Vessels v. Hickerson, 2012COA28 (Feb. 16, 2012)

For a primer on the interplay between equity and law, read this case.  It is a collection action on a promissory note that matured in 1999. The trial court held it was timely filed in 2009 under the partial payment doctrine.  That doctrine says the statute of limitations for suing on a note, six years, begins anew upon each partial payment. The trial court also found all the elements of the equitable defense of laches were met, and barred the claims. The court of appeals reversed, holding laches is not available as an equitable defense to a timely filed action to recover a debt.  The doctrine is not an equitable extension of the limitations period. Rather, courts merely interpret and apply the statute. Separation of powers concerns do not, under the facts presented, permit an equitable doctrine to shorten the legislative determination of the time within which an action can be brought.

[Certiorari Granted]

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its Judgement and Opinion on January 13, 2014, REVERSING the Court of Appeals.


Filed under Constitutional, Contracts

3 responses to “Vessels v. Hickerson, 2012COA28 (Feb. 16, 2012)

  1. The Court of Appeals has explained the doctrine of laches as follows: “laches permits a court to deny a party equitable relief. The elements of laches are: (1) full knowledge of the facts; (2) unconscionable or unreasonable delay in the assertion of an available remedy; and (3) intervening reliance by and prejudice to another. Whether the elements of laches have been established is a question of fact. A party asserting laches as a basis for summary judgment must establish that no genuine issue of material fact remains, that the other party unreasonably delayed the proceedings, and that such delay caused substantial prejudice.” Keller Cattle Co. v. Stephen R. Allison, No.00CA1118, 55 P.3d 257 (Aug. 1, 2002). (Internal citations omitted).


  2. Pingback: March Supreme Court Certiorari Grants and Issues Justices Would Have Granted | Colorado Litigation Report ™

  3. Pingback: Alva Hickerson v. Thomas Vessels, 2014CO2 (January 13, 2014) | Colorado Litigation Report ™

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