Colorado Supreme Court Opinions

November 13, 2017

2017 CO 102. No. 15SC899. Walker v. Ford Motor Co.

Torts—Products Liability—Design Defect.


In this case, the Supreme Court considered whether a trial court erred when it gave a jury instruction that allowed the jury to apply either the consumer expectation test or the risk-benefit test to determine whether a driver’s car seat was unreasonably dangerous due to a design defect. The Court concluded that the risk-benefit test is the appropriate test to assess whether a product was unreasonably dangerous due to a design defect when, as here, the dangerousness of the design is “defined primarily by technical, scientific information.” Ortho Pharm. Corp. v. Heath, 722 P.2d 410, 414 (Colo. 1986), overruled on other grounds by Armentrout v. FMC Corp., 842 P.2d 175, 183 (Colo. 1992). The Court further concluded that the jury’s separate finding of negligence did not render the instructional error harmless in this case.


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2017 CO 104. No. 16SC51. OXY USA Inc. v. Mesa County Board of Commissioners.


The Supreme Court held that CRS § 39-10-114(1)(a)(I)(A) allows abatement and refund for illegally or erroneously levied taxes based on overvaluation caused by taxpayer error. This result follows from the statute’s plain text that allows abatement for “overvaluation” without making a distinction between government- and taxpayer-caused overvaluations. The Court rejected the Court of Appeals’ holding that Coquina Oil Corp. v. Larimer County Board of Equalization, 770 P.2d 1196 (Colo. 1989), and Boulder County Board of Commissioners v. HealthSouth Corp., 246 P.3d 948 (Colo. 2011), require a different result. Coquina was superseded by the 1991 legislative amendment that added “overvaluation” as a ground for abatement, and HealthSouth’s holding was limited to intentional taxpayer overvaluations. The Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ judgment and remanded for further proceedings.

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