August 26, 2019

Archives for May 13, 2015

Nominees Selected for Vacancy on 11th Judicial District Court

On Tuesday, May 12, 2015, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced the selection of three nominees to fill a vacancy on the Eleventh Judicial District Court. The vacancy will be created by the retirement of Hon. Charles Barton, effective July 1, 2015.

The three nominees selected are Brian L. Green of Fairplay, Roger B. Larsen of Canon City and Lynette M. Wenner of Cotopaxi. Under the Colorado Constitution, Governor Hickenlooper has 15 days from May 12, 2015, in which to select one of the nominees for appointment. Comments regarding the nominees may be emailed to the governor at gov_judicialappointments@state.co.us.

For more information, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Insurer Not Entitled to Directed Verdict Because Medical Benefit Payment Unreasonably Delayed

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Fisher v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. on Thursday, May 7, 2015.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage—Delayed Payment—Directed Verdict—Exclusion of Expert’s Testimony.

In February 2010, Fisher was injured in a collision between the vehicle he was driving and another vehicle. The other vehicle’s driver carried $25,000 in automobile liability insurance. Fisher was insured under several automobile insurance policies with defendant (State Farm) that had a combined underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage limit of $400,000. The trial court found in favor of Fisher in his claims against State Farm for unreasonably delaying and denying payment of UIM benefits.

On appeal, State Farm argued that the trial court erred in denying its motion for a directed verdict on Fisher’s statutory claim. State Farm contended that Fisher’s medical expenses were not, as a matter of law, benefits owed to Fisher at the time he initiated the lawsuit, and therefore, it could not have unreasonably delayed payment of owed UIM benefits. CRS § 10-3-1115(2) provides that “an insurer’s delay or denial was unreasonable if the insurer delayed or denied authorizing payment of a covered benefit without a reasonable basis for that action” (emphasis added). State Farm was precluded from relying on any policy language that purports to prevent Fisher from establishing a claim under CRS § 10-3-1115 until the amount of compensatory damages to which he is legally entitled to collect from the underinsured motorist has been determined. Accordingly, under the plain language of § 1115, State Farm had a duty to not unreasonably delay or deny payment of Fisher’s medical expenses. Fisher offered evidence that he had presented medical bills to State Farm totaling $61,125 at the end of September 2010, and State Farm had not paid any of those bills by the time the lawsuit was filed in July 2011. Therefore, there was sufficient evidence introduced at trial to support the jury’s verdict that State Farm unreasonably delayed paying Fisher’s medical expenses.

State Farm also argued that the trial court abused its discretion in excluding the testimony of its insurance industry standard expert. CRS § 10-3-1115(2) defines “unreasonableness” for the purpose of a claim under §§ 1115 or 1116, and State Farm was not harmed by excluding testimony contrary to Colorado law. The judgment was therefore affirmed.

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