unusual issues that might be better dealt with by the court early in the case; (2) counsel appear to be working together collegially; and (3) the proposed order appears to be consistent with the best interests of the parties and is proportional to the needs of the case. It is expected that it will be the smaller cases and those with fewer factual and legal issues for which courts will more likely dispense with the case management conferences. Counsel can clearly aid their request if they can demonstrate by a clear, concise, and limited proposed order that they are—and are likely to continue to be—working together in the spirit of obtaining a just, speedy, and inexpensive resolution.

Rule 16(e)—Amendment of Case Management Orders

All amendments to case management orders, whether for extension of deadlines or otherwise, must be supported by specific showings of good cause for the timing of the request and for its necessity. If applicable, the showing of good cause needs to address the provisions of Rule 26(b)(2)(F), describing factors for determining good cause, discussed below. Although this amended rule is essentially the same as the prior version of this rule, because the details of the new case management orders are more extensive, there may be more need to request amendments. If counsel agree to changes that do not affect the court (for example, they agree to take depositions two weeks before trial), the parties must assume that if the agreement is breached by one of the parties, the court will refuse to enforce the agreement and will look askance at counsel willing to act inconsistently with the case management order.

Richard P. Holme is senior of counsel in the Trial Group at Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP. He is a member of the Colorado Supreme Court Standing Committee on Civil Rules and was chair of its Improving Access to Justice Subcommittee, which drafted the proposed changes—(303) 892-7340, richard.holme@dgslaw.com. He has also been a member of the ACTL Joint Task Force since 2010, and was involved in the latter stages of the Joint Project of the ACTL and the IAALS. This article expresses the author’s views and does not endeavor to represent all the views of the Civil Rules Committee or the Supreme Court.

The opinions and views expressed by Featured Bloggers on CBA-CLE Legal Connection do not necessarily represent the opinions and views of the Colorado Bar Association, the Denver Bar Association, or CBA-CLE, and should not be construed as such.

NOTES

[1] See CRCP 1(b).

[2] The Subcommittee members included Rules Committee members: Court of Appeals Judge Michael H. Berger (Committee Chair); Richard P. Holme (Subcommittee Chair); David R. DeMuro; Judge Lisa Hamilton-Fieldman; Judge Ann B. Frick; Thomas K. Kane; Richard W. Laugesen; David C. Little; Professor Christopher B. Mueller; Teresa T. Tate; Judge John R. Webb; and Judge Christopher C. Zenisek. Outside members of the subcommittee were Judge Herbert L. Stern, III; Judge E. Eric Elliff; Gordon (Skip) W. Netzorg; and John R. Rodman.

[3] See Holme, “Proposed New Pretrial Rules for Civil Cases—Part I: A New Paradigm,” 43 The Colorado Lawyer 43 (April 2015), www.cobar.org/tcl/tcl_articles.cfm?articleid=8860.

[4] See id. at 46-47. Following publication of Part I: A New Paradigm, on April 29, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court approved the amendments and submitted them to Congress, which could change them, but has only done so on one prior occasion. See online.iaals.du.edu/2015/05/04/supreme-court-adopts-amendments-to-the-federal-rules-of-civil-procedure.

[5] See Holme supra note 3 at 47-48 (description of CAPP).

[6] The Denver Superior Court was a civil court with a jurisdictional limit of $5,000. It was abolished in 1986.

[7] Memorandum from Judge David Campbell to Judge Jeffrey Sutton re Proposed Amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure B-2 (June 14, 2014), available from the author.

[8] Id. at B-2 to B-3.

[9] Holme, supra note 3 at 48.

[10] American College of Trial Lawyers/Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (ACTL/IAALS), “Working Smarter Not Harder: How Excellent Judges Manage Cases” (2014) (“Working Smarter”), iaals.du.edu/images/wygwam/documents/publications/Working_Smarter_Not_Harder.pdf.

[11] See, e.g., id. at Appendix D.

[12] Rule 16(b) and 16(d)(1).

[13] See ACTL/IAALS, supra note 10 at 7.

[14] Pilot Project Rule (PPR) 7.1.

[15] PPR 7.1 to 7.2.

[16] PPR 8.1 to 8.4.

[17] PPR 8.5.

[18] See Gerety and Cornett, “IAALS, Momentum for Change: The Impact of the Colorado Civil Access Pilot Project” (Oct. 2014) (CAPP Final Report), iaals.du.edu/images/wygwam/documents/publications/Momentum_for_Change_CAPP_Final_Report.pdf. The CAPP Final Report was preceded by a preliminary report: Gerety and Cornett, “IAALS, Preliminary Findings on the Colorado Civil Access Pilot Project” (April 2014), iaals.du.edu/images/wygwam/documents/publications/Preliminary_Findings_on_CAPP.pdf.

[19] CAPP Final Report, supra note 18 at 23.

[20] Id. at 24.

[21] PPR 7.1 to 7.2; and PPR Appendix B.

[22] See Holme, “‘No Written Discovery Motions’ Technique Reduces Delays, Costs, and Judges’ Workloads,” 42 The Colorado Lawyer 65 (March 2013), www.cobar.org/tcl/tcl_articles.cfm?articleid=7995. See also ACTL/IAALS, supra note 10 at 21-22.

[23] See, e.g., FRCP 26(f)(3)(C); Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC, 217 FRD 309 (S.D.N.Y. 2003); U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, “Guidelines for Cases Involving Electronically Stored Information,” www.ksd.uscourts.gov/guidelines-for-esi.

[24] ACTL/IAALS, “Final Report on the Joint Project of the American College of Trial Lawyers Task Force on Discovery and the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System” 2 (rev. ed., 2009), iaals.du.edu/images/wygwam/documents/publications/ACTL-IAALS_Final_Report_rev_8-4-10.pdf.

[25] See ACTL/IAALS supra note 10 at 10-20.

[26] 2014 Rules Report at 19 (May 2014), available from the author.

[27] Id.

[28] See, e.g., 2015 Comment to CRCP 16(d). See also ACTL/IAALS, supra note 10 at 10-20 and Appendix D; Prince, “A New Model for Civil Case Management: Efficiency Through Intrinsic Engagement,” 5 Court Review 174, 189-92 (2014).

Tenth Circuit: CEA Allows Nationwide Service of Process for Receivers Pursuing Receivership Property

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Klein v. Cornelius on Wednesday, May 27, 2015.

R. Wayne Klein was appointed receiver of Winsome Investment Trust, a business entity whose founder, Robert J. Andres, caused it to illegally distribute funds as part of a Ponzi scheme. William Cornelius and his Houston law firm, Cornelius & Salhab, received some of the illegally obtained funds as payment for a New Hampshire criminal defense representation of one of Andres’ friends. Klein, as receiver, brought suit against Cornelius in Utah federal court to void the fraudulent transfer to Cornelius for approximately $90,000 in legal fees. The Utah court granted summary judgment to Klein, and Cornelius appealed, raising several points of error.

The Tenth Circuit first addressed Cornelius’ three jurisdictional challenges. Cornelius first argued the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) does not authorize a receiver to bring state fraudulent transfer claims in federal court against a third-party recipient of Ponzi scheme funds. The Tenth Circuit found that the CEA authorizes the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to bring civil actions in federal court to enjoin violations of the CEA, and does not prohibit a receiver from pursuing state law claims in federal court. The Tenth Circuit concluded the district court had subject matter jurisdiction to resolve Klein’s Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (UFTA) claims on Winsome’s behalf.

Cornelius next challenged standing, arguing Klein lacked standing to bring a UFTA claim because Winsome itself could not bring such a claim. Cornelius reasoned that because Winsome was unincorporated and under Andres’ control, it was an alter ego for Andres and therefore had no authority to sue in its own right. Although he conceded Klein could sue as a receiver for Andres, the Tenth Circuit disagreed with Cornelius’ contention that Winsome could not sue in its own right. The Tenth Circuit found that as a business entity abused as part of a Ponzi scheme, Winsome became a defrauded creditor. The Tenth Circuit found that Winsome was its own entity under Utah law and therefore Klein had standing to pursue the UFTA claim.

Cornelius also argued the district court lacked personal jurisdiction because he did not have sufficient contacts with Utah and because he was not properly served with a complaint. The Tenth Circuit first found the CEA allowed nationwide service of process for receivers pursuing receivership property. The Tenth Circuit next looked at Cornelius’ argument that he had minimum contacts with Utah, and found that in federal question cases where nationwide service of process invokes jurisdiction, the defendant must establish that the chosen forum burdens the defendant with “constitutionally significant inconvenience.” Because Cornelius made no jurisdiction arguments other than the minimum contact argument, the Tenth Circuit found no error in the district court’s determination that it had jurisdiction. Cornelius also argued that in personam jurisdiction was inappropriate and only in rem jurisdiction would apply, but the Tenth Circuit disagreed, finding personal jurisdiction applied under the particular statutory scheme.

Next, Cornelius argued three points of error regarding the district court’s application of UFTA: (1) Texas law applies, (2) the transfer was not fraudulent, and (3) regardless, Klein’s claim is barred by the statute of limitations. The Tenth Circuit addressed each argument in turn. Because the relevant provisions of Texas law use the same language as Utah, the Tenth Circuit found Cornelius’ first argument of no practical significance. Next, the Tenth Circuit found that because Ponzi schemes are inherently insolvent, there is a presumption that transfers from such entities involve an intent to defraud. Cornelius argued that neither he nor the criminal defendant he represented knew of the Ponzi scheme, but the Tenth Circuit noted that nothing in the UFTA requires a transferee to have knowledge of the fraud. The Tenth Circuit also declined to adopt Cornelius’ assertion that he provided “reasonably equivalent value” for his payment, noting that his legal services conferred no benefit on Winsome and the payments to Cornelius only served to diminish its net worth.

Finally, the Tenth Circuit addressed the statute of limitations argument. Claims alleging actual intent to defraud under the UFTA must be brought within four years of when the transfer was made or one year after the transfer could reasonably have been discovered. Klein brought suit against Cornelius in December 2011. The payments to Cornelius for his legal services were made between September 2006 and July 2007, and Cornelius argued the suit was untimely because it was brought well after the four year statute of limitations had expired. However, Klein was appointed as receiver in January 2011, and he could not have reasonably discovered the fraud until his appointment. The Tenth Circuit found the claim was timely since it was brought within one year of Klein’s appointment as receiver.

The district court’s grant of summary judgment to Klein was affirmed.

Tenth Circuit: Refusal to Pay Arbitration Fees Justified District Court’s Removal of Stay

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. v. Cahill on Tuesday, May 26, 2015.

Todd Cahill was a former sales associate for Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc., who agreed not to solicit or recruit other Pre-Paid sales associates during his employment or for two years after termination. Cahill left Pre-Paid to join another marketing company, and Pre-Paid contended he misused trade secret information and solicited other Pre-Paid employees for work at his new company. Pre-Paid brought suit in Oklahoma state court, and Cahill removed the action to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, claiming diversity jurisdiction. Cahill then moved to stay the proceedings pending arbitration, which motion was granted. Pre-Paid initiated arbitration proceedings before the American Arbitration Association (AAA). Pre-Paid paid its share of arbitration fees but Cahill did not. Cahill received repeated warnings from the Director of ADR Services at the AAA that arbitration would be suspended and terminated if he failed to pay, but neither paid his fees nor requested other relief. Eventually, the Director terminated arbitration. Pre-Paid petitioned the district court to remove the stay, and the district court granted the motion.

Cahill appealed the lifting of the stay, arguing the Tenth Circuit had jurisdiction under 9 U.S.C. § 16(a)(1)(A). Pre-Paid moved to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, and, if the Tenth Circuit found it had jurisdiction, urged the court to affirm the lifting of the stay.

The Tenth Circuit first analyzed its jurisdiction. Although it generally does not have jurisdiction to review non-final orders, the Federal Arbitration Act provides an exception for orders that refuse to stay proceedings pending arbitration. The Circuit found that the order lifting the stay was essentially an order “refusing a stay,” since the district court declined to continue enforcing the stay after arbitration proceedings were terminated. The Tenth Circuit declined to draw a distinction between a district court refusing to apply a stay and a court refusing to continue a stay once arbitration failed. The Circuit likewise found that Cahill’s request to continue the stay was initiated under § 3 of the FAA.

Turning to the merits of the appeal, the Tenth Circuit found the district court properly lifted the stay. The Circuit found that arbitration had “been had in accordance with the terms of the agreement” because the arbitration clause in Cahill’s employment agreement required the parties to pay their share of fees in accordance with AAA rules. Since Cahill failed to pay his fees and the Director terminated the arbitration proceedings, the Tenth Circuit found arbitration had “been had” pursuant to § 3. Similarly, the Tenth Circuit found support for the district court’s actions under § 3’s language regarding default. There was no dispute regarding Cahill’s failure to pay the arbitration fees. Cahill never asserted an inability to pay, nor did he ask for a modified payment schedule or request for Pre-Paid to pay his arbitration fees. Instead, he allowed arbitration to terminate by refusing to pay the fees. The Tenth Circuit found this failure to pay constituted “default” under § 3. Cahill contended the arbitrators were the correct party to determine default, but the Circuit disagreed, finding the district court’s decision to remove the stay appropriate in light of Cahill’s refusal to pay fees. Even assuming the default decision was left to the arbitrators, the Tenth Circuit found that the arbitrators determined Cahill was in default by refusing to pay the fees.

The Tenth Circuit found it had jurisdiction to hear the appeal and affirmed the district court’s lifting of the stay.

Tenth Circuit: Insurer Who Failed to Reserve Rights Responsible for Default Judgment

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Cornhusker Casualty Co. v. Skaj on Monday, May 18, 2015.

Vincent Rosty, an employee of R&R Roofing, Inc., drove a company dump truck to the home of Shari Skaj, his ex, to drop off roofing supplies and see if his kids were there. At some point after Vincent stopped in an alley behind the Skaj residence, the truck was accidentally knocked into second gear and rolled forward, pinning Ms. Skaj against a parked motor home and causing serious injuries. A lab test performed later in the day confirmed the presence of marijuana and methamphetamine in Vincent’s bloodstream.

Cornhusker Casualty provided commercial liability insurance to R&R at the time of the accident, and R&R and Randy Rosty (0wner of R&R, along with Steven Rosty) were the named insureds. Within days of the accident, Cornhusker hired AmeriClaim adjuster Charles Brando to investigate the incident. Brando’s report noted that Vincent had driven off-route on personal business despite an unwritten company policy prohibiting personal use of company vehicles.

After receiving notice of Ms. Skaj’s forthcoming claim, Cornhusker wrote to R&R, Steven Rosty, and Vincent to notify them of potential excess liability exposure and to inform them of the right to retain independent counsel. Cornhusker specifically stated it would continue to defend the claim. The Skajs filed suit in Wyoming county court, asserting several claims based on negligence and requesting punitive damages since Vincent was intoxicated at the time of the accident. Cornhusker’s counsel filed an answer to the complaint as to Steven and R&R only, asserting she did not represent Vincent. Cornhusker determined Vincent was not entitled to a defense. However, Cornhusker did not attempt to inform Vincent it was no longer defending him. Default issued against Vincent, the non-defaulting defendants were dismissed, and eventually the Wyoming trial court set a default judgment hearing. Cornhusker hired separate representation for Vincent for that hearing, who opposed the default judgment, and after the hearing default entered against Vincent for $897,344.24.

One week after the default judgment hearing, Cornhusker sent Vincent a letter purporting to deny coverage for the first time. In support of its coverage denial, Cornhusker stated Vincent was not a permissive user of the truck, was not acting within the course and scope of his employment with R&R, was intoxicated, and had misappropriated roofing materials from R&R, also stating he had not cooperated with Cornhusker during the Skajs’ lawsuit. Shortly after, Cornhusker sent another letter to Vincent, characterizing its representation of him at the default judgment hearing as “pursuant to a reservation of rights” and for the limited purpose of having the default set aside. Meanwhile, Vincent’s counsel appealed the default, and eventually the Wyoming Supreme Court affirmed the judgment except insofar as it awarded punitive damages. Cornhusker refused to pay, maintaining Vincent was not covered by the policy.

Cornhusker filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming, seeking a declaration that the policy did not provide coverage for Vincent because he was not an insured and had not cooperated in the investigation. Vincent counterclaimed against Cornhusker, asserting theories of negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, promissory estoppel, and breach of contract. The Skajs also counterclaimed, seeking a declaration that Cornhusker was required to pay the judgment in the underlying action and seeking attorney fees based on Cornhusker’s refusal to pay. Vincent and the Skajs jointly counterclaimed that Cornhusker should be estopped from asserting the defense of noncoverage because of its unconditional defense of Vincent in the underlying action. All parties filed motions for summary judgment. After a hearing, the district court declared Cornhusker was estopped from denying coverage to Vincent because it represented it would provide a defense, never reserved its rights, and did not advise Vincent of its decision to deny coverage until more than 16 months after entry of default. The court granted summary judgment to Cornhusker on Vincent’s various claims and denied the Skajs’ motion for attorney fees. The district court ordered Cornhusker to pay the full amount of the default judgment. Cornhusker appealed the district court’s finding of estoppel. The Skajs cross-appealed the court’s denial of their attorney fees. Vincent also appealed, seeking reversal on his bad faith and punitive damages claims.

After quickly dismissing Cornhusker’s standing argument, the Tenth Circuit evaluated the estoppel claim. Prior circuit precedent established estoppel where an insurer defended a claim without reserving its rights. Although the question had not been reached in Wyoming, the Tenth Circuit construed Wyoming law and determined the insurer must accept the consequences of its decision to assume full control of the litigation without a reservation of rights, because the insured was induced to relinquish control of the defense. In this case, Cornhusker never explicitly reserved its rights as to Vincent. Even Vincent’s counsel “found it odd” that Cornhusker would take the approach of providing a full defense to Vincent without a reservation of rights, but the Tenth Circuit found that since that was the path Cornhusker chose, it should face the consequences of its action and pay the judgment. The Tenth Circuit found no error in the district court’s order for Cornhusker to pay the default judgment.

Next, the Tenth Circuit considered Vincent’s bad faith and punitive damages claims. Vincent characterized the bad faith as Cornhusker’s retention of counsel who refused to defend him and allowed entry of default against him. However, the Tenth Circuit found neither substantive nor procedural bad faith in Cornhusker’s conduct. Because Cornhusker had a reasonable basis for its denial, there was no substantive bad faith. And, because Cornhusker did not fail to investigate the claim, there was no procedural bad faith, and certainly not enough to satisfy Wyoming’s “high bar” for conduct constituting procedural bad faith. The Tenth Circuit similarly disposed of the punitive damages claim since it was based on the same conduct as the bad faith claim. Finding that punitive damages are only to be awarded for conduct so egregious it is nearly criminal, the Tenth Circuit could discern no such conduct here.

The Tenth Circuit then turned to the Skajs’ counterclaim for attorney fees. The district court had determined that Wyoming’s “unreasonable or without cause” standard for refusal to pay losses covered by insurance was so similar to the standard for bad faith that the same analysis applied. The Tenth Circuit found no error in the district court’s finding and affirmed its denial of attorney fees. Although the Skajs sought to introduce supplemental material to the Tenth Circuit to bolster their attorney fee claim, the Tenth Circuit denied the motion, finding the Skajs could have introduced the evidence in district court but failed to do so. Likewise, Cornhusker’s motion to seal the Skajs’ supplemental index was denied as moot.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court in full, denied the Skajs’ motion to file a supplemental index, and denied as moot Cornhusker’s motion to seal the supplemental index.

Colorado’s Lawful Activities Statute Does Not Protect Employees’ Medical Marijuana Use

Lipinsky-PrattBy Lino Lipinsky and Joel Pratt

On June 15, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in Coats v. Dish Network, LLC, No. 13SC394, 2015 CO 44 (2015), that employers with a drug-free workplace policy have the right to take adverse action against employees who test positive for marijuana, even if the employees fully comply with the state’s medical marijuana laws, do not use marijuana at the workplace, and are not impaired on the job. This landmark decision affirms the right of employers to require that their employees comply with all federal drug laws, regardless of their states’ marijuana laws.

The plaintiff, Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic as a result of an automobile accident, failed a random drug test required by his employer, Dish Network. Mr. Coats argued that his use of medical marijuana was the only means by which he could control his leg spasms. Dish Network did not contest that Mr. Coats had no work-related problems other than the failed drug test. There was no dispute that Mr. Coats used marijuana only at home and had a valid Colorado medical marijuana card.

The court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the Colorado lawful off-duty activities statute, Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-34-402.5, protected his use of medical marijuana at home. That statute bars employers from taking adverse employment action against employers for “lawful” activities conducted away from work.

The Colorado Supreme Court narrowly focused on the definition of “lawful” in the statute and declined to reach any other issue. Mr. Coats’s attorney argued that the definition encompasses activities legal under state law, regardless of their status under federal law. Dish Network disagreed, arguing that the word “lawful” referred to activities legal under both state and federal law.

A unanimous court, with Justice Márquez not participating, agreed with Dish Network. The court held that the word “lawful” should be interpreted according to its generally accepted meaning, and that the Colorado legislature included no language indicating that the word should refer to state law alone. Colorado’s lawful activities statute thus only protects employees engaged in activities that are legal under both state and federal law.

Because the federal Controlled Substances Act lists marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance and prohibits its possession, manufacture, sale, or use, medical marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Accordingly, Colorado’s lawful activities statute does not protect an employee using medical marijuana because such use is prohibited by federal law.

The trial court dismissed Mr. Coats’s claim against Dish Network. A split panel of the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision, holding that Colorado’s lawful activities statute incorporated both state and federal law, and therefore, does not protect activity illegal under federal law. Judge Webb dissented, arguing that the reach of “lawful activities” should be determined exclusively by state law, under which marijuana use is considered lawful. The supreme court affirmed the court of appeals’ ruling.

The Coats decision reaffirms the right of employers to manage and to enforce drug-free workplaces. Employers will not have to make individualized decisions about whether a particular employee’s marijuana use is “lawful” under state law for bona fide medicinal purposes; instead, employers can institute and enforce broad drug-free workplace policies.

Further, the Coats decision avoids potential problems with the conflict between state and federal law. Colorado employers who contract with the federal government generally must comply with the federal Drug-Free Workplaces Act, which requires drug-free workplaces. Similarly, employers engaged in the transportation industry may be required to comply with the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991, which mandates drug testing of certain transportation workers.

Had the court ruled in favor of Mr. Coats, employers subject to federal drug-free workplace regulations would have faced conflicting obligations. Colorado law would have demanded that employers tolerate certain employee drug use, while federal law would have demanded that employers take action against those same employees. The court avoided that problem by clarifying that Colorado law only protects employees engaged in activities that are lawful under state and federal law.

Employers also need to recognize the limits of this decision. Importantly, the court did not hold that employers have unfettered rights to fire or to discipline employees for the use of marijuana. Employers must still follow the law. Dish Network likely prevailed because it had adopted a clear and broad drug-free workplace policy, engaged in random drug testing, and applied its policies neutrally. An employer that selectively applies a policy could be vulnerable to discrimination claims.

Additionally, the Coats decision does not resolve the preemption issues surrounding Colorado’s medical and recreational marijuana amendments. A number of other pending cases, including Nebraska’s and Oklahoma’s challenge to Colorado’s marijuana laws filed in the U.S. Supreme Court, raise the preemption issue head-

Lino Lipinsky de Orlov is a litigation partner in the Denver office of McKenna Long & Aldridge, LLP.  He represents clients in all aspects of commercial litigation, mediation, arbitration, and appeals.  He has developed particular experience in complex business cases, particularly those involving creditor’s rights, real estate, trade secrets, and employment disputes.  Mr. Lipinsky also frequently speaks and writes on legal issues relating to technology, employment law, and ethics.   He is a member of the Colorado Bar Association’s Board of Governors and serves on the Board of the Colorado Judicial Institute.  He is a former President of the Faculty of Federal Advocates.  Among his honors, Chambers USA has recognized Mr. Lipinsky as one of Colorado’s leading general commercial litigators, and he has been included in The Best Lawyers in America.  He received his A.B. degree, magna cum laude, from Brown University and his J.D. degree from New York University School of Law, where he was a member of the New York University Law Review.

Joel M. Pratt is a member of McKenna Long & Aldridge’s Government Contracts Department in the Denver office. Mr. Pratt graduated, magna cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School in 2014 where he served on the Michigan Law Review as the Executive Notes Editor and an Associate Editor. While earning his J.D., Mr. Pratt served as a judicial intern for the Honorable Alan M. Loeb, was a student attorney for the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Project and the Child Advocacy Law Clinic, and published several articles in legal academic journals across the country. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Pratt worked as a law clerk for the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel of the University of Michigan. Mr. Pratt graduated with distinction in 2009 from the University of Colorado with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature.  Mr. Pratt was also the winner of the University of Colorado Alumni Association Scholarship.

The opinions and views expressed by Featured Bloggers on CBA-CLE Legal Connection do not necessarily represent the opinions and views of the Colorado Bar Association, the Denver Bar Association, or CBA-CLE, and should not be construed as such.

Tenth Circuit: Settlement Fair Because it Incentivized Western Union to Change its Business Practices

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Tennille v. Western Union Co. on Friday, May 1, 2015.

Western Union was the subject of a class action lawsuit challenging its practice of holding and earning interest on customers’ money after failed wire transfers without notifying customers of the failure. While an interlocutory appeal from Western Union was pending, Western Union and the class representatives reached a settlement, agreeing that Western Union would change its business practices to notify customers when wire transfers failed, would help customers whose unclaimed money had escheated to the state to reclaim their money, and would pay interest for the time Western Union held the funds before the escheat. The settlement will be funded using approximately $135 million in customers’ unclaimed funds still held by Western Union, and the funds will be distributed as follows: (1) a $7,500 incentive award to each of the four named plaintiffs; (2) interest to the customers who have already claimed their money from Western Union for the time period from the transfer’s failure to the customer’s claim, minus Western Union’s administrative fees; (3) the unclaimed money plus interest to the customers whose money Western Union still holds, minus Western Union’s administrative fees; (4) the costs of administering the settlement; and (5) 30 percent of the settlement award to class counsel as attorney fees.

Because the settlement was reached during the pendency of the interlocutory appeal, the Tenth Circuit remanded to the district court to consider whether to certify the class and approve the settlement. The district court preliminarily certified the class and approved the settlement, directing that notice be sent to the approximately 1.3 million putative class members. A dozen class members objected to the settlement, including Sikora Nelson (represented by counsel) and Paul Dorsey (pro se). The district court held a “fairness hearing” and eventually overruled all the objections, entered a final class certification, approved the settlement, and entered judgment. Objectors posted bond after it was reduced by the Tenth Circuit and appealed.

The named plaintiffs argued the objectors lacked standing to pursue the appeal, but the Tenth Circuit disagreed, finding Article III standing as to all class members. Plaintiffs also argued the objectors were raising arguments that were not properly preserved below, but the Tenth Circuit again disagreed, noting it has wide discretion to consider all arguments on appeal and the arguments were raised in some form in the lower court proceedings.

Objectors first contended the district court erred in certifying the class because the named plaintiffs could not fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class as a whole, and the district court should have created subclasses to adequately address the needs of all class members. Objector Nelson first argued that because the named plaintiffs had arbitration clauses in their agreements with Western Union and not all class members had arbitration provisions, including Nelson, the plaintiffs could not adequately protect the other class members’ interests. The Tenth Circuit noted that at the time the class was certified the district court had already ruled the arbitration provisions were unenforceable. Nelson argued she, and other similarly situated class members, could have negotiated a much better settlement than the named plaintiffs, but the Tenth Circuit disagreed, finding Nelson had agreed not to initiate any class actions in her contract.

Next, Nelson argued that because she was a Michigan resident and a Michigan statute allowed treble damages for such failed wire transactions, the named plaintiffs could not adequately represent her interest or the interest of other Michigan residents. However, because the district court had already ruled that Colorado law governed the claims, the Tenth Circuit found this argument unavailing. Nelson also argued that because the plaintiffs had already reclaimed their money from Western Union while she and other class members had not, plaintiffs were not similarly situated. The Tenth Circuit noted that Western Union’s challenged conduct was the same as to all class members, and the difference was not enough to preclude plaintiffs from representing the class.

Nelson also challenged the district court’s approval of the settlement, contending it was unfair because absent class members will finance most of the settlement for the entire class. Although the Tenth Circuit was “not unsympathetic to Nelson’s argument,” it determined them to be ultimately unpersuasive, since Nelson and others who had not already claimed their money would not have known about it absent the settlement agreement, and because the settlement agreement incentivized Western Union to change its business practices. Although there is a possibility that the settlement funds will run out before all class members have received their share, that possibility is unlikely to be realized based on historical data indicating that only 15 percent of Western Union’s customers ever seek a refund of their money.

The Tenth Circuit next addressed Nelson’s procedural challenge to the Rule 23 notice, finding the given notice satisfied due process by identifying several ways they could obtain additional information about the claims they would be releasing if they joined the settlement. Objector Dorsey also challenged how the notice was given to class members, arguing Western Union should have cross-checked all its databases instead of mailing to the last known address of class members. The named plaintiffs assert that Western Union did cross-check its databases, and also the class administrator used the post office’s change of address database to update the addresses. The Tenth Circuit found the mailed notice sufficient. Dorsey also speculated that those plaintiffs whose transactions were “zeroed out” by administrative fees may not have received notice, but the Tenth Circuit found that in fact all class members were notified. The Tenth Circuit similarly found a typo in the notice insignificant, given the corrective measures taken on the class action website. Dorsey finally argued that because he did not receive the email notice, despite having a current email address on file with Western Union, there must have been something wrong with the email notice. The Tenth Circuit disagreed.

Finally, Dorsey and Nelson argued the district court failed to exercise its independent judgment by adopting verbatim the orders drafted by plaintiffs and Western Union in certifying the class and approving the settlement. The Tenth Circuit was satisfied that the court exercised independent judgment. Objectors also claim the district court did not address their objections, but the Tenth Circuit found that it did, albeit briefly.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order certifying the class and approving the settlement.

Tenth Circuit: “Reverse Preemption” Deprived District Court and Tenth Circuit of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Western Insurance Co. v. A & H Insurance Inc. on Friday, April 24, 2015.

Western Insurance is insolvent and being liquidated in Utah state court. The liquidator brought suit against several of Western’s “affiliates” to recover funds Western had transferred to them. The defendants removed the ancillary proceeding to federal court under diversity jurisdiction, and the liquidator sought a remand, which the district court granted. Defendants appealed.

Because insolvent insurers are exempt from federal bankruptcy protection, state law governs insurer insolvency proceedings. After the defendants removed the case to federal court, liquidators argued the McCarran-Ferguson Act barred removal, as it is essentially a “reverse preemption” doctrine. The district court remanded “for the reasons stated on the record.”

The Tenth Circuit first evaluated its jurisdiction and found it could only proceed to entertain the appeal if the remand order was not based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In its order, the district court made several contradictory statements regarding its rationale for remand, leaving it unclear whether it relied on the McCarran-Ferguson Act’s “reverse preemption” in its remand order. However, the Tenth Circuit found that the bulk of the district court’s decision focused on the McCarran-Ferguson Act. Because the district court’s remand was based to a fair degree on lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the Tenth Circuit found it lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal.

The appeal was dismissed.

Colorado Supreme Court: Lawful Off-Duty Activities Not Limited to State Law

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Coats v. Dish Network, LLC on Monday, June 15, 2015.

Labor and Employment—Protected Activities.

The Supreme Court held that under the plain language of CRS § 24-34-402.5, Colorado’s lawful activities statute, the term “lawful” refers only to those activities that are lawful under both state and federal law. Therefore, employees who engage in an activity that is permitted by state law but unlawful under federal law, such as use of medical marijuana, are not protected by the statute. The Court therefore affirmed the court of appeals’ opinion.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: FDIC Exclusively Holds Claims Against Failed Bank’s Holding Company

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Barnes v. Harris on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

The Barnes Banking Company (“bank”) began engaging in risky lending practices in the 2000s, leading to its ultimate demise in January 2010. The FDIC was appointed as receiver. In January 2012, J. Canute Barnes filed a derivative shareholder complaint in Utah state court against Barnes Bancorporation (“holding company”), parent of the bank, alleging breach of fiduciary duty. Attached to the Utah complaint was a demand letter alleging the bank was the holding company’s sole asset. The initial complaint stated the defendants were sued in their capacity as officers and directors of the holding company and not the bank. The FDIC filed a motion to intervene in state court, arguing it possessed sole statutory authority under FIRREA to assert the derivative claims at issue. The FDIC then removed the case to federal court.

The district court granted a motion to amend the complaint to include two additional shareholders, W. King Barnes and Robert Jones. Plaintiffs filed a motion to remand to state court, arguing the FDIC was not a party to the case because it had not filed a pleading, which motion was denied. Plaintiffs then moved to dismiss the FDIC for failure to state a claim. The FDIC filed its own motion to dismiss, and defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings. The district court denied plaintiffs’ motion to dismiss, granted in part the motions filed by defendants and the FDIC, and dismissed most of plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice while allowing some to be re-pled. Plaintiffs’ second amended complaint attempted to re-describe the bank as the holding company’s “primary asset,” but the focus of the complaint was still the harm suffered by the bank’s failure. The second amended complaint also alleged the bank received a $9 million tax return, which should have been in part distributed to the holding company, and that the holding company misused $265,000 by paying insurance premiums and retaining counsel. Both FDIC and defendants moved to dismiss the second complaint, which the district court granted. Plaintiffs appealed.

The Tenth Circuit first considered the district court’s jurisdiction. Through FIRREA, the FDIC is deemed a party, and the case is deemed to arise under federal law. The district court therefore had jurisdiction to hear the complaints. Plaintiffs argue the FDIC lacked jurisdiction because it never filed a pleading. The Tenth Circuit found the case on which plaintiffs relied inapposite to that assertion. Because FDIC was permitted to intervene in state court, it became a party to the proceeding, and jurisdiction was exclusive in the district court under FIRREA.

The Tenth Circuit proceeded to examine the merits. Once the FDIC is appointed as a receiver, FIRREA grants it all rights, powers, and privileges of the bank with respect to the assets of the bank, including those of the holding company. The question of whether FIRREA applies to cases in which a breach of fiduciary duty suit is brought against a bank holding company’s officers after the bank has gone into receivership was one of first impression in the Tenth Circuit. The Tenth Circuit examined similar cases from other jurisdictions, as well as Utah corporate law, and determined that FIRREA applies. The majority of plaintiffs’ claims were derivative, reaching the holding company only because of the harms of the bank. Those claims belong to the FDIC.

The Tenth Circuit found similarly that the $9 million tax return belonged exclusively to the bank and therefore the FDIC was the only party entitled to the return. The tax refund due from a joint return generally belongs to the company responsible for the losses that formed the basis for the return, and due to the receivership, the entire refund belongs to the FDIC.

Finally, the Tenth Circuit addressed the claims that the holding company misused $265,000 by using the funds to pay insurance premiums and legal fees. The Tenth Circuit, like the district court, found these claims inadequately pleaded. Plaintiffs were in a privileged position and could have examined the holding company’s records to find support for their claims. Plaintiffs further failed to explain how the expenditures constituted an actionable wrong. The Tenth Circuit upheld the district court’s dismissal of this claim.

Expressing sympathy for the plaintiffs’ position, the Tenth Circuit recognized the broad scope of the FDIC’s authority in dealing with the aftermath of a bank failure, and admonished bank holding company shareholders to take action prior to the bank’s collapse to stave off the collapse and protect their assets. The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Partial Subordination Approach to Lien Priority Best Reflects Colorado Law

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Tomar Development, Inc. v. Friend on Thursday, June 4, 2015.

Lien—Subordination Agreement—Partial Subordination Approach.

The Friend family sold its ranch to Friend Ranch Investors Group (FRIG) to develop it into a resort-style golf course community. In 2010, FRIG conveyed the property to Mulligan, LLC, and at that time, the relevant order of priority was (1) Colorado Capital Bank’s (CCB) senior lien; (2) Tomar Development (Tomar); (3) the Damyanoviches; (4) the Friends; and (5) CCB’s junior lien. Bent Tree, Mulligan, and CCB then entered into a subordination agreement whereby CCB’s senior lien became subordinate to CCB’s junior lien. Neither Tomar, the Damyanoviches, nor the Friends was involved in or an intended beneficiary of the subordination agreement. CCB’s senior lien was never released. Bent Tree then foreclosed on CCB’s senior lien and, in November 2010, Bent Tree bought the property at a public trustee’s foreclosure sale for approximately $11,800. Tomar, the Friends, and the Damyanoviches filed claims, each of which sought declaratory judgments as to the priority of their interests, which were dismissed by the trial court under CRCP 12(b)(5).

On appeal, Tomar, the Friends, and the Damyanoviches argued that the trial court erred in applying the partial subordination approach to the subordination of liens. The partial subordination approach applies when the most senior lienholder (A) agrees to subordinate his interest to the most junior lienholder (C) without consulting the intermediary lienholders (B). Under this approach, when A subordinates to C, C becomes the most senior lienholder, but only to the extent of A’s original lien. Under this partial subordination approach, B is not affected by the agreement between A and C, to which it was not privy. Colorado adopts the partial subordination approach, and it was properly applied in this case. Accordingly, the trial court did not err in dismissing Tomar’s, the Damyanoviches’, and the Friends’ claims seeking a declaratory judgment that each of their interests was senior to all other interests.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Final Bills of 2015 Legislative Session Signed; Three Sent to Secretary of State Without Signature

CapitolbuildingOn Friday, June 5, 2015, Governor Hickenlooper signed 60 bills into law and allowed three bills to become law without a signature. To date, Governor Hickenlooper has signed 362 bills into law, vetoed three bills, and allowed three to become law without a signature. The bills signed Friday are summarized here.

  • SB 15-011 – Concerning the Pilot Program for Persons with Spinal Cord Injuries Relating to the Use of Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Nancy Todd and Rep. Dianne Primavera. The bill continues the Medicaid Spinal Cord Injury Alternative Medicine Pilot Program and expands the program so it can serve additional clients.
  • SB 15-090Concerning the Adoption of Standards Governing Temporary Permits on Motor Vehicles for Effective Readability, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Nancy Todd and Rep. Max Tyler. The bill requires that temporary motor vehicle plates meet the same requirements regarding readability as permanent plates.
  • HB 15-1310 – Concerning the Authority of the Division of Parks and Wildlife to Acquire Real Property for their Garfield County Administrative Office and Public Service Center, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Rep. Bob Rankin and Sen. Randy Baumgardner. The bill allows the Division of Parks and Wildlife to purchase a specific property in Garfield County.
  • HB 15-1318 – Concerning the Requirements for Administering a Single Medicaid Waiver for Home- and Community-Based Services for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Rep. Dave Young and Sen. Kevin Grantham. The bill requires the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to consolidate two waiver programs for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • HB 15-1252 – Concerning an Extension of the Number of Years the Individual Income Tax Return Includes a Voluntary Contribution Designation for the Colorado Healthy Rivers Fund, by Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush and Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg. The bill extends the voluntary check-box contribution for the Colorado Healthy Rivers Fund until 2020.
  • HB 15-1166 – Concerning the Creation of a Tributary Groundwater Monitoring Network in the South Platte River Alluvial Aquifer, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Reps. Lori Saine & Jeni James Arndt and Sen. Vicki Marble. The bill creates a basin-wide tributary groundwater monitoring network in the South Platte River alluvial aquifer based on recommendations from a CWCB report.
  • HB 15-1283 – Concerning Marijuana Testing, and, in Connection Therewith, Creating a Reference Lab by December 31, 2015, that will House a Library of Testing Methodologies and Making an Appropriation, by Rep. Steve Lebsock and Sen. Chris Holbert. The bill requires the Department of Public Health and Environment to develop and maintain a marijuana laboratory testing reference library.
  • HB 15-1368 – Concerning the Creation of a Cross-System Response for Behavioral Health Crises Pilot Program to Serve Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Rep. Dave Young and Sen. Kevin Grantham. The bill creates a pilot program to support collaborative approaches for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities and a mental health or behavioral disorder.
  • HB 15-1247 – Concerning the Implementation of the Legislative Audit Committee’s Recommendations for Review of Dam Safety, by Rep. Lori Saine and Sen. Tim Neville. The bill increases the fees charged by the State Engineer for dam project design review.
  • HB 15-1248 – Concerning Limited Access by Private Child Placement Agencies to Records Relating to Child Abuse or Neglect for Purposes of Ensuring Safe Placements for Foster Children, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Rep. Jonathan Singer and Sen. Owen Hill. The bill permits one representative at each child placement agency to review records of potential foster parents for reports of abuse or neglect.
  • HB 15-1355 – Concerning Access to Personal Records Relating to a Person’s Family History, by Reps. Lori Saine & Jonathan Singer and Sens. Vicki Marble & Linda Newell. The bill allows an adult adoptee to access his or her birth certificate and that of his or her adult sibling in Colorado.
  • HB 15-1357 – Concerning the Establishment of the Ratio of Valuation for Assessment of Residential Real Property, by Reps. Lois Court & Brian DelGrosso and Sens. Tim Neville & Michael Johnston. The bill establishes the residential assessment rate for 2015-2016 and does not change it.
  • SB 15-020 – Concerning Education Regarding the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse and Assault, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Linda Newell and Rep. Beth McCann. The bill expands the duties of the School Safety Resource Center to include providing education and materials regarding awareness and prevention of child sexual assault.
  • SB 15-109 – Concerning the Mandatory Reporting of Mistreatment Against an Adult with a Disability, by Sen. Kevin Grantham and Rep. Dave Young. The bill expands the at-risk adult reporting requirements to include adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • SB 15-195 – Concerning Appropriating to the Department of Corrections Moneys Generated as Savings from the Awarding of Achievement Earned Time to Inmates, and, in Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing Appropriations, by Sen. Pat Steadman and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill limits the amount of earned time savings that may be used toward education and parole programs.
  • SB 15-196 – Concerning Measures to Ensure Industrial Hemp Remains Below a Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol Concentration of No More than Three-Tenths of One Percent on a Dry Weight Basis, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sens. Vicki Marble & Pat Steadman and Reps. Steve Lebsock & Lois Saine. The bill expands the industrial hemp committee and imposes new regulations on industrial hemp.
  • SB 15-220 – Concerning Security for the Colorado General Assembly, by Sens. Morgan Carroll & Bill Cadman and Reps. Crisanta Duran & Brian DelGrosso. The bill requires the Colorado State Patrol to provide protection for the members of the General Assembly.
  • SB 15-256 – Concerning the Operation of the Legislative Committee that Oversees the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Ellen Roberts and Rep. Beth McCann. The bill makes several changes to the Colorado health benefit exchange committee’s duties.
  • SB 15-115 – Concerning the Sunset Review of the Medical Marijuana Programs, by Sen. Owen Hill and Rep. Ellen Roberts. The bill continues the Medical Marijuana Code until 2019 and implements some changes to the program.
  • HB 15-1063 – Concerning Prohibited Communication Concerning Patents, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Rep. Dan Pabon and Sen. David Balmer. The bill establishes a framework for communications between parties regarding patent rights.
  • HB 15-1178 – Concerning the State Engineer’s Authority to Allow Well Users to Lower the Water Table in an Area that the State Engineer Determines is Experiencing Damaging High Groundwater Levels, and, in Connection Therewith, Establishing an Emergency Dewatering Grant Program for the Purpose of Lowering the Water Table in Areas of Gilcrest, Colorado, and Sterling, Colorado and Making an Appropriation, by Reps. Lori Saine & Stephen Humphrey and Sens. Vicki Marble & Jerry Sonnenberg. The bill establishes the Emergency Dewatering Grant Program for the emergency pumping of wells.
  • HB 15-1102 – Concerning the Expansion of the “Colorado Cottage Foods Act”, and, in Connection Therewith, Increasing the Food Products a Producer Can Sell Under the Act, Requiring an Additional Disclaimer, and Making an Appropriation, by Reps. Millie Hamner & Yeulin Willett and Sens. Kerry Donovan & Kevin Grantham. The bill divides the foods that can be produced under the Cottage Foods Act into two tiers.
  • SB 15-012 – Concerning the Treatment of Child Support for Purposes of the Colorado Works Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. John Kefalas and Rep. Brittany Pettersen. The bill allows the Department of Human Services to disregard child support income when determining eligibility for the TANF program.
  • HB 15-1219 – Concerning the Enterprise Zone Investment Tax Credit for Renewable Energy Products, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Reps. Beth McCann & Jon Becker and Sens. Mary Hodge & Jerry Sonnenberg. The bill allows a taxpayer who places a renewable energy product in an enterprise zone to receive a refund of the tax credit.
  • HB 15-1228 – Concerning the Special Fuel Excise Tax on Liquefied Petroleum Gas, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Reps. Diane Mitsch Bush & Jon Becker and Sen. Ray Scott. The bill makes several changes to the administration and collection of the special fuel excise tax program for liquefied petroleum.
  • HB 15-1350 – Concerning Performance Measures for Accrediting an Alternative Education Campus, by Rep. Brittany Pettersen and Sen. Owen Hill. The bill requires the Department of Education to convene stakeholder meetings to review statutes and rules related to performance indicators for the accreditation of alternative education campuses.
  • HB 15-1392 – Concerning Changes to the State’s Payroll System to Allow All State Employees to be Paid Twice a Month, by Reps. Dave Young & Jack Tate and Sens. Linda Newell & Tim Neville. The bill changes the pay schedule for all state employees to twice a month.
  • HB 15-1352 – Concerning Modifications to the Naturopathic Formulary of Medications that a Registered Naturopathic Doctor is Authorized to Use in the Practice of Naturopathic Medicine, by Reps. Joann Ginal & Kathleen Conti and Sens. Larry Crowder & Linda Newell. The bill expands the authority of naturopathic doctors in several ways.
  • HB 15-1353 – Concerning the Continuation of the Regulation of Conveyances, and, in Connection Therewith, Extending the Certification of Conveyances and Conveyance Mechanics, Contractors, and Inspectors of Elevators and Escalators Until July 1, 2022, by Rep. Alec Garnett and Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik. The bill extends the Elevator and Escalator Certification Act to regulate conveyances.
  • HB 15-1360 – Concerning the Use of Injection Therapy by Acupuncturists Licensed Pursuant to Article 29.5 of Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, by Rep. Joann Ginal and Sen. Kevin Lundberg. The bill allows licensed acupuncturists to practice injection therapy.
  • HB 15-1083 – Concerning Patient Financial Contributions for Physical Rehabilitation Services, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Rep. Dianne Primavera and Sen. Larry Crowder. The bill requires the Colorado Commission on Affordable Health Care to conduct a study of the costs of physical rehabilitation services.
  • HB 15-1261 – Concerning the Maximum Reserve for a Cash Fund with Fee Revenue, by Rep. Dave Young and Sens. Kevin Grantham & Pat Steadman. The bill alters the cash fund reserve requirement.
  • HB 15-1273 – Concerning Additional Comprehensive Reporting Requirements for School Discipline Reports, and, in Connection Therewith, Requiring a Post-Enactment Review of the Implementation of this Act and Making an Appropriation, by Rep. Polly Lawrence and Sen. Linda Newell. The bill adds sexual assaults and marijuana violations to the list of items that must be included in a safe schools report.
  • HB 15-1370 – Concerning Access to Certain Records of a County Department of Human or Social Services Containing Personal Identifying Information by an Auditor Conducting a Financial or Performance Audit of that Department, by Rep. Dianne Primavera and Sens. Lucia Guzman & Tim Neville. The bill permits an auditor access to all files of a county department of human or social services that are needed to conduct the audit.
  • SB 15-029 – Concerning a Study of Volunteer Firefighter Pension Plans in the State, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Jessie Ulibarri and Rep. Jovan Melton. The bill requires the state auditor to conduct a study of firefighter pension plans in Colorado.
  • SB 15-184 – Concerning Enforcement of Compulsory Education Requirements, by Sen. Chris Holbert and Rep. Rhonda Fields. The bill requires the chief judge in each judicial district to convene a meeting of stakeholders to find ways to address truancy other than detention.
  • SB 15-203 – Concerning Continuation of the Regulation of Debt-Management Service Providers by the Attorney General, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Recommendations of the 2014 Sunset Report by the Department of Regulatory Agencies, by Sen. John Cooke and Rep. Dan Pabon. The bill continues the Uniform Debt-Management Services Act.
  • SB 15-228 – Concerning a Process for the Periodic Review of Provider Rates Under the “Colorado Medical Assistance Act”, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Pat Steadman and Rep. Bob Rankin. The bill establishes a process for the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to review Medicare provider rates.
  • SB 15-261 – Concerning a Modification to the Statute that Specifies the Forms of Public Notice that a Public Utility May Provide Regarding a Change in the Public Utility’s Schedule of Charges to Allow a Request for an Alternative Form of Notice within the Same Formal Application that the Public Utility Files with the Public Utilities Commission When Applying for a Change in the Public Utility’s Schedule of Charges, by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and Rep. Dave Young. The bill allows public utilities to request rate changes during existing proceedings.
  • HB 15-1282 – Concerning the Creation of Crimes Involving Deception about Material Information in Connection with Birth Certificates, by Rep. Lois Saine and Sen. Linda Newell. The bill creates a class 2 misdemeanor for anyone who intentionally omits material information in the preparation of a birth certificate.
  • HB 15-1309 – Concerning the Placement of Interim Therapeutic Restorations by Dental Hygienists, and, in Connection Therewith, Ensuring Medicaid and Children’s Basic Health Plan Reimbursement for Services Provided Through the Use of Telehealth Related to Interim Therapeutic Restoration Procedures and Making an Appropriation, by Rep. Joann Ginal and Sen. Larry Crowder. The bill allows dental hygienists to perform therapeutic restorations.
  • HB 15-1333 – Concerning the Creation of a Regional Center Depreciation Account in the Capital Construction Fund for Maintenance of the State’s Regional Centers, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Rep. Ed Vigil and Sen. Randy Baumgardner. The bill creates the Regional Center Depreciation Account to hold moneys for depreciation and capital construction.
  • HB 15-1337 – Concerning Placement Stability for Children, by Rep. Angela Williams and Sen. Linda Newell. The bill requires a court to consider all statutory factors when placing a child for foster care.
  • HB 15-1340 – Concerning an Extension of the Period During Which the Voluntary Contribution Designation Benefiting the Colorado Multiple Sclerosis Fund will Appear on the State Individual Income Tax Return Form, by Reps. Faith Winter & Perry Buck and Sens. Beth Martinez Humenik & Linda Newell. The bill extends the Colorado Multiple Sclerosis Fund check-off through 2021.
  • HB 15-1345 – Concerning an Exemption from Certain Traffic Requirements for the Riders of a Three-Wheel Low-Speed Motorcycle, by Rep. Paul Rosenthal and Sen. Tim Neville. The bill exempts motorcyclists who ride low-speed three-wheeled motorcycles from requirements of licensure and eye protection.
  • HB 15-1366 – Concerning the Expansion of the Colorado Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit to Allow Credits for Businesses that Enter Into a Qualified Partnership with a State Institution of Higher Education, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Reps. Dan Pabon & Yeulin Willett and Sen. David Balmer. The bill allows the job growth incentive tax credit to be refundable under certain conditions.
  • HB 15-1387 – Concerning the Elimination of the Authorized Transfer of Medical Marijuana to Retail Marijuana at the Time that a Retail Marijuana Establishment License Becomes Effective, by Reps. Dan Pabon & Bob Rankin and Sens. Pat Steadman & Kent Lambert. The bill prohibits a medical marijuana facility with a retail marijuana license from transferring any of its medical marijuana to the retail establishment.
  • SB 15-192 – Concerning the Provision of a Therapeutic Alternative Drug Selection to Patients Residing in Certain Long-Term Care Facilities, by Sen. Irene Aguilar and Rep. Janak Joshi. The bill allows licensed pharmacists to provide therapeutic alternate drug selections to patients in nursing care facilities and long-term acute care hospitals if certain conditions are met.
  • SB 15-209 – Concerning an Amendment to Specified Statutes Governing the Management of the Financial Affairs of a Unit Owners’ Association Under the “Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act” so as to Exempt Communities in Which a Majority of Units Designated for Residential Use are Time Share Units, by Sen. David Balmer and Rep. Angela Williams. The bill exempts certain timeshare communities from the definitions of “common interest community” and “homeowners’ association.”
  • SB 15-210Concerning Creation of the Title Insurance Commission, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Laura Woods and Rep. Jeni James Arndt. The bill creates the Title Insurance Commission to serve as an advisory body to the Commissioner of Insurance.
  • SB 15-229 – Concerning the Creation of an Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis License Plate for Motor Vehicles, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Laura Woods and Reps. Janak Joshi & Diane Mitsch Bush. The bill creates an ALS license plate, available when the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the ALS Association receives 3,000 signatures of individuals committed to purchase the plate.
  • SB 15-262 – Concerning Updates to the Statutes Regulating Blanket Sickness and Accident Insurance, by Sen. Tim Neville and Rep. Angela Williams. The bill expands and clarifies the groups that may receive blanket accident and sickness insurance.
  • SB 15-267 – Concerning the Financing of Public Schools, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Owen Hill and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill increases per-pupil funding for public schools to reflect inflation.
  • SB 15-270 – Concerning the Creation of the Office of the State Architect, and, in Connection Therewith, Adding Statewide Planning Responsibilities and Making and Reducing an Appropriation, by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Bob Rankin. The bill creates the Office of the State Architect in law.
  • SB 15-271 – Concerning the Continuation of the Entities Charged with Representing the Interests of Certain Utility Consumers in Matters Heard by the Public Utilities Commission, by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and Rep. Jon Becker. The bill continues the Office of the Consumer Counsel and implements recommendations from the sunset review.
  • SB 15-278 – Concerning an Amendment to the Annual General Appropriation Act for the 2013-2014 Fiscal Year to Allow Unspent Moneys Appropriated for the Colorado State Capitol Dome Restoration Project to be Used for the Next Planned Phase of the Colorado State Capitol Restoration, by Sens. Kent Lambert & Pat Steadman and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill allows the Department of Personnel and Administration to use moneys from the capitol restoration project on other projects.
  • SB 15-281 – Concerning Parent Engagement in Institute Charter Schools, by Sen. Owen Hill and Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp. The bill requires charter schools, rather than the Charter School Institute, to hold meetings regarding school priority implementation.
  • SB 15-283 – Concerning Debt Collection Proceedings, and, in Connection Therewith, Increasing the Scope and Value of Assets that may be Exempted, Clarifying Definitions of “Earnings”, and Specifying the Procedure for Service of Notice of Exemption and Pending Levy in Certain Garnishment Proceedings, by Sen. Laura Woods and Rep. Pete Lee. The bill modifies exemptions and procedures in certain debt collection actions.
  • SB 15-202 – Concerning the Regulation of Water Conditioning Appliances Pursuant to the Plumbing Code, by Sen. David Balmer and Rep. Dan Pabon. The bill creates three new categories of registered water conditioners.
  • HB 15-1301 – Concerning the Creation of a Credit for Tobacco Products that a Distributor Ships or Transports to an Out-of-State Consumer, and, in Connection Therewith, Creating the “Cigar On-Line Sales Equalization Act” and Making an Appropriation, by Rep. Angela Williams and Sens. Kevin Grantham & Owen Hill. The bill creates a credit against tobacco excise tax equal to Colorado excise taxes paid on tobacco products other than cigarettes sold by a distributor to an out-of-state consumer.

In addition to the bills signed Friday, the governor allowed three bills to become law without a signature. These bills are also summarized here.

  • HB 15-1316 – Concerning a Simplification of the Process by which the Public Utilities Commission may Issue a Certificate to Provide Taxicab Service in Certain Metropolitan Counties, by Reps. Steve Lebsock & Dan Thurlow and Sens. Owen Hill & Jessie Ulibarri. The bill changes the prerequisites for an applicant seeking authorization to provide taxicab service within certain counties.
  • SB 15-067 – Concerning an Increase in the Class of Offense for Certain Acts of Assault Against Persons Engaged in Performing their Duties as Emergency Responders, by Sen. John Cooke and Rep. Janak Joshi. The bill raises the classification for assault of a first responder to assault in the second degree.
  • SB 15-290 – Concerning Creation of the Colorado Student Leaders Institute, And, In Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Nancy Todd and Rep. Jim Wilson. The bill creates the Colorado Student Leaders Institute, a competitive summer residential education program for high school students.

For a complete list of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2015 legislative decisions, click here.