Twice the covered benefits plus attorneys’ fees and costs is what an insurance company must pay if it acts in bad faith when deciding an uninsured or underinsured insurance claim under CRS 10-3-1116. In this case, the claimant/plaintiff was awarded $0 damages on a statutory bad faith claim, but ultimately recovered three times the amount of UIM coverage available under the policy: double for statutory bad faith and a third under the settlement of a bad faith breach of contract claim. The court of appeals affirmed. First, it held that the policies were ambiguous on the identity of the insured, allowing the jury to conclude claimant was an insured. Then it held that even if the question of coverage was fairly debatable, delay or denying coverage was not necessarily reasonable. And finally, a successful statutory claim independently entitles a claimant to double the covered benefits.
“Are we there yet?” “Are we there yet?” In this case, addressing the finality of a trial court judgment, the court of appeals said “No!” Plaintiff brought a first-party claim against her insurance company under CRS 10-3-1116 for unreasonable delay or denial of payment and for bad faith breach of an insurance contract. The jury found for plaintiff and awarded damages on both counts. The statute, however, provides for two kinds of damages: 1) attorneys’ fees and costs, and 2) two times the covered benefit. Thus, attorneys’ fees are a component of damages. Until a final order on damages issues, no final judgment has entered. Without final judgment, the court of appeals lacks jurisdiction. The insurance company appealed judgment on liability before all claims had been resolved and before attorney fee damages had been ordered. Thus, the court dismissed the appeal.
Suing for civil rights violations is complicated. Concluding a years-long controversy regarding the termination of Ward Churchill, the Supreme Court held that the CU Regents were absolutely immune from suit for claims arising from his termination. Churchill was given 5 internal hearings, presented evidence, examined witnesses, and made arguments under a clear standard of review. The Court held that the Regents are immune from suit for their quasi-judicial decisions. Plus, CRCP 106 review can also prevent constitutional violations. The acrimony between CU and Churchill meant that reinstatement plus wages was not equitable or justified. Finally, even if the investigation was bad faith retaliation for free speech, there is no clear law on that point, so, the Regents could not know if they actually violated his Constitutional rights, and thus also had qualified immunity.