August 20, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5) and “Plausibility” Standard Do Not Apply to C.R.C.P. 16.2 Motions

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Marriage of Durie on Thursday, September 20, 2018.

Division of Marital Property—C.R.C.P. 16.2(e)(10)Post-Dissolution Proceeding—C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5).

Three years after a decree was entered incorporating a separation agreement dividing the parties’ marital property, wife moved under C.R.C.P. 16.2(e)(10) to reallocate proceeds from husband’s post-decree sale of business assets. She alleged that husband had failed to disclose facts that materially impacted the value of the parties’ business assets. In response, husband filed a motion to dismiss wife’s motion. The district court applied the plausibility standard in Warne and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 554–56 (2007), and granted husband’s motion to dismiss. Wife moved for attorney fees, but the district court did not rule on her request.

On appeal, wife contended that the district court erred in dismissing her motion. After briefing, but before argument, a division of the court of appeals decided In re Marriage of Runge, 415 P.3d 884 (Colo.App. 2018), concluding that Rule 12(b)(5) and the Warne plausibility standard do not apply to a Rule 16.2(e)(10) motion. The court agreed with Runge and concluded that the district court erred in dismissing wife’s motion under that standard.

The court also rejected husband’s argument that C.R.C.P. 9(b), which requires that pleadings asserting fraud or mistake must allege the circumstances with particularity, applied in this context. Rule 16(e)(10) does not refer to fraud, but to misstatements or omissions. While some claims not denominated as fraud may be subject to the Rule 9(b) pleading requirements, the Rule 9(b) particularity requirement does not apply to Rule 16.2(e)(10) motions.

The parties also disagreed as to whether a movant under Rule 16.2(e)(10) can make allegations based on information and belief. The court concluded that Rule 8(e)(1) allows allegations based on information and belief in the context of a Rule 16.2(e)(10) motion, and wife properly included allegations based on information and belief in her motion.

However, wife’s allegations here did not enable the district court to conclude that her motion was sufficient on its face. The court instructed that (1) given Rule 16.2(e)(10)’s lack of applicable standard for determining a motion under the rule, a preponderance of the evidence standard should apply and the moving party bears the burden of proof; and (2) wife is entitled to undertake discovery in support of her motion.

The court further concluded that wife is entitled to seek attorney fees under C.R.S. § 14-10-119 on remand, but is not entitled to attorney fees under C.R.S. § 13-17-102. The district court may also award wife appellate attorney fees in its discretion under C.R.S. § 14-10-119.

The order was reversed and the case was remanded.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.