“Don’t wait for the last judgment – it takes place every day.” Albert Camus. In this case, four issues are at play: 1) the equitable doctrine of laches (prevents a party from waiting too long to bring a claim); 2) the statute of limitations for collecting a debt (six years); 3) the doctrine of partial payment (restarts the six years after a partial payment); and 4) the separation of powers doctrine (prevents application of equitable doctrines to expressly conflicting statutes). The court of appeals held that laches cannot shorten a limitations period because the separation of powers doctrine prevented it. The Court reversed because laches does not conflict with the statute of limitations, and the partial payment doctrine does not preclude laches, even though it effectively lengthens the time within which a claim can be brought. The Court remanded for review of the laches claim.
Tag Archives: CRS 13-80-103.5
Two months into a three-month hospital stay, a health insurance company stopped paying the bills of the wife of the Respondent. Four years later the hospital sought to collect the amount owed. The Defendant/Respondent claimed that the 3 year statute of limitations should apply and bar the claim. The hospital argued the bill was a “liquidated debt” and therefore subject to the 6 year statute of limitations. The Court reversed the court of appeals citing Rotenberg v. Richards, 899 P.2d 365 (Colo. App. 1995) nine times in a 23 paragraph opinion. It held that in the context of hospital bills, a “liquidated debt” is one ascertainable from the contract itself, or by simple calculation using extrinsic evidence if necessary. Here, because the hospital used a pre-determined market standard and uniform rate subject to disclosure to all patients, the debt was ascertainable using simple math.