Report: Colorado verging on 'Judicial Hellhole' status

Monday, December 10, 2018

Anyone wondering why insurance premiums are on the rise in Colorado need look no further than four recent decisions by the Colorado Supreme Court.  Those rulings expand liability and increase litigation costs, so consumers can expect to pay more for insurance coverage.

After all, insurance companies simply set premiums to cover their anticipated costs.

As a result, a new report by the American Tort Reform Association finds Colorado teetering on the verge of becoming a “Judicial Hellhole.”

 

Liability-expanding decisions by the Colorado Supreme Court coupled with the prospects of a pro-plaintiff legislative agenda has created an unfair and unbalanced environment for those who face lawsuits in the Centennial State. The state appears to be moving in a dangerous direction and if it does not correct course, the Colorado Supreme Court or the state may find itself in unwanted company on next year’s Judicial Hellholes list.

Four Colorado Supreme Court decisions issued in 2018 have exposed insurers to expanded liability, which will lead to higher rates for consumers.

Each of these decisions addressed the responsibility of insurers to promptly pay valid insurance claims. That is a reasonable and common requirement, however, Colorado takes an outlier approach. Under Colorado’s bad faith law, a person can recover the amount of the covered benefit that was improperly delayed or denied, plus two times that value (essentially, triple damages), plus attorneys’ fees and costs.

Read the full ATRA Judicial Hellholes report HERE.

Meanwhile, Forbes' Best States for Business ranks Colorado 8th overall, but 40th in costs and regulations as the state's worsening lawsuit climate (now ranked 35th) becomes a bothersome factor.


 

 

'Common Sense' legislators to be honored by CCJL at Oct. 24 event

Sunday, September 23, 2018

DENVER — Colorado Civil Justice League has announced winners of its Common Sense in the Courtroom Awards, given to state legislators who have demonstrated a commitment to curtailing lawsuit abuse.

Awards will be presented at CCJL’s Legislative Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the Denver Four Seasons.

CCJL is the only organization in Colorado exclusively dedicated to stopping lawsuit abuse while preserving a system of civil justice that fairly compensates legitimate victims.

“Common Sense in the Courtroom requires justice for those who have been wronged, balanced by fairness for those who may be wrongfully accused,” said CCJL executive director Mark Hillman.

The best news from the 2018 legislative session was the bills that didn’t pass.Late in the legislative session, two bills were introduced to discourage arbitration – an alternative to litigation that often saves time and money.  The alternative to arbitration?  Hiring a lawyer and filing a lawsuit, of course.

Other bills were introduced to address business practices that result in perceived greed or inequity.  The irony, however, is that in each of these bills the remedy to alleged “corporate greed” was to create new incentives for profiteering by personal injury lawyers.

"At CCJL, we are grateful for the bipartisan support of legislators who understand the importance of an efficient and balanced court system to our state's economy," Hillman said.

Common Sense in the Courtroom Award recipients include:

  • Representatives Jon Becker (Fort Morgan), Susan Beckman (Littleton), Perry Buck (Greeley), Terri Carver (Colorado Springs), Marc Catlin (Montrose), Phil Covarrubias (Brighton), Justin Everett (Littleton), Matt Gray (Broomfield), Chris Hansen (Denver), Steve Humphrey (Eaton), Tracy Kraft-Tharp (Arvada), Lois Landgraf (Fountain), Polly Lawrence (Douglas County), Tim Leonard (Evergreen), Kimmi Lewis (Kim), Larry Liston (Colorado Springs), Paul Lundeen (Monument), Hugh McKean (Loveland), Patrick Neville (Franktown), Dan Pabon (Denver), Bob Rankin (Carbondale), Kim Ranson (Douglas County), Judy Reyher (La Junta), Lori Saine (Firestone), Shane Sandridge (Colorado Springs), Lang Sias (Arvada), Dan Thurlow (Grand Junction), Kevin Van Winkle (Highlands Ranch), Yeulin Willett (Grand Junction), David Williams (Colorado Springs), Jim Wilson (Salida), Alex "Skinny" Winkler (Northglenn) and Cole Wist (Centennial).

  • Senators Rachel Zenzinger (Arvada), Angela Williams (Denver), Jack Tate (Centennial), Jerry Sonnenberg (Sterling), Jim Smallwood (Castle Rock), Ray Scott (Grand Junction), Kevin Priola (Brighton), Tim Neville (Littleton), Beth Martinez Humenik (Thornton), Vicki Marble (Fort Collins), Kevin Lundberg (Berthoud), Kent Lambert (Colorado Springs), Cheri Jahn (Wheat Ridge), Chris Holbert (Parker), Owen Hill (Colorado Springs), Kevin Grantham (Canon City), Bob Gardner (Colorado Springs), Larry Crowder (Alamosa), Don Coram (Montrose), John Cooke (Greeley) and Randy Baumgardner (Hot Sulphur Springs).

    This year's luncheon is sponsored by American Furniture Warehouse, Colorado Association of Mechanical and Plumbing Contractors, State Farm, HuschBlackwell, Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell and COPIC.

  • Supreme Court backs CCJL in judgment interest case

    Monday, September 10, 2018

    Today, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a claimant is not entitled to interest on damages if no court action is filed.  The opinion written by Justice Brian Boatright supports the position taken by Colorado Civil Justice League in an amicus brief authored by Lee Mickus of Taylor Anderson LLP.

    “We hold that, under the plain language of the (statute), an insured is entitled to prejudgment interest only after (1) an action is brought, (2) the plaintiff claims damages and interest in the complaint, (3) there is a finding of damages by a jury or court, and (4) judgment is entered,” wrote Justice Boatright.

    In this case, Joel Munoz was injured in a car crash and reached a settlement with his insurer, American Family.  Munoz asked for interest on the claim, but American Family Insurance declined to pay interest because Colorado law requires interest only after a judgment, not after a private settlement.

    The high court's finding upheld an early decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals.

    Read the Supreme Court opinion HERE.