Plaintiffs Cases in the Supreme Court

Trial lawyers saw several cases setting precedents in 2017 and 2018

The Colorado Supreme Court issued major opinions for plaintiff’s side attorneys to celebrate this year, and some of them came as a trio of opinions last week. The court resolved civil cases with big implications for insurance disputes, privilege between doctors or attorneys and the people they serve and a handful of other areas that change the status quo.

BAD FAITH INSURANCE OPINIONS
On May 28, the Colorado Supreme Court handed down its rulings in three insurance cases dealing with Colorado’s insurance bad faith statute. The big splash among those cases comes from Guarantee Trust Life v. Estate of Casper which could affect any civil case involving Colorado’s survival statute, not just bad faith insurance disputes.

In Casper, the plaintiff died between the time a jury delivered a verdict in his favor — including punitive damages and attorney’s fees — but before the judgment was entered. Zachary Warzel, an attorney at Keating Wagner Polidori Free who represented the plaintiff, said the case will have implications in any civil litigation where a plaintiff dies or is at risk of dying during the course of litigation. The Supreme Court found that, according to the state’s survival statute, plaintiffs can recover punitive damages even after their death. The court also said that a plaintiff cannot recover punitive damages if a defendant dies.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the June 4, 2018 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.