Revisions made earlier this month to Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 16.1 aim to improve access to courts for civil cases.
The rule lays out “simplified procedures” for civil actions such as contract disputes and small claims. It implements guidelines to expedite proceedings by limiting discovery and speeding up cases. The recent tweaks to the rule aim to take that process one step further.
The rule was implemented in 2004 in an effort to improve access to justice in civil courts. The rule applies to all civil actions other than cases that carry their own separate courts or special nuances, like class actions, domestic relations, juvenile or water law among others.
During a pilot project for the rule — launched in two courts prior to its wider implementation — a committee considering the rule found that more than 50 percent of cases filed were for damages or claims less than $100,000, said Davis Graham & Stubbs senior counsel Richard Holme. The now-simplified procedure provides a different avenue for cases where damages will exceed the limits of small claims court ($7,500) but aren’t likely to exceed $100,000. Previously, Rule 16.1 had a $100,000 cap on damages, and any verdict in excess of that amount would be reduced to $100,000, but the revision removes the cap. Now, one or both parties must show the case is large enough and will likely substantially exceed $100,000 to be exempt from the rule.