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Colorado Supreme Court Opinions
April 23, 2012

2012 CO 28. Nos. 11SA224 & 11SA225. In re Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado v. Colorado Public Utilities Commission.
CRS § 40-6-115(5)—“Commenced and Tried”—Remedy for Improper Venue is Transfer to Proper Venue.

The Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado (AGNC) filed a petition for judicial review in Routt County District Court, seeking judicial review of a decision by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Pursuant to CRS § 40-6-115(5), such petitions must be commenced and tried in district court either in the county where the petitioning corporation has its principal office or place of business, or in Denver District Court. In this case, the Routt County District Court found that AGNC’s principal office or place of business was in Garfield County, not Routt County. The court ordered that AGNC be permitted to transfer the case to Garfield County or Denver District Court. AGNC chose Denver District Court.

PUC petitioned the Supreme Court, under C.A.R. 21, for a rule to show cause why the case should not be dismissed rather than transferred. The Court issued the rule to show cause, and now discharged the rule. The Court held that CRS § 40-6-115(5), which enumerates the counties where a petition for review of PUC actions shall be commenced and tried, sets a venue requirement. The requirement is procedural, not substantive. AGNC’s initial failure to file in a proper venue did not deprive the Routt County District Court of jurisdiction to grant a venue transfer motion. Instead, the statute allows the Routt County District Court to transfer this case to the Denver District Court.

2012 CO 29. No. 11SA250. In re Willhite v. Rodriguez-Cera.
Civil Procedure—Service of Process—Hague Service Convention.

The trial court issued an order quashing substituted service in Colorado on the sister of a defendant residing in Mexico. After previously granting substituted service under C.R.C.P. 4(f), the trial court determined that C.R.C.P. 4(d) requires that service on a defendant located in a foreign country be made according to international agreement. Because Mexico and the United States are parties to the Convention on Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters, the trial court concluded that plaintiff must serve defendant Rodriguez-Cera via the Hague Service Convention.

The Supreme Court held that C.R.C.P. 4(d) does not establish service according to international agreement as the exclusive means of serving a defendant located in a foreign country. The Court further held that C.R.C.P. 4(d) does not require that service on a defendant located in a foreign country actually occur abroad and does not prohibit a plaintiff from serving a defendant within the United States if otherwise authorized. The Court held that substituted service in accordance with C.R.C.P. 4(f) provides a valid alternative to service abroad. Although the Hague Service Convention is implicated whenever state law requires the transmittal of documents abroad to effectuate service, the Court concluded that the transmittal of documents abroad is not necessary to effectuate service under C.R.C.P. 4(f); therefore, the Hague Service Convention was not implicated.

Colorado Supreme Court Opinions

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