August 14, 2018

Archives for November 8, 2016

Colorado Supreme Court: Plain Language of Statute Prohibits Offsets for Medical Payment Benefits

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Calderon v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co. on Monday, November 7, 2016.

Statutory Construction—Automobile Insurance Coverage—Automobile Insurance Setoffs— Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Policy Coverage.

Calderon sustained injuries caused by an uninsured driver. Calderon was insured under policies issued by American Family Mutual Insurance Co., which paid the $5,000 policy limit of Calderon’s medical payments (MedPay) coverage but disputed the amount due under the uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. Calderon filed suit, and the jury returned a verdict of $68,338.97 in his favor. The trial court reduced the award, pursuant to a provision of the policy agreement, by the $5,000 that had already been paid under MedPay coverage. The Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed, interpreting the language of C.R.S. § 10-4-609(1)(c), which prohibits setoffs from “[t]he amount of the [UM/UIM] coverage available pursuant to this section,” as barring only those setoffs that would reduce the coverage limit, or $300,000. The Colorado Supreme Court reversed and held that “[t]he amount of the [UM/UIM] coverage available pursuant to this section” refers to the amount of UM/UIM coverage available on a particular claim (here, $68,338.97), rather than the amount available in the abstract (here, $300,000). Therefore, C.R.S. § 10-4-609(1) barred the setoff of MedPay payments from Calderon’s UM/UIM claim.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Police Officers Are Public Servants as Contemplated by C.R.S. § 18-8-306

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Sena on Thursday, November 3, 2016.

Defendant was a passenger in a vehicle driven by his cousin when Greeley Police Officer Bridge pulled the vehicle over for a traffic infraction. Officer Pfeiler, who was assisting, asked defendant for his name and birth date. Defendant provided the name of a relative and a birth date that was not his own. The officers could not find any record of a person with the name and birth date provided by Defendant. The officers let the vehicle go with a warning, but Officer Pfeiler investigated the false name further and found a picture of Defendant, who happened to share a last name with the vehicle’s driver. The two officers agreed with certainty that the person in the picture was the same person who was the vehicle’s passenger. They then located an active arrest warrant for Defendant from a neighboring county.

Defendant was charged with one count of attempt to influence a public servant pursuant to C.R.S. § 18-8-306. A jury convicted him and he was sentenced to 6 months of probation with 90 days in the county jail and 100 hours of community service. Defendant appealed, arguing (1) the prosecution’s evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to support his conviction for attempt to influence a public servant, and (2) the district court erred by taking judicial notice of his outstanding warrant at trial and improperly instructing the jury on judicial notice.

The Colorado Court of Appeals first addressed Defendant’s contention that police officers do not fall within the statutory definition of “public servant.” The court noted that the statute includes any officer or employee of government, whether elected or appointed, and police officers clearly fell within the statutory definition. Defendant argued that the phrase “whether elected or appointed” should be construed to exclude any government employees who were not elected or appointed, but the court disagreed, noting that even if it agreed with Defendant’s construction the employees were “appointed” for purposes of the statute. Defendant also argued that because other statutes excluded “peace officers” from their definitions of public servant, they should be excluded here as well. The court of appeals disagreed, finding those statutes acknowledged that peace officers were generally considered public servants.

Defendant also argued that the prosecution could not prove his intent in providing the false name. However, the prosecution only needed to provide sufficient evidence for a rational trier of fact to conclude that Defendant anticipated a different result if he would have provided his true identity. The court found that a rational trier of fact could have concluded that the evidence was sufficient that Defendant intended to alter the officers’ actions through deceit.

Defendant also contended the court erred in taking judicial notice of his arrest warrant. The court of appeals perceived no error. The fact that the warrant arose in another jurisdiction was of no consequence, and the court’s taking of judicial notice did not invade the province of the jury because the warrant was not an element of the crime charged.

The court of appeals affirmed Defendant’s conviction.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 11/7/2016

On Monday, November 7, 2016, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued two published opinions and three unpublished opinions.

Ridgell-Boltz v. Colvin

Rupp v. Pearson

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners v. Williams

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