July 17, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: “Suicide, Sane or Insane” Means Intentional Commission of Self-Injurious Act

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Renfandt v. New York Life Insurance Co. on Monday, June 4, 2018.

Life insurance Policies—Suicide Exclusion Clauses.

In this opinion, the Supreme Court answered a question of state law certified by the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. The Court was asked to interpret the meaning of the words “suicide, sane or insane” when used in life insurance policies. The Court concluded that, under Colorado law, a life insurance policy exclusion for “suicide, sane or insane” excludes coverage only if the insured, whether sane or insane at the time, committed an act of self-destruction with the intent to kill himself.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: One-year Statute of Limitations Does Not Apply to Bad Faith Actions Under C.R.S. § 10-3-1116(1)

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Rooftop Restoration, Inc. v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co. on Tuesday, May 29, 2018.

Unreasonable Delay and Denial of Insurance Benefits—Statute of Limitations—Statutory Interpretation.

The supreme court considered a certified question from the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. Specifically, the court determined whether the one-year statute of limitations in C.R.S. § 13-80-103(1)(d) governs actions under C.R.S. § 10-3-1116(1), which creates a cause of action to address the unreasonable delay or denial of insurance benefits. The court concluded that the one-year statute of limitations does not apply to actions brought under C.R.S. § 10-3-1116(1) because the legislature did not intend C.R.S. § 10-3-1116(1) to operate as a penalty within the context of the statutory scheme.

The certified question was answered in the negative and the case was returned to the district court for further proceedings.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Application Period Open for Magistrate Judge Vacancy on U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado

On April 14, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado announced a vacancy for a Magistrate Judge. The position is part-time for a term of four years and is located in Durango, Colorado. The duties of the magistrate judge are outlined in 28 U.S.C. § 636, as follows:

In criminal cases, the duties of the part-time Magistrate Judge in Durango are specified in the Western Slope protocol. They include: (1) issuance of search warrants; (2) conducting preliminary proceedings; (3) presiding over the trial and disposition of misdemeanor cases; and (4) upon reference, hearing and making recommendations on pretrial motions and, upon consent of the parties, conducting change of plea hearings and giving appropriate advisements in accordance with Fed. R. Crim. P. 11 in felony cases. In civil cases, the duties of a part-time magistrate judge include: (1) conducting various pretrial matters and evidentiary proceedings on delegation from a district judge, and (2) under certain specified conditions, trial and disposition of civil cases upon the consent of the parties.

Qualified applicants must:

  1. Be, and for the prior five years have been, a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of a state, the District of Columbia, the  Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Territory of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or the Virgin Islands of the United States;
  2. Have been engaged in the active practice of law for a period of at least five years (with some substitutes authorized);
  3. Be competent to perform all the duties of the office. This includes, but is not limited to being of good moral character, being emotionally stable and mature, being committed to equal justice under the law, being in good health, being patient and courteous, and being capable of deliberation and decisiveness;
  4. Be less than seventy years old; and
  5. Not be related to a judge of the district court.

Additionally, applicants must complete an FBI full-field investigation and an IRS tax check.

Applications are available on the U.S. District Court’s website, and must be submitted via email to cod_magistratejudge_durangosubmissions@cod.uscourts.gov. Applications must be received by 5:00 p.m. on May 18, 2018, to be considered. Questions from applicants may be directed to Mrs. Louise Wilson, Human Resources Administrator, at (303) 335-2490.

For more information about the position, click here.

Colorado Supreme Court: Wage Claim Act Claims Limited to Two or Three Years Prior to Termination

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Hernandez v. Ray Domenico Farms, Inc. on Monday, March 5, 2018.

C.A.R. 21.1— Certified Questions of State Law—Colorado Wage Claim Act—Statute of Limitations—Statutory Construction.

The Colorado Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction under C.A.R. 21.1 to answer a certified question of law from the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado regarding how far back in time a terminated employee’s unpaid wage claims can reach under the Colorado Wage Claim Act, C.R.S. §§ 8-4-101 to -123. The court held that, under the plain language of C.R.S. § 8-4-109, a terminated employee may seek any wages or compensation that were unpaid at the time of termination; however, the right to seek such wages or compensation is subject to the statute of limitations found in C.R.S. § 8-4-122. That statute of limitations begins to run when the wages or compensation first become due and payable and thus limits a terminated employee to claims for the two years (three for willful violations) immediately preceding termination.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Amendments to District of Colorado Local Rules Open for Public Comment

On Tuesday, September 19, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado released a redline of the proposed amendments to its local rules. The amendments will be effective December 1, 2017. Comments must be submitted by October 19, 2017, to LocalRule_Comments@cod.uscourts.gov or via U.S. Mail to the Clerk of the Court, United States District Court, Attn: Legal Officer, Alfred A. Arraj U.S. Courthouse, 901 19th Street, Denver, Colorado 80294. Comments should specify to which rule they refer.

A summary of the changes to the local rules is available here:

D.C.COLO.LCivR 7.1(b) and (d) MOTIONS – (b) Exceptions to the Duty to Confer; (d) Motion, Response and Reply, Time for Serving and Filing; Length. (b) Entry of appearance and motions to withdraw are excepted from the list of motions requiring conferral of the parties or counsel; and (d) summary judgment motions are excluded from special treatment
D.C.COLO.LCivR 8.1 IN FORMA PAUPERIS PARTY AND PRISONER PLEADINGS Initial Review authorized for In Forma Pauperis filers, more closely following the statute; more specific instructions to pro se parties; former prisoners who bring “prison” actions now included.
D.C.COLO.LCivR 15.1(b) Amendment or Supplementation by Motion Removes exception for prisoner litigants; supplements to pleadings added.
D.C.COLO.LCivR 40.1(c) Direct Assignment to Magistrate Judges Adds another exception to direct assignment — cases where an order of referral has already been filed.
SECTION II – Criminal Rules
D.C.COLO.LCrR 47.1 PUBLIC ACCESS TO CASES, DOCUMENTS,          AND PROCEEDINGS (a) Adds judicial authorization to broaden levels of restriction or be more specific regarding access; (f) restricts information about parties posting any bond; broadens language about possible restricted CJA filings.
Section III – Local Patent Rules
(No Changes)
(No Changes)
SECTION V – Attorney Rules
D.C.COLO.LAttyR 5 ENTRY AND WITHDRAWAL OF APPEARANCE AND MAINTENANCE OF CONTACT INFORMATION (b) Provides more details as to counsel’s responsibilities for withdrawal from limited representation.
D.C.COLO.LAttyR 6 DISCIPLINARY PANEL AND COMMITTEE ON CONDUCT Memorializes the selection criteria for Committee on Conduct membership.
D.C.COLO.LAttyR 15 CIVIL PRO BONO REPRESENTATION (a) Updates Civil Pro Bono Program to allow appointment of both limited and general representation pro bono counsel;
(e) Expands unrepresented parties’ eligibility to include potential for appointment of counsel during the initial review process; and acknowledges that appointment of counsel for defendants/respondents is authorized; and
(f) Appointment procedure includes limited representation


Courthouse of the U.S. District Court Closed on Friday, December 9, 2016

The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado announced a courthouse closure. On Friday, December 9, 2016, from 12:45 to 6 p.m., the courthouse will be closed for business due to a law enforcement training exercise. The Alfred A. Arraj Courthouse will be closed to the public. The Byron G. Rogers Courthouse will remain open, but no court business will be conducted. Court business in the Durango and Grand Junction courthouses will be conducted as scheduled. All electronic systems to include CM/ECF and PACER will remain in operation during this time period. For more information, click here.

District of Colorado Local Rules Amended, Effective December 1, 2016

The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado has adopted changes to its local rules, effective December 1, 2016. The changes include a new Rule 2.1, “Forms of Action,” and an entire section on Local Patent Rules.

New Rule 2.1 clarifies that a proceeding not defined as a civil action under F.R.C.P. 2 should be filed as a civil miscellaneous (“mc”) or registered judgment (“rj”) action only if included in the List of Miscellaneous Cases. Rule 5.3 was amended by the addition of a subparagraph (c) dealing with written discovery requests or responses. The subparagraph specifies that other than in prisoner cases or as otherwise ordered, discovery requests shall be submitted by email or in other non-paper form. There were several other minor changes to various rules.

Section III on the Local Patent Rules is a comprehensive section dealing with the handling of patent claims in the U.S. District Court. The local rules are to be cited as D.C.Colo.LPtR _. The rules are to be known as the Local Rules of Practice of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado – Patent Rules. The rules specify that the civil local rules apply except as inconsistent with the patent rules. Topics addressed in the local patent rules include scheduling conferences and orders, discovery and confidentiality, infringement, invalidity, declaratory judgment, reliance on counsel’s opinion, claim construction, final infringement and invalidity contentions, and word limits. The remaining sections were renumbered accordingly.

Comments about the local rules may be submitted to the Advisory Committee on the Local Rules via email. For more information about the local rule changes, click here. For a redline of the changes, click here.

Comment Period Open for Proposed Changes to District of Colorado Local Rules

On Monday, September 26, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado proposed changes to its local rules. The proposed changes will take effect December 1, 2016.

The district court invites public comment on the proposed changes; comments may be submitted via email to LocalRule_Comments@cod.uscourts.gov or via U.S. Mail to Clerk of the Court, United States District Court, Attn: Edward Butler, Legal Officer, Alfred A. Arraj U.S. Courthouse, Room A-105, 901 19th Street, Denver, Colorado 80294. Comments should specify to which local rule they relate. All comments must be received by October 26, 2016, to be considered.

The comments include a new Section III, “Local Patent Rules,” which comprehensively addresses patent filings in the district court. There are many other changes to the existing rules, including updates to rules about written discovery requests, changes to reflect filings by unrepresented prisoners, disposition of conventionally submitted materials after the time for filing appeals has passed, and more. A redline of the changes is available here.

For more information regarding the updates to the District of Colorado Local Rules, click here.

Application Period Open for Bankruptcy Judgeship in District of Colorado

BankruptcyCourtThe U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado announced that it is accepting applications for a bankruptcy judge in the District of Colorado. The position is located in Denver and will be available January 4, 2017, pending successful completion of a background investigation. Bankruptcy judges are appointed for 14-year terms pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 152.

Qualified applicants must be members in good standing of the highest bar of at least one state, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and must be in good standing in every bar in which the applicant is a member. Applicants must possess, and have a reputation for, integrity and good character; possess, and have demonstrated, a commitment to equal justice under the law; possess, and have demonstrated, outstanding legal ability and competence; indicate by demeanor, character, and personality that the applicant would exhibit judicial temperament if appointed; and be of sound physical and mental health sufficient to perform the essential duties of the office. Applicants must have been engaged in the practice of law or other suitable law-related occupation for the last five years, must not be related by blood or marriage to any judge of the Tenth Circuit or District of Colorado or a member of the Tenth Circuit Judicial Council, must comply with financial disclosure requirements, and must be willing to serve.

Application forms are available on the Tenth Circuit website and will be accepted through August 15, 2016. For more information, click here.

Application Period Open for Vacancies on U.S. District Court Committee on Conduct

The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado announced on Monday, July 13, 2015, that it is seeking applications for three vacancies on its Committee on Conduct. The Committee on Conduct investigates and acts upon complaints against members of the U.S. District Court bar, considers applications for reinstatement or readmission, and addresses matters concerning attorney disability.

Eligible applicants for the committee vacancies must have practiced law for ten years or more and have no disciplinary record; be licensed to practice by the Colorado Supreme Court; have been a member in good standing of the U.S. District Court bar for at least five years with no disciplinary record; and possess experience that makes the applicant especially qualified to investigate matters governed by the U.S. District Court’s disciplinary rules.

Applicants must submit the application packet in PDF format to COC_submissions@cod.uscourts.gov.

Frederick Skillern: Real Estate Case Law — Titles and Title Insurance (5)

Editor’s note: This is Part 20 of a series of posts in which Denver-area real estate attorney Frederick Skillern provides summaries of case law pertinent to real estate practitioners (click here for previous posts). These updates originally appeared as materials for the 32nd Annual Real Estate Symposium in July 2014.

By Frederick B. Skillernfrederick-b-skillern

US Bank, N.A. v. Stewart Title Guaranty Company
Civil Action No. 13-cv-00117-PAB-KLM
United States District Court For the District Of Colorado
2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36876 (March 20, 2014)

Because Colorado’s appellate courts tend to not “select for publication” any number of interesting cases involving title insurance, I make a note here of a summary judgment order of Judge Brimmer in the federal district court in Denver. There is an allegation in a case brought by homeowner X that a deed of trust recorded by Wells Fargo securing a loan to Y was not a valid lien, as a recorded quit claim deed from X to Y was forged. X first sues Wells Fargo – by this time the loan has been assigned to U.S, Bank. The court discusses whether there is a duty to defend U.S. Bank’s insured title in a lawsuit before U.S. Bank is added to the litigation – the original title claim was made by Wells Fargo. The court reasons “no,” based on a thorough review of the policy language. Paragraph 4(a) of the Conditions and Stipulations states that Stewart Title’s obligation extends only to “the defense of an insured.”

It also reviews a claim that the insurer had a duty to initiate action to clear title to U.S. Bank’s lien prior to the date that U.S. Bank was served in the underlying litigation. The court surveys the cases on whether the insurer “may” or “must” take an affirmative action when it is notified that an insured may have a title issue. The court agrees that under these facts, no such duty was triggered until U.S. Bank – the real party in interest – was named in the suit. Although a title insurer may take action to clear an insured’s title, any duty is subject to the Conditions and Stipulations in the policy. “These policy provisions do not support U.S. Bank’s assertion that the policy creates a duty to defend the title independent of the insurer’s duty to defend the insured. If anything, these provisions reinforce the interpretation of the policy that Stewart Title’s duties are defined in relationship to the insured. The policy’s stated purpose is “a contract of indemnity against actual monetary loss or damage sustained or incurred by the insured” and Paragraph 7(c) states that Stewart Title will only pay “those costs, attorneys’ fees and expenses incurred in accordance with Section 4 of these Conditions and Stipulations.” (Emphasis added).

Frederick B. Skillern, Esq., is a director and shareholder with Montgomery Little & Soran, P.C., practicing in real estate and related litigation and appeals. He serves as an expert witness in cases dealing with real estate, professional responsibility and attorney fees, and acts as a mediator and arbitrator in real estate cases. Before joining Montgomery Little in 2003, Fred was in private practice in Denver for 6 years with Carpenter & Klatskin and for 10 years with Isaacson Rosenbaum. He served as a district judge for Colorado’s Eighteenth Judicial District from 2000 through 2002. Fred is a graduate of Dartmouth College, and received his law degree at the University of Colorado in 1976, in another day and time in which the legal job market was simply awful.

Application Period Open for Bankruptcy Judge Vacancy in District of Colorado

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit seeks applicants for a bankruptcy judgeship in the District of Colorado. The position will be created effective January 4, 2016, and will be in Denver, Colorado.

Eligible applicants must be a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of any state, DC, or Puerto Rico, and must be in good standing in every other bar in which he or she is admitted. Applicants must be committed to equal justice under the law, have good character, possess and have demonstrated outstanding legal ability, exhibit judicial temperament, and be of sound mental and physical health. Applicants may not be related by blood or marriage to any other judge of the Tenth Circuit or District of Colorado or any member of the Judicial Council of the Tenth Circuit. Finally, applicants must have been admitted to practice law for at least five years.

Application forms are available from the Tenth Circuit website, and must be received no later than May 22, 2015. For more information about the vacancy, or to obtain an application form, click here.