Monthly Archives: May 2013

Taylor and Alexa Lobato, et. al. and S. Ortega and B. Ortega, et. al. , v. The State of Colorado; Colorado State Board of Education; Robert K. Hammond, as Commissioner of Education; and John Hickenlooper, as Governor, 2013CO30 (May 28, 2013)

Catch 22: “A situation in which a desired outcome … is impossible to attain because of a set of inherently illogical … conditions.” Amer. Heritage Dictionary. Plaintiffs sought to remedy inherent disparities in an educational system uniformly inequitable: the wealthiest district can raise $219,000 per pupil and the poorest only $1,100. However, the standard is “thorough and uniform.” The Court held this means complete, comprehensive, and consistent, not equal. Also, the Constitution requires Local Control, so districts must control locally-raised education funds without the state mandating how such funds are used. The system is constitutional because it meets these standards. The dissents disagreed, finding the system’s disparities are not rationally related to the standards; they would also require the legislature to equitably fund its educational mandates.

For a link to all of the briefs filed in this case, click HERE.
(The CLR does not endorse or reject the views of “Children’s Voices” whose website is linked here).

Prior Opinions
Note: justiciable means the ability of a court to issue an opinion on the substantive questions presented.

Court of Appeals No. 06CA0733 , issued January 24, 2008

Holding: “We conclude that as political subdivisions, the school districts lack standing, and that the parents’ challenge to the adequacy of school financing is a nonjusticiable political question.”

Supreme Court No. 08SC185, October 19, 2009

Holding: “We reverse the court of appeals’ holdings that the plaintiff school districts lack standing to sue the state and that the plaintiffs have alleged a nonjusticiable claim.”

Trial Court Opinion upon remand from the Supreme Court, December 9, 2011.

Holding: “The Court concludes that the Colorado public school finance system is not rationally related to the mandate to establish and maintain a thorough and uniform system of free public schools. On the contrary, the public school finance system is irrational, arbitrary, and severely underfunded. This results in the denial of the rights of the Individuals Plaintiffs guaranteed by Article IX, section 2 of the Colorado constitution and the rights and powers of the School Districts pursuant to Article IX, sections 2 and 15.”

1 Comment

Filed under Appellate Review Challenged, Constitutional, Government, Interlocutory Review

Fidelity National Title Company, f/k/a Security Title Guaranty Company v. First American Title Insurance Company, 2013COA80 (May 23, 2013)

It was a $1million mistake. A title company (Agent) closed 2 loans, for 2 different banks, 2 months apart, assuring both banks that they were first position lienholders for the same property. The Agent’s underwriter eventually paid over $1 million to resolve the banks’ competing claims over foreclosure proceeds. Underwriter sued Agent, and won. Agent appealed, challenging the interpretation of their contract and the applicability of a statutory defense for reliance on a payoff statement. The court of appeals held: 1) Agent was an “escrow” because it “handled” money during the closings, 2) Agent couldn’t rely on a “payoff statement” under CRS 38-35-124.5, as it didn’t indicate the amounts owed to the actual creditor or holder of the debt, and 3) the contractual phrase “actual prejudice” meant “substantial detriment to the significant interests of the party.” Affirmed.

1 Comment

Filed under Appellate Review Challenged, Contracts, Insurance, Property

Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas, and Saxon Mortgage, v. Veronica E. Samora, 2013COA81 (May 23, 2013)

“Samora chose to accept … misrepresentations rather than … investigate the transaction after discovering the document was a warranty deed with the name of an individual [Wasia] she had never met.” (Opinion). Samora was the victim of a complex real estate fraud. As part of the fraud, she relied on misrepresentations about a warranty deed she signed, and unknowingly transferring title to Wasia. Wasia deeded the house to Saxon for a loan. Deutsche Bank (DB), Saxon’s trustee, sought to quiet title. The appellate court held that the Samora-Wasia deed was valid. As a consequence: 1) Samora’s claims accrued when she alerted the DA to the fraud, 2) there was no fraud in the factum because she knew she signed a deed, and 3) DB (who was not “closely related” to Saxon) was a holder in due course. Thus, the deed was not voided and the Wasia-Saxon deed was not a spurious lien. Title quieted in Saxon.

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Filed under Contracts, Corporations

Daryl Miller and Denver Police Protective Association v. City and County of Denver, 2013COA78 (May 23, 2013)

Police officers have a dangerous job. So, Denver’s City Charter and the City’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Denver Police Protective Association provide benefits for injured officers. In this case, the court of appeals analyzed those documents and held that an injured Denver Police Officer (DPO) is entitled to a maximum of one year disability leave at full salary, without regard to the temporary or permanent nature of his or her disability. But, a DPO’s one year of full-salary disability leave does not have to be used within a particular 365-day period but may be spread over multiple years. Although full-salary benefits last only one year, an injured DPO is also eligible for other benefits lasting longer than one year. The trial court upheld the city’s deduction of an officer’s benefits in excess of the one-year limit; a decision affirmed by the court of appeals.

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Filed under Administrative, Contracts, Government

Oasis Legal Finance, LLC, et. al., and Funding Holding, Inc., d/b/a LawCash v. John W. Suthers, as Attorney General; and Laura E. Udis, as the Administrator, Uniform Consumer Credit Code, 2013COA82 (May 23, 2013)

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” – Inigo Montoya, Princess Bride. Here, Plaintiffs pay tort plaintiffs while their cases are pending. Repayment depends on the net amount recovered (if any); and if recovery exceeds net proceeds, the debt is increased based on time. The Administrator of the Colorado Uniform Consumer Credit Code, CRS 5-1-101 to 13-103 (UCCC), found the agreements were unlawful “loans.” Plaintiffs disagreed and sued. The court of appeals, like the trial court, found for Administrator. Under the UCCC, a “loan” is a debt created by the lender’s payment, or agreement to pay, money to a consumer. A “debt” is either fixed (a specific sum due) or contingent (not presently fixed but may become fixed in the future). A debt is not, however, an unconditional promise to pay. Here, Plaintiffs’ payments were contingent debts and thus loans.

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Filed under Administrative, Contracts, Government

Tammy Hudak v. Medical Lien Management, Inc., 2013COA83 (May 23, 2013)

Move it or lose it. That is the general principle when it comes to litigation. But in this case, the trial court overlooked a fully-briefed pending motion and prematurely closed the case without proper notice to claimant. 13 months later, claimant filed a renewed motion. A new trial judge held the delay was too long, lacked mitigating circumstances, and was unexcused because it could have contacted or reminded the court about the pending motion. The judge dismissed the case. The court of appeals reversed, and though affirming the principles upon which the trial court relied — that a claimant has an affirmative duty to pursue pending motions and a duty to inquire about inaction — held the trial court abused its discretion because the claimant was not obligated to renew or remind the court about the pending motion, and had it done so, risked irritating the court. The case was reinstated.

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Filed under Proceedure

Certiorari Grants, Grant and Remand, and an Interesting Denial

The Supreme Court granted certiorari in three civil cases: one involving the governor’s authority to issue certain honorary proclamations and a taxpayer’s standing to bring such a challenge, and a second case to determine whether certain amendments to the fire department’s disciplinary system are subject to the collective bargaining provisions of the Denver City Charter.

In the third case the Court took the unusual action of granting certiorari as to whether the notice requirements pursuant to Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) were satisfied under 25 U.S.C. section 1912(a) (2001) and CRS 19-1-126, Colorado’s Children’s Code. It then remanded with instructions to the trial court that notice be given in accordance with the provisions of the ICWA and the Children’s Code.  The Court also provisionally vacated the trial court’s order terminating parental rights but held that the trial court’s judgment terminating parental rights “shall be reinstated and will stand affirmed if it is ultimately determined, after proper notice, that the child is not an Indian child. If the child is determined to be an Indian child, the trial court must proceed in accordance with the ICWA.” A copy of the original Order of the Court is here: 13SC176.

Please visit the Certiori tab for a complete statement of the issues granted.

Petitions sought pursuant to C.A.R. 50 — which are appeals directly to the Supreme Court prior to Court of Appeals review are rare. Even more rare is a grant. Par for the course, the following petition for CAR 50 review was denied and will therefore be addressed by the court of appeals in the first instance; and any appeal from that opinion will be pursuant to the normal certiorari review process under CAR 49.

No. 13SC85, Richard L. Anderson; Stephanie Allen; James N. Dreisbach, MD; Nicholas G. Muller; Ray Blum, MD; K. Mason Howard, MD; Susan E. Ljunghag, MD; Richard Schaler, MD; and Richard Parker, MD v. John W. Suthers, as the Attorney General for the State of Colorado; HealthOne, d/b/a The Colorado Health Foundation; HealthOne of Denver, Inc.,; and HCA-HealthOne, LLC, Court of Appeals Case No. 12CA2313

Petition for Writ of Certiorari Pursuant to C.A.R. 50 DENIED.

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Filed under Commentary