April 24, 2019

Archives for August 14, 2015

Appointments Announced to New Title Insurance Commission

Last legislative session, SB 15-210, “Concerning Creation of the Title Insurance Commission, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” was enacted, requiring the development of a nine-member Title Insurance Commission to act as an advisory body to the Insurance Commissioner regarding matters of title insurance. The Title Insurance Commission will propose, advise, and recommend rules, bulletins, and other consumer protection materials for promulgation by the Insurance Commissioner.

On Thursday, August 13, 2015, Governor Hickenlooper appointed the first nine members of the Title Insurance Commission. Three of the appointees must be licensed employees of title insurance companies with not less than five years’ experience, three must be licensed employees of title insurance companies meeting certain qualifications regarding geographic diversity, and three must be members of the public at large and not be engaged in the business of title insurance. Governor Hickenlooper’s appointees are:

  • Phillip Michael Schreiber of Littleton, to serve as a licensed employee of a title insurance company with not less than five years of experience in the title insurance business; for a term expiring August 5, 2017;
  • Alexander Pankonin of Denver, to serve as a resident title insurance agent with not less than five years experience in the title insurance business, for a term expiring August 5, 2017;
  • Gary Glenn of Tabernash, to serve as an at-large public member who is not engaged in the business of title insurance and resides outside of a standard metropolitan area, for a term expiring August 5, 2017;
  • Charles Hallack Cowperthwaite of Littleton, to serve as an at-large public member who is not engaged in the business of title insurance, for a term expiring August 5, 2017;
  • Paul David Dickard of Aurora, to serve as a licensed employee of a title insurance company that has netted admitted assets of less than $500 million, with not less than five years of experience in the title insurance business, for a term expiring August 5, 2019;
  • Carl Phillip Laffin of Highlands Ranch, to serve as a licensed employee of a title insurance company that has netted admitted assets of more than $500 million, with not less than five years of experience in the title insurance business, for a term expiring August 5, 2019;
  • Jason Duncan of Alamosa, to serve as a resident title insurance agent with not less than five years experience in the title insurance business, for a term expiring August 5, 2019;
  • Patrick Alan Rice of Superior, to serve as a resident title insurance agent with not less than five years experience in the title insurance business, for a term expiring August 5, 2019;
  • Mary Renee Babkiewich of Denver, to serve as an at-large public member who is not engaged in the business of title insurance, for a term expiring August 5, 2019.

For more information about the role of the Title Insurance Commission, click here.

Barbara Zollars Appointed to Rio Grande County Court

On Thursday, August 13, 2015, the governor’s office announced the appointment of Barbara Zollars to the Rio Grande County Court in the Twelfth Judicial District, effective immediately. Zollars will fill a vacancy created by the appointment of Hon. Patrick H. Hayes, Jr. to the Twelfth Judicial District Court.

Zollars is currently a partner at the San Luis Valley Law Firm, where she practices criminal defense, handling everything from traffic offenses to first-degree murder cases. Prior to opening her firm, Zollars was a Deputy State Public Defender in various offices from 1988 to 2002. She also founded and managed a legal aid program in Seattle, Washington. Zollars earned both her undergraduate and law degrees from Seattle University.

For more information about the appointment, click here.

Tenth Circuit: Nothing in Prior Tenth Circuit Remand Prevented Entry of Judgment on State Law Claims

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Cook v. Rockwell International Corp. on Tuesday, June 23, 2015.

In 1989, FBI agents discovered plant workers at the Rocky Flats nuclear plant had been carelessly mishandling radioactive waste for many years. Landowners neighboring the former nuclear plant brought a federal civil suit against Rockwell and Dow Chemical Corp., seeking relief under both the Price-Anderson Act and state nuisance law. After fifteen years of pretrial discovery, a jury returned a verdict for plaintiffs, including $177 million in compensatory damages, $200 million in punitive damages, and $549 million in prejudgment interest. Defendants appealed, arguing the court failed to properly instruct the jury on the terms of the Price-Anderson Act. A panel of the Tenth Circuit agreed in Cook I, vacating the judgment and remanding for further proceedings in light of the Act’s correct construction. Plaintiffs then argued that even without the Price-Anderson Act claim, their state law nuisance verdict survived. Defendants countered that (1) the Price-Anderson Act prevents state law recovery where an Act claim, albeit unsuccessful, is advanced, and (2) the Tenth Circuit’s mandate in Cook I independently barred plaintiffs from relief on their state law nuisance claims. The district court ruled for defendants and plaintiffs appealed.

On appeal, the Tenth Circuit first addressed defendants’ argument that any state law claim was preempted by the unsuccessful Price-Anderson Act claim. The Tenth Circuit characterized this as a structure where unless a nuclear claim was large enough to fall within the Act’s regulation, there could be no recovery for damages. Noting that the defendants forfeited this argument in their first appeal, the Tenth Circuit reaffirmed the first panel’s holding that Dow and Rockwell forfeited any field preemption argument long ago. The Tenth Circuit found it implausible that Congress would have intended remedies to exist only for large-scale “nuclear incidents” while foreclosing remedies for smaller claims. The Tenth Circuit could find nowhere in the Act preempting or precluding remedies for state law claims if federal claims were not proved, and found it rather seemed to imply the opposite.

Turning to defendants’ second argument, that the court mandate in the first appeal required dismissal of plaintiffs’ state law claims, the Tenth Circuit again rejected defendants’ arguments. The Tenth Circuit evaluated Cook I and noted the prior panel expressly found the jury was properly instructed on the elements of a state law nuisance claim. The Tenth Circuit found that at the end of the first trial there was a properly instructed jury, legally sufficient evidence, and a favorable jury verdict as pertains to a state law nuisance claim. The Tenth Circuit similarly rejected defendants’ proposition that the prior Tenth Circuit panel had vacated the entire verdict, including the state law portion. This panel of the Tenth Circuit averred that the state law portion of the trial court’s verdict was untouched in Cook I and therefore was the law of the case, and nothing prevented the trial court from entering a new verdict on the state law claim alone.

The Tenth Circuit remanded the case with instructions for the district court to enter judgment on the nuisance verdict promptly. Judge Moritz concurred in the judgment of remand but disagreed that the court would be able to simply reinstate the nuisance judgment without a new trial.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 8/13/2015

On Thursday, August 13, 2015, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued two published opinions and seven unpublished opinions.

Boucher v. Wyoming Department of Corrections

United States v. Barnes

Macias v. Griffin

Grubbs v. Salvation Army

United States v. Velasco

Robertson v. State of Kansas

Tubbs v. Wilkinson

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