Health Grades, Inc. v. Christopher Boyer and Patrick Singson, 2012COA196 (November 8, 2012)

UPDATE: On January 31, 2013, the court of appeals modified its original opinion to include an entire section addressing a motion for rehearing by the Defendants. Defendant employees asserted the court should rehear the case. They argued that on remand they should not be subject to meeting a heightened standard of proof for sham litigation claims (arising from First Amendment protections for litigation activity) for their claims. They based the petition in part on the Supreme Court’s subsequent decision in General Steel Domestic Sales v. Bacheller, 2012CO68 (Nov. 27, 2012). The court denied rehearing and declined to withdraw the original opinion, holding that General Steel did not decide the issue of whether the heightened standard applied to private party disputes brought through a judicial proceeding.

REVISED OPINION: http://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Court_Of_Appeals/Opinion/2012/11CA1829%20modified-PD.pdf

Original Post:

“Sham litigation.” A cynic would call that phrase redundant. However, the First Amendment protects the rights of individuals to have their claims decided in civil courts, unless they are devoid of a reasonable factual basis; such claims are an abuse of process. In this case, Employer sues former Employees who allegedly started a competing business. Employees counterclaim stating the Employer’s case is an abuse of process. A jury dismisses all claims and finds in favor of defendant Employees on the counterclaim. Employer argues that because their claims went to the jury, they could not have been devoid of a reasonable factual basis, so the counterclaim should have been dismissed. The court of appeals held that the trial court erred by allowing the jury to decide the counterclaim, and remanded for the trial court to determine if Employer’s claims had a reasonable factual basis.

http://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Court_Of_Appeals/Opinion/2012/11CA1829-PD.pdf

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=8735&courtid=1

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4 Comments

Filed under Constitutional, Torts

4 responses to “Health Grades, Inc. v. Christopher Boyer and Patrick Singson, 2012COA196 (November 8, 2012)

  1. Pingback: General Steel Domestic Sales, LLC, d/b/a General Steel Corp. et. al., v. Harold Bacheller, III, 2012CO68 (November 27, 2012) | Colorado Litigation Report

  2. anonymous

    Interesting how the Employers sole argument against sham litigation was based on the Protect Our Mountain case that not three weeks later was overturned by the Colorado Supreme Court: http://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/Supreme_Court/Opinions/2010/10SC403.pdf

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  3. Anonymous 11/28/12 2:54 — You are correct that General Steel v. Bacheller (also summarized by the CLR) addresses the POME standards. However, General Steel simply said that POME did not apply in that case because the “process” being abused was a private arbitration. In Health Grades, it was not a private “process” being abused because the process used was the public court system. The First Amended applies to government actions, not private interactions. So, POME First Amendment protection was not overturned in General Steel, and the holding in Health Grades, as a case addressing who decides if POME standards have been met, is still good law, as is POME itself.

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