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Colorado Supreme Court Opinions
September 24, 2012

2012 CO 58. No. 10SC765. Portercare Adventist Health System v. Lego.
Statute of Limitations—Liquidated Debt—Implied in Fact Contract—Hospital Debt.

This case involved respondent’s financial responsibility for hospital care of his wife beyond October 10, 2001. Petitioner sent respondent a bill of $144,044.36 for the cost of wife’s medical expenses from October 11, 2001 (when the insurance company discontinued coverage) until wife’s discharge on November 9, 2001. Respondent refused to pay the bill.

The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and held that an implied-in-fact contract for hospital services contains a liquidated debt for the purposes of the six-year statute of limitations in CRS § 13-80-103.5(1)(a), if the amount owed is ascertainable either by reference to the agreement or by simple computation using extrinsic evidence if necessary. The Court determined that the implied-in-fact contract in this case involved a liquidated debt. The amount owed was ascertained by adding predetermined rates for the medical services provided. Therefore, the six-year statute of limitations in CRS § 13-80-103.5(1)(a) applied to petitioner’s “money owed” action. The Court reversed the ruling of the court of appeals and remanded the case for further proceedings. Because petitioner timely filed its action within the six-year limitations period, the Court did not reach the accrual issue on which it granted certiorari.

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