Never date a client. Plaintiff was fired from her position for dating a client. She worked for a small nonprofit that provided clients with education, counseling, and other social services. She sued for wrongful termination, claiming that the Lawful Activities statutory exception to at-will employment protected her actions. That statute creates an exception from at-will termination for lawful off-the-job activities. An exception to that exception is that an employer may fire an employee to avoid a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest. The court of appeals held that such conflicts are not limited to financial conflicts or conflicts that actually interfere with work. Finding the evidence sufficient to support termination, the court affirmed dismissal of plaintiff’s suit.
Tag Archives: Sufficiency of the Evidence
You don’t know what you don’t know; that is why an appeals court must have a complete record before it to render a decision. Here, the court of appeals believed it had a sufficient record; the Court disagreed. CAR 10(b) requires the appellant to submit a record with all evidence relevant to the issue on appeal. Relevance is defined by CRE 401 and conversely by CRE 402 — which excludes irrelevant evidence. It follows, therefore, that all evidence admitted at trial on a claim was relevant; otherwise it would have been excluded. Thus, the record on appeal must include everything in the record related to the issue on appeal. Because CAR 10(b) puts the burden on the appellant, the consequences for failing to designate a complete record fall on the appellant. Here, the appellant won in the court of appeals. But for violating CAR 10(b), the Court dismissed the appeal entirely, with prejudice.
The Sudden Emergency Doctrine is now abolished in Colorado. So held the Supreme Court in this case. This decades-old doctrine instructed that people confronted with a sudden unexpected circumstance are not required to use the same judgment as under normal circumstances. In 2011, the Court seemed to re-affirm the doctrine. But, as pointed out in one dissent, nothing has changed since 2011. The doctrine of stare decisis would normally maintain the established rule; but not here. The facts were this: car slid on a patch of ice and hit another car. The jury was given the sudden emergency instruction and found for Defendant; the court of appeals affirmed. After finding it was an error to give the instruction, the Court abolished the rule. Noting that juries already assess the reasonableness of actions under the circumstances, the Court held it is no longer useful and may be misleading.