Michael Graham v. Zurich American Insurance Company, 2012COA188 (November 1, 2012)

Admit it if you are wrong, fix it, and move on. The trial court did that here. In this Colorado Wage Claim Act case, the dispute was whether the employer would be liable for unpaid wages under the statute. The jury said yes, but failed to add statutory penalties. To correct that error, the court had the jury revisit its verdict; it then found for the employer. That was error. Damages are not facts for a jury to decide if, as in this case, a statute provides for mandatory penalties that can be mechanically determined by applying the statute. But, post-verdict, the trial court realized its mistake, reconsidered, found for the employee, and awarded mandatory penalties. The court of appeals agreed that the trial court erred by having the jury revisit its initial findings, and held that, though the error was avoidable, the trial court properly reconsidered its first ruling and fixed the problem.




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