Digest of Bills - 2003

COURTS

S.B. 03-86 Limit contingent fee contracts between state governmental entities and attorneys. Requires a contingent fee contract for legal services between a private attorney and the state, any department or agency of the state, or any state-sponsored institution of higher education to:

                    Require the private attorney to maintain and provide to the state governmental entity on a monthly basis a contemporaneous record of the hours of legal services provided by individual attorneys, the nature of the services, and any court costs incurred during each month and in the aggregate from the effective date of the contingent fee contract;

                    Require the private attorney, upon the successful resolution of the matter for which the private attorney was retained, to provide to the governmental entity a statement of the hours of legal services provided by attorneys, the nature of the services, the amount of court costs incurred, the total amount of the contingent fee, and the average hourly rate for legal services provided by attorneys; and

                    Specify an alternative hourly rate, not to exceed $1,000 per hour, at which the attorney shall be compensated in the event that the statement provided by the attorney indicates an average hourly rate for legal services provided by attorneys of more than $1,000 per hour.

           Specifies a formula for calculating the average hourly rate for legal services provided by attorneys working under a contingent fee contract.

           Specifies that the new limitations and requirements imposed with respect to contingent fee contracts do not apply:

                    Retrospectively to any existing contingent fee contract; or

                    To any contingent fee contract for legal services performed by an attorney in connection with the collection of debts or taxes owed to a governmental entity that was entered into pursuant to a statutory provision that expressly authorizes or requires the payment of a portion of the moneys collected to an attorney retained to collect the debts or taxes.

           Specifies that compliance with the provisions of the bill does not relieve a contracting attorney of any obligation or legal responsibility imposed by the Colorado rules of professional conduct or any provision of law.

APPROVED by Governor April 9, 2003                             
EFFECTIVE August 6, 2003
NOTE: This act was passed without a safety clause. For further explanation concerning the effective date, see page vi of this digest.

S.B. 03-109 Criminal records - sealing by court - notice of hearing. Requires a court to review a petition to seal arrest and criminal records information and either to deny the petition or set it for hearing. Makes the petitioner responsible for sending notice of the hearing to interested parties.

APPROVED by Governor March 18, 2003                        
EFFECTIVE March 18, 2003

S.B. 03-172 FY 2002-03 budget reduction bill - docket fees - family stabilization services fund - transfer. Delays the transfer of docket fees for specified civil actions to the family stabilization services fund until July 1, 2004. Specifies that, for fiscal years 2002-03 and 2003-04, the portion of the docket fee that is not transferred to the Colorado children's trust fund shall be transferred to the state general fund. Delays for 2 years the availability of moneys in the performance incentive cash fund for appropriation to the state department of human services. Transfers all unexpended and unencumbered moneys in the family stabilization services fund and the performance incentive cash fund to the state general fund.

APPROVED by Governor March 5, 2003                            
EFFECTIVE March 5, 2003

S.B. 03-186 FY 2002-03 budget reduction bill - judicial fees - increase - cash fund. Increases fees collected by the judicial department. Establishes the judicial stabilization cash fund ("cash fund") to be used to pay expenses of trial courts in the judicial department, and directs that the increased fees be deposited in the cash fund. Reduces the general fund appropriation for trial courts operating expenses for fiscal year 2002-03 by $3,179,572 and makes an appropriation from the cash fund in the same amount.

           Increases the probation supervision fee to $50 per month. Reduces the general fund appropriation for probation personal services for the 2002-03 fiscal year by $241,844 and increases the cash fund appropriation for that item by the same amount.

BECAME LAW March 18, 2003                                        
EFFECTIVE March 18, 2003

S.B. 03-231 Product liability actions - innocent seller - product misuse - presumptions. Prohibits a product liability action, not just actions based on the doctrine of strict liability, from being brought against a seller of a product unless the seller is also the manufacturer of the product, or a part thereof, giving rise to the action. Eliminates the requirement that the product in such actions be alleged to contain or possess a defective condition that is unreasonably dangerous. Prohibits a product liability action from being brought if the product was misused and the misuse caused the harm that is the subject of the action. Requires a court in a product liability action to instruct the jury on a presumption if the court finds that the necessary facts giving rise to the presumption have been established by a preponderance of the evidence.

APPROVED by Governor April 22, 2003                      
EFFECTIVE September 1, 2003
NOTE: This act was passed without a safety clause. For further explanation concerning the effective date, see page vi of this digest.

H.B. 03-1003 Agricultural recreation activities - inherent risks - limitation of civil liability - exceptions - duty to exercise reasonable care. Declares that certain agricultural recreation activities involve inherent risks. Limits the civil liability of certain persons and entities for the death of, or injury to, participants in agricultural recreation activities. Specifies exceptions to the liability limitation. Clarifies that the risk of injury from another participant in an agricultural recreation activity shall not be considered an inherent risk in an action brought by an injured participant. Requires an operator of an agricultural recreation activity facility to exercise reasonable care to protect against dangers of which the operator knew or to give warning of any dangers that are ordinarily present on the property.

APPROVED by Governor May 14, 2003                                 
EFFECTIVE July 1, 2003

H.B. 03-1007 Medical malpractice actions - damages for noneconomic loss - physical impairment and disfigurement - limitations. Clarifies that damages awarded for noneconomic loss or injury in a medical malpractice action shall be subject to the $250,000 noneconomic loss cap. Includes physical impairment or disfigurement claims in medical malpractice actions as noneconomic loss or damage claims subject to the noneconomic loss cap. Increases the noneconomic loss cap to $300,000, effective July 1, 2003.

APPROVED by Governor May 20, 2003                                 
EFFECTIVE July 1, 2003

H.B. 03-1027 Class actions - appellate review - interlocutory appeals. Permits appellate courts to allow interlocutory appeals of district court orders granting or denying class action certification under certain circumstances. Specifies that the interlocutory appeal does not stay the district court proceeding unless a stay is ordered by the district court or the court of appeals. Allows specific discovery to continue under certain circumstances in the district court in which a stay has been ordered.

APPROVED by Governor April 7, 2003                                  
EFFECTIVE July 1, 2003

H.B. 03-1117 Protection orders. Changes references to orders entered for the protection of persons from restraining orders to protection orders.

           Adds the prevention of emotional abuse of at-risk adults to the list of reasons why a protection order may be entered.

           Authorizes modifications or dismissals of protection orders after a restrained person is convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor crime involving domestic violence only if the modification or dismissal is sought by the protected person.

           Requires the restrained party to pay for the costs of any criminal history record check if a modification or dismissal of a protection order is sought.

           Clarifies that a filing fee may be charged for a petition for a protection order except when the order is sought by a victim in connection with an allegation of domestic violence, domestic abuse, stalking, or sexual assault. Adds victims of unlawful sexual contact to the list of victims for whom no filing fee or fee for service of process may be charged.

APPROVED by Governor April 17, 2003                             
EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2003

H.B. 03-1121 Civil actions - offers of settlement. For an offer of settlement in a civil action in which costs are awarded commenced on or after July 1, 2003, requires that the offer be in writing and that the offer be made more than 14 days before trial. Requires the acceptance of a settlement offer to be in writing.

           Clarifies how an accepted offer of settlement is enforced and defines "actual costs".

APPROVED by Governor April 25, 2003                                
EFFECTIVE July 1, 2003

H.B. 03-1148 Self-defense - defense of a person - evidence - jury instruction. Allows a defendant not entitled to an affirmative defense self-defense jury instruction to present relevant evidence of self-defense in defense of a person. If a defendant presents relevant evidence of self-defense, requires the court to give the jury a self-defense law instruction. Directs the court to instruct the jury it may consider evidence of self-defense in determining if the defendant acted recklessly, with extreme indifference, or in a criminally negligent manner. Clarifies the self-defense instruction is not an affirmative defense instruction and the prosecuting attorney shall not have the burden of disproving self-defense. States the section does not apply to strict liability crimes.

APPROVED by Governor March 25, 2003                        
EFFECTIVE March 25, 2003

H.B. 03-1161 Construction defect actions - right to remedy process - limitation of damages. Requires a new notice of claim process to be followed in actions filed against construction professionals as follows:

                    No later than 75 days before filing a civil action or arbitration proceeding for damages, indemnity, or contribution against a construction professional to assert a claim for damages or loss to, or the loss of use of, real or personal property or personal injury caused by a defect in the design or construction of an improvement to real property, or no later than 90 days before filing if the claims relates to commercial property, requires a claimant to serve a written notice of claim on the construction professional.

                    At the written request of a construction professional served with a notice of claim, requires the claimant to allow inspection of the property within 30 days of service of the notice of claim.

                    Allows a construction professional to make a written offer to settle a claim by payment of a sum certain or by agreeing to remedy a claimed defect within 30 days following an inspection, or within 45 days following an inspection of commercial property.

                    Requires a written offer to remedy a defect to include a report of the scope and results of the inspection, a description of the work required to repair the defect, and a timetable for the completion of the work.

                    Allows a claimant 15 days to send a construction professional a written acceptance of an offer to settle a claim before the offer is deemed rejected.

                    Requires a construction professional to complete remedial construction work in accordance with the timetable specified in an accepted offer to remedy a defect unless delayed by events beyond the reasonable control of the construction professional.

                    Allows a claimant to file an action if a construction professional does not make an offer to settle a claim or if the claimant rejects such an offer unless the parties have contractually agreed to a mediation procedure.

                    Allows a claimant to file an action if a construction professional fails to comply with an accepted offer to settle a claim.

                    After the sending of a notice of claim, allows a claimant and a construction professional to alter the procedure for the notice of claim process by written mutual agreement.

                    Requires any action commenced by a claimant who fails to comply with the notice of claim process to be stayed until the claimant has complied.

                    Allows a claimant to amend a notice of claim.

           Specifies that compliance with the notice of claim process tolls any applicable statutes of limitation until 60 days after the completion of the notice of claim process.

           Allows a negligence claim seeking damages for a construction defect arising out of a failure to construct an improvement to real property in substantial compliance with an applicable building code or industry standard only if the defect results in actual damage to real or personal property. Specifies that a claimant may only recover damages in excess of actual damages from a construction professional if the claimant proves that the construction professional has engaged in a deceptive trade practice and:

                    Either a monetary offer of settlement made by the construction professional or the reasonable cost, as determined by the trier of fact, of an offer to remedy made by the construction professional is less than 85% of the amount awarded to the claimant as actual damages sustained exclusive of costs, interest, and attorney fees; or

                    The construction professional has failed to substantially comply with the terms of an accepted offer to settle or remedy the claim.

           Caps the maximum aggregate amount of treble damages and attorney fees in an action against a construction professional under statutory provisions that govern deceptive trade practices claims at $250,000. Caps the maximum amount of noneconomic loss or injury or derivative noneconomic loss or injury damages in an action against a construction professional at $250,000, as annually adjusted for inflation through July 1, 2008. Exempts claims for personal injury or bodily injury resulting from construction defects from the "Colorado Consumer Protection Act". Prohibits evidence of a rejected settlement offer from being presented to a jury in any case against a construction professional in which the jury is considering a deceptive trade practices claim.

           Specifies that the express warranties are not affected by the act or existing provisions of the "Construction Defect Action Reform Act". Defines the terms "action", "actual damages", "claimant", "construction professional", and "notice of claim".

           Specifies that the act applies to actions filed on or after April 25, 2003.

APPROVED by Governor April 25, 2003                            
EFFECTIVE April 25, 2003

H.B. 03-1186 Exemplary damages - procedure for asserting. Establishes a procedure governing the assertion of exemplary damages claims in most civil actions.

APPROVED by Governor April 17, 2003                           
EFFECTIVE August 6, 2003
NOTE: This act was passed without a safety clause. For further explanation concerning the effective date, see page vi of this digest.

H.B. 03-1197 State board of accountancy - accountant-client privilege - attest function - exceptions. Creates an exception to the accountant-client privilege for the disciplinary functions of the state board of accountancy related to activities of a licensed accountant. Distinguishes between documents that may be subpoenaed from publically traded corporations versus privately held corporations. Allows for a second certified public accounting firm to review subpoenaed documents of a privately held corporation. Sets forth the parameters of such exception. Requires that a certified public accountant or certified public accounting firm notify his or her client of the subpoena for attest-related functions that concern the client within 3 days after service of the subpoena. Specifies that confidentiality related to subpoenaed documents is not waived nor are due process remedies available under the Administrative Procedures Act. Specifies that subpoenaed documents are not public documents.

APPROVED by Governor April 29, 2003                           
EFFECTIVE August 6, 2003
NOTE: This act was passed without a safety clause. For further explanation concerning the effective date, see page vi of this digest.

H.B. 03-1226 Right to counsel - juveniles - truancy process. Authorizes, rather than requires, the court to appoint legal counsel or a guardian ad litem for a juvenile in a proceeding related to the state school attendance law. Requires the court to make information concerning the truancy process available to the child's parent or guardian ad litem.

APPROVED by Governor April 22, 2003                           
EFFECTIVE August 6, 2003
NOTE: This act was passed without a safety clause. For further explanation concerning the effective date, see page vi of this digest.

H.B. 03-1228 County jails - liability for medical treatment costs. Repeals the prohibition against a county jail to assessing medical treatment costs against a person being held in custody for a medical visit to a physician, dentist, or optometrist, which is the result of a referral by a specified medical professional or is an emergency treatment or follow-up visit initiated by a medical professional. Requires, rather than permits, a court to order a person to pay any medical treatment charge that remains unpaid.

           Specifies that a person being held in custody in a county jail shall be primarily responsible for the payment of the cost of medical care provided to the person for a self-inflicted injury or a condition that was preexisting prior to the person's arrest. Defines "preexisting condition" and specifies when the person being held in custody is not primarily responsible to pay for such medical care.

APPROVED by Governor May 22, 2003                             
EFFECTIVE August 6, 2003
NOTE: This act was passed without a safety clause. For further explanation concerning the effective date, see page vi of this digest.

H.B. 03-1232 Civil proceedings - evidence of admissions - medical care - unanticipated outcomes. Makes inadmissible as evidence of an admission of liability or as an admission against interest in any civil action brought by an alleged victim of an unanticipated outcome of a medical procedure, or any arbitration proceeding related to such civil action, any and all statements, affirmations, gestures, or conduct expressing apology, fault, sympathy, commiseration, condolence, compassion, or a general sense of benevolence which are made by a health care provider or an employee of a health care provider to the alleged victim, a relative of the alleged victim, or a representative of the alleged victim and which relate to the discomfort, pain, suffering, injury, or death of the alleged victim as the result of an unanticipated outcome.

APPROVED by Governor April 17, 2003                            
EFFECTIVE April 17, 2003

H.B. 03-1326 Limitation on liability - providers - developmentally disabled. Specifies that nothing in the act relieves a service provider for the developmentally disabled ("provider") of a duty of care expressly imposed by federal or state law or department of human services ("department") rule. Specifies that the performance of a service or an act of assistance for the benefit of a developmentally disabled person or the adoption or enforcement of a policy or practice by a provider to protect such person's health or safety shall not create a duty of care with respect to a third person, nor does it require the provider to sustain such a service or to adopt or enforce such a policy.

           Specifies that a person filing a tort action against a provider is required to demonstrate liability by a preponderance of the evidence. Specifies that if a provider raises the issue that a claimant cannot demonstrate liability by a preponderance of the evidence or raises any other limitation on liability prior to or after the beginning of discovery, the court is required to suspend discovery, except any discovery necessary to decide the issue of limitation of liability, and to decide the issue on motion.

           Modifies the current duty of care liability limitations by specifying that a provider, rather than a physician, social worker, nurse, or psychologist, is not liable for damages in any civil action for failure to warn or protect any person against violent, assaultive, disorderly, or harassing behavior of a person with a developmental disability or the failure to predict or prevent such behavior. Clarifies that a provider does have a duty to warn in specified circumstances and outlines the duties of the provider in these situations.

           Places specific requirements and limitations on any action against a provider, including but not limited to:

                    In order to maintain a tort action, requiring the person claiming to have suffered an injury or grievance to exhaust all dispute resolution procedures or other applicable interventions with the department or the community centered board within specified time frames;

                    Specifying that a person with a developmental disability who is served in a residential setting, which is owned or leased by a provider, shall not be considered a tenant of the provider;

                    Specifying that community centered boards and service agencies have the authority to remove a person with a developmental disability from any residential setting in specified situations and that these entities have no civil liability for exercising this authority;

                    Specifying that a provider has limited civil liability for the injurious consequences to a person with a developmental disability if the person or the person's guardian declines or obstructs the administration of prescription medication or other treatment recommended by a licensed physician, psychologist, or therapist;

                    Specifying that claims based on alleged deceptive trade practices do not apply to providers engaged in the provision of services to the developmentally disabled.

APPROVED by Governor May 22, 2003                               
EFFECTIVE May 22, 2003

H.B. 03-1366 Civil actions - appeal - supersedeas bond - limitation - exception. Specifies that the total amount of all supersedeas bonds necessary to stay execution of a judgment during the appeal of a civil action may not exceed $25 million. Permits a court under certain circumstances to set a supersedeas bond in the amount of the judgment being appealed.

APPROVED by Governor May 20, 2003                               
EFFECTIVE May 20, 2003

H.B. 03-1378 Docket fees - criminal and traffic actions - increase - appropriations. Increases the docket fees for criminal actions and actions involving traffic infractions. Directs that the revenues generated by the increases in fees be deposited in the state commission on judicial performance cash fund ("fund"). Exempts the fund from the limitations on uncommitted fund reserves.

           For the 2003-04 fiscal year, appropriates $561,042 from the fund to the judicial department for evaluation of judicial performance.

APPROVED by Governor June 6, 2003                                   
EFFECTIVE June 6, 2003

 

Session Laws of Colorado Digest of Bills General Assembly State of Colorado


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