July 18, 2019

Archives for June 21, 2016

Colorado Supreme Court: Mandatory Disqualification Applies When Conviction Was Under Specified Statutory Section

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Colorado Motor Vehicle Dealer Board v. Freeman on Monday, June 20, 2016.

Statutory Interpretation—State Agencies—Motor Vehicles.

The Supreme Court considered whether a person who commits third degree assault on an at-risk adult under C.R.S. §§ 18-3-204 and 18-6.5-103(3)(c) is disqualified from obtaining a motor vehicle salesperson’s license under C.R.S. § 12-6-118(7)(a)(I). The Court held that because the felony enhancement provision does not create a separate offense, Freeman was convicted of a “felony in violation of article 3 . . . of title 18,” C.R.S. § 12-6-118(7)(a)(I), and therefore the Colorado Motor Vehicle Dealer Board properly denied his application for a motor vehicle salesperson’s license. The Court of Appeals’ judgment was reversed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Written Extensions of Acknowledgments of Debt Extended Statute of Limitations for Foreclosure

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Hutchins v. La Plata Mountain Resources, Inc. on Monday, June 20, 2016.

Limitations of Actions—Acknowledgments of Existing Debt—Form and Essential Elements of Acknowledgements.

Hutchins and Gasper petitioned for review of the Court of Appeals’ judgment affirming the district court’s ruling in favor of La Plata Mountain Resources, Inc. (La Plata), in an action brought by La Plata to collect on certain debentures issued by Leadville Mining and foreclose on a deed of trust securing the debts. Although Leadville’s authorized agent had signed documents acknowledging its obligations for the amounts owed on other similar debentures held by Hutchins and Gasper, which were secured by the same deed of trust, the Court of Appeals reasoned that because these documents lacked the two-thirds consent required for modification of the debentures, the included acknowledgments were insufficient to restart the applicable limitations period. The Court of Appeals therefore concluded that the statute of limitations had run on any action by Hutchins and Gasper to collect on the debts or foreclose on the deed of trust.

The Supreme Court reversed. The documents in question were in writing, were signed by Leadville, and contained a clear and unqualified acknowledgement of the debt owed to Hutchins and Gasper. Therefore, they constituted a new promise to pay, establishing a new accrual date and effectively extending the limitations period on collection of the debt.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Ambiguity Must Exist Within Four Corners of Contract Before Looking at Extrinsic Evidence

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Hansen v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co. on Monday, June 20, 2016.

Insurance—Ambiguity, Uncertainty, or Conflict—Persons Covered—Unfair Practices—Bad Faith—Penalties.

Respondent Hansen was injured in a motor vehicle accident and presented an underinsured motorist claim to petitioner American Family Mutual Insurance Company (American Family). As proof of insurance, Hansen offered lienholder statements issued to her by American Family’s local agent that identified her as the named insured at the time of the accident. American Family’s own records, however, indicated that the named insureds on the policy at the time of the accident were Hansen’s mother and stepfather. In reliance upon the policy as reflected in its own records, American Family determined that Hansen was not insured under the policy and denied coverage. Hansen filed an action against American Family asserting, among other things, a statutory bad faith claim for unreasonable delay or denial of benefits under C.R.S. §§ 24 10-3-1115 and -1116. The trial court ruled that the deviation in the records issued by American Family’s agent and those produced by its own underwriting department created an ambiguity in the insurance policy as to the identity of the named insured, and instructed the jury that an ambiguous contract must be construed against the insurer. The jury found that American Family had delayed or denied payment without a reasonable basis for its action. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding that the lienholder statements created an ambiguity.

The Supreme Court held that because the insurance contract unambiguously named Hansen’s mother and stepfather as the insureds at the time of the accident, the trial court and Court of Appeals erred in relying on extrinsic evidence to find an ambiguity in the insurance contract. Accordingly, American Family’s denial of Hansen’s claim in reliance on the unambiguous insurance contract was reasonable, and American Family cannot be held liable under C.R.S. §§ 10-3-1115 and -1116 for statutory bad faith. The judgment was reversed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 6/20/2016

On Monday, June 20, 2016, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued three published opinions and one unpublished opinion.

Carr v. Ferkam Inc.

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