May 29, 2018
2018 CO 42. No. 15SC934. American Family Mutual Insurance Co. v. Barriga.
Unreasonable Delay and Denial of Insurance Benefits—Damages.
The Supreme Court considered the operation of a statutory scheme that prohibits the unreasonable delay or denial of insurance benefits. Specifically, the Court considered whether an award of damages under CRS § 10-3-1116(1) must be reduced by an insurance benefit unreasonably delayed but ultimately recovered by an insured outside of a lawsuit. The Court held that an award under CRS § 10-3-1116(1) must not be reduced by an amount unreasonably delayed but eventually paid by an insurer because the plain text of the statute provides no basis for such a reduction. The Court further concluded that the general rule against double recovery for a single harm does not prohibit a litigant from recovering under claims for both a violation of CRS § 10-3-1116(1) and breach of contract.
The Court of Appeals’ decision was affirmed.
2018 CO 43. No. 17SC2. Guarantee Trust Life Insurance Co. v. Estate of Casper.
The Supreme Court considered the operation of CRS § 13-20-101, Colorado’s survival statute, and CRS § 10-3-1116(1), a statutory cause of action for the unreasonable delay or denial of insurance benefits. The Court also considered the scope of the trial court’s authority to enter a final judgment nunc pro tunc.
The original plaintiff in this case died after receiving a favorable jury verdict but before that verdict had been reduced to a written and signed entry of final judgment. Defendant then moved to substantially reduce the jury award, arguing that the survival statute barred certain damages. The Court concluded that the survival statute does not limit the jury’s verdict in favor of the original plaintiff. The Court further concluded that an award of attorney fees under CRS § 10-3-1116(1) is a component of the “actual damages” of a successful claim under that section and that, although the survival statute did not limit the damages awarded by the jury, the trial court abused its discretion by entering a final judgment nunc pro tunc.
The Court of Appeals’ judgment was affirmed in part and reversed in part.
2018 CO 44. No. 17SA31. Rooftop Restoration, Inc. v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co.
Unreasonable Delay and Denial of Insurance Benefits—Statute of Limitations—Statutory Interpretation.
The Supreme Court considered a certified question from the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. Specifically, the Court determined whether the one-year statute of limitations in CRS § 13-80-103(1)(d) governs actions under CRS § 10-3-1116(1), which creates a cause of action to address the unreasonable delay or denial of insurance benefits. The Court concluded that the one-year statute of limitations does not apply to actions brought under CRS § 10-3-1116(1) because the legislature did not intend CRS § 10-3-1116(1) to operate as a penalty within the context of the statutory scheme.
The certified question was answered in the negative and the case was returned to the district court for further proceedings.
2018 CO 45. No. 15SC630. People v. Delage.
Searches and Seizures—Consent—Voluntariness.
The Supreme Court considered whether the voluntariness of consent to a search in Colorado must be proven by “clear and convincing evidence” or by “a preponderance of the evidence.” The Court held that, to overcome a motion to suppress evidence obtained in a search, the People must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a search was consented to voluntarily.
The case was remanded to the trial court to re-evaluate the voluntariness of Delage’s consent to search.