April 23, 2018

Bills Signed Requiring Commercial Drivers to Receive Training in Human Trafficking Prevention, Modifying Water Court Process for Substitute Water Rights, and More

On Thursday, April 12, 2018, Governor Hickenlooper signed 23 bills into law. To date, he has signed 149 bills and sent one to the Secretary of State without a signature. Some of the bills signed Thursday include a bill allowing a water court process for mitigation measures, a bill requiring commercial drivers to receive training on prevention of human trafficking, a bill authorizing insurers’ agents to access the electronic motor vehicle title database, and more. The bills signed Thursday are summarized here.

  • SB 18-011 – “Concerning Treatment of Students who are Excused by their Parents from Participating in State Assessments,” by Sens. Chris Holbert & Andy Kerr and Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Paul Lundeen. The bill clarifies procedures for parents who excuse their children from taking state assessments and students whose parents excuse them from testing shall still be allowed to receive rewards designed for students who complete the assessments.
  • SB 18-079 – “Concerning Classifying Sake as a Vinous Liquor for the Purposes of the ‘Colorado Liquor Code,'” by Sen. Lucia Guzman and Rep. Dan Pabon. The bill classifies sake as a vinous liquor (wine) for the purposes of the “Colorado Liquor Code.”
  • SB 18-087 – “Concerning In-state Tuition at Institutions of Higher Education for Certain Foreign Nationals Legally Settled in Colorado,” by Sen. Stephen Fenberg and Reps. Dafna Michaelson Jenet & Faith Winter. The bill contains a legislative declaration about the circumstances facing special immigrants and refugees and the benefit of access to education.
  • SB 18-106 – “Concerning Obsolete Statutory Provisions Related to a Local Government’s Pledging of Sales or Use Tax Revenues to Pay for Revenue Bonds Issued for the Purpose of Financing Capital Improvements,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Rep. Don Thurlow. Current law specifies that a county, city, or incorporated town may include the creation of a sales and use tax capital improvement fund (special fund) when the county, city, or incorporated town seeks voter approval to levy a sales or use tax. The creation of the special fund does not have a purpose for a county, city, or incorporated town post-TABOR because the question of using sales or use tax revenues for financing capital improvements is asked when the county, city, or incorporated town seeks voter approval for the bond issuance. Thus, the language regarding the creation of the fund is unnecessary.
  • SB 18-110 – “Concerning the Repeal of the Requirement that Each State Agency Annually Report the Amount of Federal Money it Received in the Prior Fiscal Year,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Rep. Jeni James Arndt. During the 2017 legislative session, the statutory revision committee put forth House Bill 17-1058, which, in part, repealed a requirement that the state controller submit to the general assembly a report of all federal money received by state agencies during the prior fiscal year. State agencies are still required to submit an annual report to the state controller of all federal moneys received by the state agency in the prior fiscal year for the state controller’s use in preparing the report for the general assembly.The bill repeals the state agency reporting requirement as the state controller is no longer required to prepare a report for the general assembly.
  • SB 18-127 – “Concerning the Repeal of the Department of Revenue’s Requirement to Publish an Historical Explanation of Income Tax Rate Modifications Enacted in the State on Every Income Tax Return Form,” by Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik and Rep. Dan Thurlow. The bill repeals the requirement that the Executive Director of the Department of Revenue publish an historical explanation of income tax rate modifications enacted in the state on every income tax return form.
  • SB 18-129 – “Concerning the Nonsubstantive Reorganization of the Law Exempting from State Sales Tax Certain Drugs and Medical and Therapeutic Devices,” by Sen. Dominick Moreno and Rep. Jeni James Arndt. The bill makes several modifications to the laws exempting certain drugs and medical devices from sales tax.
  • SB 18-136 – “Concerning Fees for Advising Clients About the Selection of an Individual Health Benefit Plan,” by Sen. Tim Neville and Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Lang Sias. The bill allows an insurance producer or broker advising a client on individual health benefit plans to charge the client a fee if the producer or broker does not receive a commission related to the individual health benefit plan selected by the client and if the producer or broker discloses in writing the fee to the client.
  • SB 18-161 – “Concerning Repeal of the Behavioral Health Transformation Council,” by Sen. Jim Smallwood and Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Lois Landgraf. The bill repeals the behavioral health transformation council.
  • SB 18-162 – “Concerning Substitute Child Care Providers,” by Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik and Reps. Janet Buckner & James Wilson. The bill creates a license within the Department of Human Services for a substitute placement agency that places or that facilitates or arranges placement of substitute child care providers in licensed child care facilities providing less than 24-hour care.
  • SB 18-170 – “Concerning a Water Court Process by Which an Owner of a Storage Water Right Allowing Water to be Stored in New Reservoir Capacity may Release Water into an Identified Stream Reach in a Manner that Protects the Water Releases while Complying with Mitigation Measures Identified in a Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Plan Approved by the Colorado Water Conservation Board,” by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and Reps. Chris Hansen & Hugh McKean. The bill establishes a water court process by which an owner of a water storage right allowing water to be stored in a newly constructed reservoir or an enlarged existing reservoir may comply with the mitigation measures identified in a mitigation plan by contracting with the board.
  • SB 18-172 – “Concerning Testing of Horse Racing Licensees for the Presence of Prohibited Substances,” by Sen. Bob Gardner and Rep. Pete Lee. The bill adds to the responsibilities of the Colorado racing commission the protection of all participants, human and animal, involved in horse racing.
  • SB 18-176 – “Concerning Changes to the Requirements for Meeting Dates for the Board of the Southwestern Water Conservation District,” by Sen. Don Coram and Reps. Barbara McLachlin & Marc Catlin. The bill requires the Board of the Southwestern Water Conservation District to meet once every three months and makes amendments to the terms of the board members and board president.
  • SB 18-182 – “Concerning the Authority to Allocate a Portion of the Source Market Fee to Statutorily Authorized Purse Funds,” by Sens. Don Coram & Lucia Guzman and Reps. Marc Catlin & Jeni James Arndt. Current law requires persons outside of Colorado who accept wagers from residents of Colorado on simulcast horse racing events to be licensed in Colorado and to pay a source market fee into the racing cash fund. The bill authorizes the Director of the Division of Racing Events to allocate a portion of the source market fee to be paid to any horse purse trust fund established pursuant to existing law, if necessary, to maintain a sustainable and competitive purse structure in Colorado.
  • SB 18-183 – “Concerning Authorizing Agents of Insurers to Access the Electronic System that Insurers Access for Owner and Lienholder Information of a Motor Vehicle,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Reps. Jeni James Arndt & Larry Liston. Current law authorizes the creation and maintenance of an electronic system that vehicle towers, insurers, and salvage pools may use to access motor vehicle title records if the vehicle is insured or possessed by those entities. The bill allows an agent of an insurer to use the system in the same circumstances.
  • SB 18-184 – “Concerning a New Permit for the Short-term Extraction of Construction Materials,” by Sen. Don Coram and Reps. Hugh McKean & Daneya Esgar. The bill creates a new class of limited impact construction materials permits for one-time activities that produce construction materials as a by-product and are not intended to be ongoing mining operations and authorizes an application fee of $400 for the permit and an annual fee of $200.
  • HB 18-1017 – “Concerning the Adoption of an Interstate Compact to Allow a Person Authorized to Practice Psychology in a Compact State in Which the Person is not Licensed, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Dafna Michelson Jenet and Sens. Bon Gardner & Stephen Fenberg. The bill enacts the ‘Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact Act’ allowing psychologists licensed in any compact state to provide telepsychology services to clients in any other compact state, or temporary in-person client services in any compact state not exceeding 30 days in a calendar year.
  • HB 18-1018 – “Concerning a Requirement that Education to Prevent Human Trafficking be Included in the Training to Obtain a Commercial Driver’s License,” by Reps. Terri Carver & Dominique Jackson and Sens. Rachel Zenzinger & John Cooke. The bill requires that the training to obtain a commercial driver’s license to drive a combination vehicle contain education to prevent human trafficking if the training is conducted in a driving school. The department must also publish information about human trafficking for commercial driver’s license holders and trainees.
  • HB 18-1049 – “Concerning the Department of Human Services’ Authority to Continue to Lease Portions of the Grand Junction Regional Center Campus to Third-party Behavioral Health Providers,” by Rep. Dan Thurlow and Sen. Ray Scott. The Department of Human Services currently leases portions of the Grand Junction regional center campus to third-party behavioral health providers. The bill authorizes the Department to continue such leases until June 30, 2020, and each party to such lease may terminate the lease early provided that the terminating party provide the other party with 90 days notice before vacating the property or requiring the property to be vacated.
  • HB 18-1056 – “Concerning the Statewide Standard Health History Form that Members of the Fire and Police Pension Association Complete when Commencing Employment,” by Reps. Kevin Van Winkle & Dave Williams and Sen. John Cooke. Every member of the fire and police pension association (FPPA), at the commencement of employment, is required to complete a health history on a statewide standard health history form. The bill clarifies several aspects of the form.
  • HB 18-1078 – “Concerning Court Programs for Defendants who have Served in the Armed Forces,” by Reps. Lois Landgraf & Tony Exum and Sen. Bob Gardner. Under current law, the chief judge of a judicial district may establish an appropriate program for the treatment of veterans and members of the military. The bill states that, in establishing any such program, the chief judge, in collaboration with the probation department, the district attorney, and the state public defender, shall establish program guidelines and eligibility criteria. The bill requires a court, in determining whether to issue an order to seal criminal records of a petitioner who has successfully completed a veterans treatment program, to consider such factor favorably in making the determination.
  • HB 18-1154 – “Concerning Consumer Protections Relating to a Solicitation to Provide a Copy of a Public Record for a Fee,” by Reps. Edie Hooten & Kevin Van Winkle and Sen. Cheri Jahn. The bill requires a person who solicits a fee for providing a copy of a deed or deed of trust to give a copy of the document that will be used for the solicitation to each county clerk and recorder where the solicitation is to be distributed; not charge a fee of more than 4 times the amount charged by the county clerk and recorder; and include specified disclosures.
  • HB 18-1239 – “Concerning Continuation under the Sunset Law of the Environmental Management System Permit Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Recommendations of the Sunset Report by the Department of Regulatory Agencies by Allowing the Program to Repeal,” by Rep. Lois Landgraf and Sen. Ray Scott. The bill implements the recommendations of the sunset review and report on the environmental management system permit program by allowing the program to repeal.

For a complete list of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2018 legislative decisions, click here.

Colorado Supreme Court: CCIOA Permits Developer to Retain Right of Consent to Declaration Amendments

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Vallagio at Inverness Residential Condominium Association, Inc. v. Metropolitan Homes, Inc. on Monday, June 5, 2017.

Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act—Declaration Amendments—Arbitration Agreements—Colorado Consumer Protection Act Claims.

This case concerned whether (1) the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act, C.R.S. §§ 38-33.3-101 to -402, permits a developer–declarant to retain a right of consent to amendments to a provision of a common interest community’s declaration mandating arbitration of construction defect claims, and (2) the Colorado Consumer Protection Act, C.R.S. §§ 6-1-101 to -1121, precludes arbitration of claims asserted pursuant to that Act. Answering the first question in the affirmative and the second in the negative, the supreme court affirmed the court of appeals’ judgment requiring arbitration of the claims at issue and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: CGIA Does Not Apply to Claims by Metropolitan District Against Developers

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Tallman Gulch Metropolitan District v. Natureview Development, LLC on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

Colorado Governmental Immunity Act—Public Employee Immunity for Torts.

Richardson owned Natureview Development, LLC (Natureview) and platted and developed Tallman Gulch, a real estate development. In 2006, the Tallman Gulch Metropolitan District (the District) was formed to provide public improvements and services to its residents and taxpayers. Richardson was president of the District’s Board of Directors (Board). Tallman Gulch went into foreclosure, and despite being aware of the foreclosure proceedings, Richardson, acting as president of the District’s Board, signed off on the issuance of $4,214,000 in bonds to Natureview in exchange for the then-existing infrastructure improvements in Tallman Gulch. Ten days after the bonds were issued, the district court authorized the public trustee sale of Tallman Gulch, which was sold in 2011.

The District filed various claims against Natureview and Richardson, alleging it suffered an injury when it issued over $4 million in bonds to Natureview and Richardson, despite Tallman Gulch’s foreclosure status. The District argued that Richardson breached his fiduciary duty to the District as a Board member by approving issuance of bonds in a financially reckless manner and in bad faith, failing to disclose and consider the development’s financial and foreclosure status in making the bonds decision. Defendants moved to dismiss on various grounds. As relevant here, defendants argued that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the claims against Richardson under CRCP 12(b)(1), asserting that the claims were based on Richardson’s actions as an officer of the District and were thus barred by the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA). The court denied the motion to dismiss.

On appeal, defendants argued it was error to conclude the CGIA did not apply to the District’s claims against Richardson. Richardson argued that as a public employee he was immune under the CGIA with regard to the District’s tort claims against him. Here, the District, the public entity that employed Richardson, sued him for his malfeasance while in its employ. The plain language of the statute is unambiguous as to the immunity of the entity or employee when called upon to defend against tort claims, but it is silent as to suits brought by a public entity plaintiff. The CGIA clearly states that its purpose is to limit the liability of public entities in defending against tort claims, and thus to lessen the burden on taxpayers who provide funding for public entities. To prevent the District from recovering its loss by allowing Richardson to claim immunity as a public employee does not effectuate the purposes of the CGIA. The Court of Appeals concluded that the district court correctly concluded that the CGIA did not on its face apply to the District’s claims against Richardson.

The order was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Set-Off to Other Liable Parties Should be Applied to Jury Verdict before Contractual Limitation

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Taylor Morrison of Colorado, Inc. v. Terracon Consultants, Inc. on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

Contract—Limitation on Liability—Setoff—Jury Award—Statutory Costs—Prejudgment Interest—Post-Judgment Interest—Expert Testimony—Willful and Wanton—Settlement Statute—Costs.

Taylor Morrison of Colorado, Inc. (Taylor) was the developer of a residential subdivision. Taylor contracted with Terracon Consultants, Inc. (Terracon) to provide geotechnical engineering and construction materials testing services for the development of the subdivision. Taylor and Terracon agreed to cap Terracon’s total aggregate liability to Taylor at $550,000 (Limitation) for any and all damages or expenses arising out of its services or the contract. After homeowners notified Taylor about drywall cracks in their houses, Taylor investigated the complaints and then sued Terracon and other contractors for damages relating to those defects. After trial, the jury awarded Taylor $9,586,056 in damages, but also found that Terracon’s conduct was not willful and wanton. The court concluded that the Limitation includes costs and prejudgment interest and applied it to reduce the jury’s $9,586,056 damages award to $550,000. It also deducted the $592,500 settlement received from the other liable parties to arrive at zero dollars. The court found that neither party prevailed for purposes of awarding statutory interest and further concluded that neither Terracon’s deposit of $550,000 into the court registry nor its email to Taylor addressing a mutual dismissal constituted a statutory offer of settlement that would have allowed Terracon a costs and fees award.

On appeal, Taylor contended that the trial court erroneously deducted the setoff from the Limitation instead of deducting it from the jury damages verdict. The correct approach is to first apply the setoff against the jury verdict and then apply the contractual limitation against this reduced amount. Thus, Terracon’s liability according to the Limitation should have been a final judgment of $550,000 for Taylor.

Taylor next contended that the trial court erred when it concluded that the Limitation, by its terms, includes statutory costs and prejudgment interest. The pertinent contract language states that the Limitation applies to “any and all” expenses “including attorney and expert fees.” Thus, the Limitation’s language covers costs associated with interpreting and enforcing the contract.

Taylor further argued that the trial court erred in ruling that the Limitation does not include prejudgment interest within its cap on liability. The Limitation caps Terracon’s liability for “any and all injuries, damages, claims, losses, or expenses.” (Emphasis in original.) Because prejudgment interest is a form of damages, the Limitation also covers prejudgment interest. Taylor also asserted that post-judgment interest is not covered by the Limitation. The Court of Appeals agreed because post-judgment interest is not an element of compensatory damages.

Taylor next argued that the trial court’s exclusion of expert testimony concerning willful and wanton conduct was reversible error. Here, the court allowed the experts to testify about the factual conduct and opine on Terracon’s performance using characterizations within their expertise, but prevented testimony about legal concepts outside their expertise and whether a legal standard was met.

Terracon argued on cross-appeal that the trial court erred by not awarding it costs under Colorado’s settlement statute. Terracon’s deposit of $550,000 into the court registry pursuant to C.R.C.P. 67(a) was not a settlement offer because Taylor did not have the option to reject it. The statute requires both an offer and a rejection; thus the statute was not triggered, and Terracon is not entitled to costs. Further, Terracon’s email did not comply with C.R.S. § 13-17-202 because this alleged “settlement offer” contained nonmonetary conditions that extended the offer beyond the claims at issue. Therefore, there was no error in denying costs to Terracon.

The judgment was reversed as to the final award and the case was remanded with instructions. The judgment and orders were affirmed in all other respects.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Privity of Contract Must Exist for Breach of Warranty of Suitability Claim

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Forest City Stapleton, Inc. v. Rogers on Monday, April 17, 2017.

Implied Warranty of Suitability—Privity of Contract—Implied Warranties.

The Colorado Supreme Court considered whether privity of contract is necessary for a home buyer to assert a claim for breach of the implied warranty of suitability against a developer. The court concluded that because breach of the implied warranty of suitability is a contract claim, privity of contract is required in such a case. Here, the home buyer was not in privity of contract with the developer and thus cannot pursue a claim against the developer for breach of the implied warranty of suitability. Accordingly, the court of appeals’ judgment was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Senior Living Facilities Constitute “Residential Property” for CDARA Purposes

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Broomfield Senior Living Owner, LLC v. R.G. Brinkmann Co. on Thursday, March 9, 2017.

Senior Facility—Residential—Commercial—Breach of Contract—Construction Defect Action Reform Act—Homeowner Protection Act of 2007—Accrual—Statute of Limitations—Public Policy—Manifestation of a Defect.

Broomfield Senior Living Owner, LLC (Broomfield) brought claims against R.G. Brinkmann Company (Brinkmann) for breach of contract, negligence, negligence per se, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of express warranties in connection with Brinkmann’s construction of Broomfield’s facility. Brinkmann moved for summary judgment, raising both contractual limitations and statutory limitations defenses to all of Broomfield’s claims. The trial court granted Brinkmann’s motion for summary judgment, reasoning that the two-year statute of limitations applicable to civil claims had expired before Broomfield filed its complaint and that Broomfield had waived its rights to assert claims for repairs under the contract by failing to give Brinkmann timely notice of defects or adequate time to make repairs.

On appeal, Broomfield contended that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment and applying the accrual provisions of the contract rather than the accrual provision of the Construction Defect Action Reform Act (CDARA), titled the “Homeowner Protection Act of 2007” (HPA). Under the parties’ contract, the contractual limitations period expired independent of when the acts or failures to act were discovered, while CDARA links the accrual of construction defect claims to their discovery. The HPA renders a contract’s limitation or waiver of CDARA’s rights and remedies void as against public policy in cases involving claims arising from residential property. The Colorado Court of Appeals determined that the term “residential” is “unambiguous and means an improvement on a parcel that is used as a dwelling or for living purposes.” Here, the building is used as a home for senior residents. Accordingly, the senior facility is “residential property,” Broomfield is a “residential property owner,” and the HPA applies. As such, the contract’s terms limiting the accrual of claims are void as a matter of public policy, and the relevant statutory claims accrual periods apply, making Broomfield’s action timely.

Broomfield also contended that the trial court erred in precluding its breach of warranty claim based on its failure to give Brinkmann an opportunity to correct the defects. The court determined that genuine issues of material fact remain regarding whether Brinkmann received prompt notice of the defects and whether it had an adequate opportunity to correct its work.

Broomfield further argued that the trial court erred in concluding that its negligence claims were barred and that it failed to establish that Brinkmann performed design services. The court concluded that these claims were not barred and the parties offered conflicting design services evidence. Further, a genuine issue of fact remains concerning whether the alleged defects are patent or latent.

The judgment was reversed and the case was remanded.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Third-Party Claims in Construction Defect Case Timely Under C.R.S. § 13-80-104(1)(b)(II)

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In re Goodman v. Heritage Builders, Inc. on Monday, February 27, 2017.

Construction Defects—Statute of Repose—Statute of Limitations.

In this case, the Colorado Supreme Court considered the parameters for timeliness of third-party claims in construction defect cases. The court concluded that such claims are timely, irrespective of both the two-year statute of limitations in C.R.S. § 13-80-102 and the six-year statute of repose in C.R.S. § 13-80-104(1)(a), so long as they are brought at before the 90-day time frame outlined in C.R.S. § 13-80-104(1)(b)(II). Accordingly, the court made its rule to show cause absolute.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

HB 17-1169: Giving Construction Professionals the Right to Cure Alleged Defects

On February 6, 2017, Rep. Timothy Leonard and Sen. Jack Tate introduced HB 17-1169, “Concerning a Construction Professional’s Statutory Right to Repair under the ‘Construction Defect Action Reform Act’.”

The bill clarifies that a construction professional has the right to receive notice from a prospective claimant concerning an alleged construction defect; to inspect the property; and then to elect to either repair the defect or tender an offer of settlement before the claimant can file a lawsuit seeking damages.

The bill was introduced in the House and assigned to the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee. It is scheduled to be heard in committee on March 1, 2017, at 1:30 p.m.

SB 17-045: Requiring Equitable Allocation of Costs in Construction Defect Claims

On January 11, 2017, Sens. Angela Williams & Kevin Grantham and Reps. Cole Wist & Crisanta Duran introduced SB 17-045, “Concerning a Requirement for Equitable Allocation of the Costs of Defending a Construction Defect Claim.”

In a construction defect action in which more than one insurer has a duty to defend a party, the bill requires the court to apportion the costs of defense, including reasonable attorney fees, among all insurers with a duty to defend. An initial order apportioning costs must be made within 90 days after an insurer files its claim for contribution, and the court must make a final apportionment of costs after entry of a final judgment resolving all of the underlying claims against the insured. An insurer seeking contribution may also make a claim against an insured or additional insured who chose not to procure liability insurance for a period of time relevant to the underlying action. A claim for contribution may be assigned and does not affect any insurer’s duty to defend.

The bill was introduced in the Senate and assigned to the Business, Labor, & Technology Committee. It is scheduled for hearing in committee on February 2 at 2 p.m.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Attorney’s Prelitigation Statements Must Be Made in Good Faith to Qualify as Privileged

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Begley v. Ireson on Thursday, January 12, 2017.

Belinda Begley and Robert Hirsch, and their joint revocable trust (collectively, plaintiffs), purchased a property in Denver with the intent of demolishing the existing house and building a new house. Their architect’s plans were approved by the City & County of Denver, and plaintiffs contracted with a builder to begin demolition in anticipation of construction. The builder demolished the old house and began the shoring work for the new house. The neighbors, Ireson and Hoeckele, along with their attorney, Gibbs (collectively, defendants), made several threatening statements to the builder, which caused him to cease work and breach his contract with plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs filed a complaint against defendants, alleging intentional interference with a contract and intentional interference with prospective contractual relations. Several days later, defendants filed suit against plaintiffs, and moved to dismiss plaintiffs’ complaint under C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5) for failure to state a claim, arguing that their allegedly tortious statements were made in anticipation of litigation and were therefore protected. The district court apparently took judicial notice of defendants’ suit and granted their C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5) motion. Plaintiffs appealed.

The Colorado Court of Appeals first noted that motions to dismiss under C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5) are viewed with disfavor. The district court had ruled that the plaintiffs’ complaint failed to state a claim because there was no allegation that the statements by Hoeckele, Ireson, and Gibbs caused the builder to breach his contract. The court of appeals found this was error. The complaint alleged with specificity several incidents in which Ireson, Hoeckele, and Gibbs interfered with the construction contract, and the court held that nothing more was required to survive the motion to dismiss. The court reversed the district court’s grant of defendants’ motion.

The district court next ruled that because Gibbs’ statements and communications to the builder were made while he was representing Ireson and Hoeckele and were “in anticipation and in furtherance of litigation,” they were absolutely privileged against the torts that plaintiffs alleged. The court of appeals again found that this ruling was in error. The court analyzed several state appellate court decisions, as well as section 586 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, and determined that prelitigation statements must be made in good faith to be privileged. Because the district court made no finding as to whether Gibbs’ statements were made in good faith, the court of appeals reversed and remanded.

The court of appeals reversed the district court’s rulings and remanded for further proceedings.

Top Ten Programs and Homestudies of 2016: The Best of the Rest

The year is drawing to a close, which means that the compliance period is ending for a third of Colorado’s attorneys. Still missing some credits? Don’t worry, CBA-CLE has got you covered.

Today on Legal Connection we are featuring the Best of the Rest: the top programs and homestudies in the areas of law not previously covered, including construction law, disability law, agricultural law, water law, natural resources law, immigration law, and marijuana law. Although these practice areas are varied, the homestudies and programs featured below are top-notch. For practitioners in these areas of law, visit cle.cobar.org/Practice-Area to find more programs and homestudies in your area of practice, and visit cle.cobar.org/Books to search our selection of books.

Construction Law — Residential Construction Defect Law 2016: Intermediate to Advanced Class
The program will highlight significant construction defect liability, damages and insurance developments occurring over the past two years and described in the Fifth Edition of Residential Construction Law in Colorado (CLE in Colo., 2015) written by Ronald M. Sandgrund, Scott F. Sullan and Leslie A. Tuft. A copy of the book is included as part of the course materials. No written materials other than a list of cases and statutes discussed will be supplied. This program is an advance program and is not intended to provide a general overview of construction defect law or practice. Each Homestudy includes a PDF copy of the CLE book, Residential Construction Law in Colorado, 5th Edition. Order the Video OnDemand here, the CD homestudy here, and the MP3 here. Available for 3 general credits.

Immigration Law — Immigration Law 2016
Attend this program and you will receive practical training for representing individuals in immigration proceedings, including juveniles and survivors seeking asylum and other humanitarian relief. Topics covered include: Immigration Law 101, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, U Visas, T Visas, and VAWA, Cancellation of Removal and Trial Advocacy Skills in Immigration Court, Asylum Law, and Model Asylum Hearing. Order the Video OnDemand here, the CD homestudy here, and the MP3 here. Available for 7 general credits.

Water Law — Water Law 101 in 2016
This is the eighth in a series of courses related to Colorado water law and administration. This particular course will introduce you to the basic legal framework governing Colorado water law, rights, and administration as of 2016. You will become familiar with court cases, matters and issues critical to your understanding of water and water law in Colorado. You will learn about Colorado’s different types of water rights, how they are administered, the role of the State and Division Engineers, and what is required for changes of water rights. Order the Video OnDemand here, the CD homestudy here, and the MP3 here. Available for 7 general credits.

Environmental Law — Colorado’s Future Energy Economy: Legal Landscape
Attend this program and hear perspectives of officials and leaders at national and state and federal government levels on the direction of Colorado’s energy industry. Plus, gain invaluable insights on such from environmentalists, the energy industry, academia, and private firm practitioners. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn about the latest developments in the legal landscape behind Colorado’s energy and natural resources industries. Attend this program and personally unravel the issues with the experts. AND, at the same time, you will sharpen your practice skills and expand your knowledge to better serve your clients! Order the Video OnDemand here, the CD homestudy here, and the MP3 here. Available for 7 general credits, including 1 ethics credit.

Natural Resources Law — Oil, Gas, and Mining: Current Legal Issues
This Oil, Gas and Mining Law program is the one to attend to get up to speed on energy issues currently affecting Colorado and the West. You will leave this seminar with a better understanding of the latest regarding pertinent litigation, regulations and solutions for quieting title, financing, and distressed companies. Taught by experts, this program will provide you with an opportunity to network with colleagues and experts, and to catch up on hot topics in the energy law arena. Order the Video OnDemand here, the CD homestudy here, and the MP3 here. Available for 9 general credits, including 1 ethics credit.

Disability Law — Social Security Disability: Advanced Practice
Your distinguished panel of Judges, ODAR and Colorado Disability Determination Services Officials, a vocational expert, and seasoned private firm SSDI practitioners will provide you with the latest information on: Changes, Statistics, and Findings of the Colorado Disability Determination Services Office, What’s Happening in Region 8 and at Headquarters – Office of Disability Adjudication and Review?, State of the Denver Regional Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, Attorney Fee Agreements and Fee Petitions, How-to’s of Vocational Expert Examination, Perspectives of the Appeals Council, Appeals Council and Federal District Court Arguments, Case Law and Rulings, and How to File in Federal Court and Win! Order the Video OnDemand here, the CD homestudy here, and the MP3 here. Available for 8 general credits.

Agricultural Law — Rural Land Transactions: Contract Issues
Whether you represent the buyer or seller of ranch land, cattle, timber or recreational ranches, farms or other rural lands, this program is for you! Attend and your faculty of seasoned real estate attorneys and brokers will guide you through the nuances of rural land transactions, and help you avoid mistakes and potential pitfalls. You will receive straightforward guidance on Buyer Entity Pros and Cons, Federal Grazing Permits, Water, Mineral and Wind Rights, Growing Crops, and much more. Order the Video OnDemand here, the CD homestudy here, and the MP3 here. Available for 4 general credits.

Marijuana Law — Enforcing Cannabis Contracts, Including the Use of Arbitration in the Cannabis Industry
A key fear in the cannabis industry is the extent to which cannabis-related contracts are enforceable. This goes beyond contracts for the sale of cannabis itself and may include any number of legal instruments that touch a cannabis business. Although a number of recent court decisions in the Colorado state and federal courts indicate a trend toward the enforcement of cannabis-related contracts, and these cases will be discussed, many doubts remain regarding the enforceability of cannabis-related contracts. Arbitration provides a unique forum for the resolution of cannabis-related disputes that may provide greater legal certainty and enforceability. This CLE presentation covers the nuts and bolts of arbitration law relevant to the enforcement of purportedly illegal contracts, and goes beyond to identify techniques counsel should consider when drafting arbitration clauses for cannabis businesses and their partners. Order the Video OnDemand here, the CD homestudy here, and the MP3 here. Available for 3 general credits.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Insurer Required to Pay Portion of Costs Regardless of Whether Coverage Existed

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Mt. Hawley Insurance Co. v. Casson Duncan Construction, Inc. on Thursday, November 3, 2016.

Insurance—Partial Summary Judgment.

A homeowners association (HOA) sued developer Mountain View Homes III (MVH III) and general contractor Casson Duncan Construction Inc. (Casson Duncan) on defective construction claims. In arbitration, MVH III’s insurer, Mt. Hawley Insurance Co. (Mt. Hawley), defended under a reservation of rights. The arbitration resulted in awards of damages and taxable costs to the HOA. Casson Duncan paid the costs award, for which it and MVH III were jointly liable, and thereafter sought contribution from MVH III and Mt. Hawley.

Mt. Hawley initiated this action against MVH III, the HOA, and Casson Duncan, requesting a declaration that there was no coverage under its commercial general liability policies with MVH III for either the costs or damages awarded in the arbitration. Casson Duncan filed a counterclaim for declaratory and monetary relief against Mt. Hawley for payment of MVH III’s portion of the costs award. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment on coverage issues. The district court denied summary judgment on all but one issue: it determined that Mt. Hawley was, as a matter of law, responsible for paying MVH III’s portion of the cost award, regardless of whether it was also responsible for paying its portion of the damages award. This partial summary judgment ruling was certified as “final” for purposes of permitting appellate review.

On appeal, Mt. Hawley argued that the district court erred in granting partial summary judgment because Mt. Hawley’s responsibility for paying costs was inextricably linked to the question of whether the policies provided MVH III with coverage for the HOA’s claims, and because the coverage issues had not been determined, the costs issues could not be determined either. The court of appeals interpreted the policies to decide the issue. The insurance policies had standard “coverages” and “exclusions” sections and provided that the insurance company would pay “[a]ll costs taxed against the insured in the ‘suit,’” where “suit” clearly covered the arbitration proceeding. The obligation to pay costs was not linked to coverage but simply to the defense of the case. Because Mt. Hawley conducted MVH III’s defense in the arbitration proceedings, it was obligated to pay MVH III’s portion of taxable costs.

Mt. Hawley also argued that its reservation of rights letter superseded the policies’ costs provisions. A reservation of rights does not destroy the insured’s rights or create new rights in the insurer. The Colorado case law exception to this principle applies to defense costs, and defense costs are different from costs taxed against an insured.

Lastly, Mt. Hawley asserted that the court’s interpretation of the policies leads to absurd results. Mt. Hawley agreed in its policies to pay all costs taxed against MVH III in suits in which it defended MVH III. If Mt. Hawley wanted to avoid the result here, it could have changed the language in its policy regarding coverage of such costs.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.