August 19, 2019

Archives for March 7, 2016

Governor Hickenlooper Signs First Two Bills Into Law

On Wednesday, March 2, 2016, the governor’s office announced that Governor Hickenlooper signed the first two bills of the 2016 legislative session into law. The bills were HB 16-1018, “Concerning a Requirement that the Statewide Transportation Advisory Committee Provide Advice and Comments Regarding Transportation-Related Matters to Both the Department of Transportation and the Transportation Commission Rather than to the Department Only,” and HB 16-1044, “Concerning the Extension of Dates Related to the Petroleum Storage Tank Fund.”

HB 16-1018 requires the Statewide Transportation Advisory Committee to report to both the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Transportation about the needs of transportation systems and reviews and comments on all regional transportation plans. Previously, the Statewide Transportation Advisory Committee was only required to report to CDOT.

HB 16-1044 extends two repeal dates for the Petroleum Storage Tank Fund. The Fund reimburses eligible applicants for the costs of cleaning up both underground and above ground petroleum tank contamination.

For all of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2016 legislative decisions, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Insufficient Notice of Tax Lien Renders Tax Deed Voidable

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Sandstrom v. Solen on Thursday, February 25, 2016.

Validity of a Tax Deed—Void or Voidable—Redemption Rights of Tenants in Common—Summary Judgment—Duty of Diligent Inquiry.

Bradford appealed the summary judgment concluding that the Arapahoe County Treasurer (Treasurer) properly invalidated a tax deed in his favor. Bradford also appealed the grant of summary judgment quieting title to the subject property in favor of Solen and Ibbotson.

The subject parcel was assessed as a 50% undivided interest in mineral rights beneath surface property owned by Bradford. That undivided interest was conveyed as two undivided interests to Solon and his sister Ibbotson. Because of an error on the part of the assessor, the Treasurer had billed the parcel by mailing tax bills to Solon only. The taxes went unpaid for tax years 2004 through 2007. In 2005, Bradford purchased the 2004 tax lien.

On August 30, 2008, Bradford applied for a tax deed for the parcel. Before a deed is issued to a purchaser, CRS § 39-11-128(1)(a) requires the treasurer to serve a notice of the purchase of a tax lien on all persons having an interest or title of record in or to the property if “upon diligent inquiry” the residence of such persons can be determined. Here, the Treasurer sent notice to Solen of the application for tax deed but did not obtain title work for the parcel or check the county clerk and recorder’s records. On February 26, 2009, the Treasurer issued a tax deed transferring the entire undivided one-half interest in the mineral estate to Bradford.

In 2013, an oil and gas lessee of Ibbotson’s notified the Treasurer that she claimed ownership of the parcel. On August 26, 2013, the Treasurer issued and recorded a declaration of invalid treasurer’s deed that purportedly invalidated Bradford’s tax deed. In December 2013, the Treasurer filed this action seeking a declaratory judgment that the declaration of invalid treasurer’s deed was a valid document, thereby canceling title in Bradford. The Treasurer’s complaint admitted that she had failed to conduct diligent inquiry prior to issuing the tax deed. Bradford counterclaimed against the Treasurer and cross-claimed against Solen and Ibbotson for a decree quieting title in the parcel. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of the Treasurer, Solen, and Ibbotsen.

On appeal, Bradford argued the district court erred in finding that the tax deed issued to her was invalid and void. The Court of Appeals concluded that the tax deed was voidable for failure to provide Ibbotson with notice. Because the statutory requirements of CRS § 29-11-128(1) were not met, the district court properly voided the tax deed.

Bradford also argued that it was error to conclude that as tenants in common, Ibbotson and Solen were entitled to quiet title in the parcel and that because Solen received notice of the requested tax deed, he was estopped from challenging her title under the tax deed. The Court disagreed, noting that a tenancy in common is a form of ownership in which each cotenant owns a separate fractional share of undivided property. The parcel was assessed as a single parcel, and Solen and Ibbotson each owned an undivided interest in the entire parcel. The tax deed purported to convey the entire parcel, and therefore either cotenant had the right to notice and to redeem the entire parcel. It is irrelevant whether Solen is estopped because Ibbotson was willing and ready to redeem if she had received notice.

Bradford also contested Solen’s standing, but the Court found that Solen had standing.

The Court affirmed the order.

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: “Resident Relative” Insurance Coverage Does Not Apply to Estranged Husband

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in GEICO Casualty Co. v. Collins on Thursday, February 25, 2016.

Summary Judgment—Resident of the Same Household for Purposes of Insurance Coverage—Boatright Factors—Intent of the Parties.

Collins lived in a house with his wife and their children until a petition for dissolution of marriage was filed in January 2013, at which point Collins moved out of the home. Collins and his wife co-owned a motorcycle and a Jeep. Upon separation, Collins took possession of the motorcycle and his wife took possession of the Jeep. In February 2013, Collins’s wife purchased a new policy from GEICO to cover only the Jeep, informing the GEICO representative that she and Collins were separated and she did not consider him to be a member of her household for purposes of the policy. He was not rated or considered for coverage under the policy.

In May 2013, Collins was injured in a motorcycle accident with an underinsured motor vehicle. In July 2013, the divorce became final. In September 2013, Collins filed a claim with GEICO for underinsured motorist coverage. GEICO denied the claim on the ground that Collins was not a resident relative because he did not reside in his former wife’s household at the time of the accident and therefore was not an insured under the policy. Collins and GEICO each sought declaratory relief on the issue of whether he was a resident of his former wife’s household at the time of the accident. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of GEICO, and Collins appealed.

Whether a person is a resident of a household for purposes of insurance coverage is determined by the facts and circumstances of each case. The fact that Collins lived apart from his wife at the time of the accident does not foreclose the possibility that he was a resident of her household, nor is the fact that they were married dispositive. The critical questions are (1) whether the spouses’ separation was intended to be permanent and (2) whether the contracting parties intended the insurance policy to cover both spouses. Given the dissolution petition, the permanent protection order barring Collins from the house where his wife lived, the undisputed evidence that the couple did not discuss or contemplate reconciliation, and their lack of contact after the dissolution petition, the Court concluded that Collins’s absence from the residence at the time of the accident was intended to be permanent. Moreover, the undisputed facts show that neither GEICO nor the wife intended Collins to be covered under the underinsured motorist provisions of the policy. Hence, under the totality of the circumstances, Collins was not a resident of his former wife’s household at the time of his motorcycle accident.

The judgment was affirmed.

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: Workers’ Compensation Act Applies to Employers who Hire in Colorado

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Youngquist Brothers Oil & Gas, Inc. v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office on Thursday, February 25, 2016.

Workers’ Compensation Act—Out-of-State Employer/Injury.

Youngquist Brothers Oil and Gas, Inc. (Youngquist) has business operations in North Dakota but hires workers from other states, including Colorado. It maintains workers’ compensation insurance in North Dakota but not Colorado.

Miner lived in Colorado. He applied for and was offered a job by Youngquist, who then flew him to North Dakota. During his second shift, Miner injured his back. Youngquist agreed to allow Miner to seek medical treatment in Colorado and arranged for his return. Miner filed a workers’ compensation claim with North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance, which was denied. Miner then filed for workers’ compensation benefits in Colorado. After a hearing, the administrative law judge (ALJ) determined that he was hired in Colorado and therefore his claim was subject to the Workers Compensation Act (Act). The ALJ found he suffered a compensable work-related injury, awarded him benefits, and imposed a 50% penalty on Youngquist for failing to carry workers’ compensation insurance in Colorado. The Industrial Claim Appeals Office affirmed the ALJ’s order.

On appeal, Youngquist argued it is not subject to the Act because it does not conduct business in Colorado, Miner was not hired in Colorado, and it does not have sufficient contacts with Colorado to establish personal jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals disagreed. Colorado has jurisdiction to award benefits for out-of-state work-related injuries if an employee was (1) hired or regularly employed in Colorado and (2) injured within six months of leaving Colorado. It was undisputed that Miner was injured within six months of leaving Colorado. The Court found record support for the ALJ’s finding that the “last act necessary” to form the employment relationship occurred in Colorado when Miner accepted the job offer at his home, not after he filled out the paperwork and did the drug testing in North Dakota.

Youngquist also alleged that it lacked sufficient minimum contacts with Colorado to be subject to personal jurisdiction there and that enforcing Colorado benefits violates principles of comity. The Court rejected the former and did not reach the latter constitutional argument.

The Court also rejected Youngquist’s argument that the ALJ erred in applying the Act’s penalty provision.

The order was affirmed.

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

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 3/4/2016

On Friday, March 4, 2016, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and five unpublished opinions.

United States v. Lee

Bergerud v. Falk

Fisher v. Raemisch

United States v. Beltran

United States v. Evans

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