Colorado Supreme Court called 'point of light' for plausibility decision

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A decision by the Colorado Supreme Court to adopt the federal plausibility pleading standard in civil litigation earned a rare "point-of-light" designation from the American Tort Reform Association in its annual Judicial Hellholes report, which routinely excoriates the worst examples of state courts stretching the law, logic and common sense to advance frivolous lawsuits.

In a 4-3 decision authored by Justice Nathan Coats, the court dismissed a plaintiff's lawsuit for "failure to state a plausible claim for relief." Under the former "notice pleading" standard, plaintiffs were not required to state a plausible claim.

Think about that for a minute. Prior to this decision, a lawsuit could continue even if the plaintiff's claim was not plausible.

"It's regrettable that this common sense decision resulted in a 4-3 split on the high court," stated Mark Hillman, executive director of Colorado Civil Justice League which advocates for "common sense in the courtroom."

Joining Justice Coats in the majority were Chief Justice Nancy Rice and Justices Allison Eid and Brian Boatright. Dissenting were Justices Richard Gabriel, William Hood III and Monica Marquez.

CCJL submitted a friend-of-the-court brief - authored jointly by Jordan Lipp and Geoffrey Klingsporn of Davis Graham & Stubbs and by Evan Stephenson and Thomas Werge of Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell - in support of the plausibility standard.