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To our clients and colleagues,
 
We hope you and those close to you are healthy and safe during these uncertain times. 
 
To protect the health and safety of our team and their families, and to do our part to “flatten the curve”, we have closed the physical office.  However, Zupkus & Angell is virtually operating and with regular business hours during the pandemic.
 
For many years, we have made technology a priority and created a platform which allows our entire team, including attorneys and staff, to work from anywhere with the full capabilities of being in the physical offices.
 
If you call our main line, you will be directed to your attorney or staff member as normal, if available.  We also have the capacity for video conferencing should you wish to discuss your matter face-to-face. 
 
We cherish our relationships with clients, family, and colleagues.  If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, or if there is anything we can do to help, please call us.
 
Wishing you and yours health and safety in this difficult time.

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Greetings to all of our clients and colleagues:
 
We wanted to reach out in light of the concerns surrounding COVID-19.  Our goal is to keep our employees and everyone with whom we have interacted as safe as possible. 
 
As of now, our physical office remains open.
 
For many years, Zupkus and Angell has made technology a priority and created a platform which allows our entire team, including attorneys and staff, to work from anywhere with the full capabilities of being in the physical offices. Ultimately, it will be business as usual for Zupkus and Angell. 
 
We cherish our relationships with clients, family, and colleagues.  If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, or if there is anything we can do to help, please call us. 
 
Wishing you and yours health and safety in this difficult time.

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Colorado employers beware—significant changes to critical employment regulations have been made and will soon take effect

Tagged in: employment law

In personal injury cases, plaintiffs attempt to recover damages for injuries allegedly caused by another party. In adjudicating such claims, courts necessarily must consider the medical records and information of the plaintiff. Recently, we’ve seen a flurry of requests for protective orders to protect the confidential information of plaintiffs contained within their medical records.  This initially may seem like a perfectly reasonable request — until we delve more deeply into why such protective orders are not only unnecessary but also make it difficult if not impossible for insurance carriers to fulfill their own legal obligations and conduct the ordinary business operations of an indemnity company.

With changes in the federal minimum wage overtime pay threshold on the horizon, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment is also considering whether to update the Colorado Minimum Wage Order. If labor advocates have their way, the state would raise the overtime exemption threshold to 2.5 times the state’s minimum wage, making nearly 400,000 additional full-time employees in Colorado eligible for overtime pay.

Posted by on in General

Zupkus and Angell congratulates Muliha Khan for obtaining a victory for her client in a case that went to trial in Casper, Wyoming. The lawsuit involved services provided in connection with transportation of oil rig equipment. This breach of contract case presented interesting legal issues related to the governing contract, as well as evidentiary issues under 408 (offers to compromise).  Ultimately, however, Z&A’s client prevailed with the jury of twelve coming back with a verdict in its favor. Congratulations Z&A!

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Posted by on in General

Attorney Muliha Khan of Zupkus & Angell, P.C. been included in the 2020 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

Zupkus & Angell attorneys Muliha Khan and Erica Payne secured a defense victory at trial in Adams County on two out of three claims arising out of a UM/UIM claim following a car accident. Although the jury found that a breach of insurance contract had occurred, the jury also found that Plaintiff simply could not prevail on her claims of common-law and statutory bad faith. The jury’s decision prevented Plaintiff from recovering treble damages on her bad faith claim.

Prior to trial, defense counsel filed a C.R.E. 702/Shreck motion to preclude expert testimony of Plaintiff’s economic expert, arguing that the expert’s application of his methodology was flawed. The Court agreed, striking the expert and any mention of his report. The judge’s ruling further bolstered the defense argument that Owners had been reasonable in requesting additional information from Plaintiff (which Plaintiff never provided) as part of its evaluation of Plaintiff’s economic loss claim.

Cases such as this rarely go to trial—particularly in state court—for two primary reasons: (1) the threat of treble damages; and (2) the complexity of the subject matter. Add the notorious unpredictability of a jury trial to the mix, and the risk of the unknown often weighs heavily in favor of pre-trial settlement. 

Another important factor is the subject matter. While the law itself is not generally known as a particularly accessible subject, insurance bad faith occupies an even smaller niche within the legal community. It is a nuanced area of the law that often requires expert assistance, as evidenced by the increasing demand for claims handling expert witnesses. Even then, it is not always easy to explain to a lay person.

Ms. Khan and Ms. Payne took this case to trial because the defense’s pre-trial motions practice (including the winning C.R.E. 702/Shreck motion) had effectively narrowed the issues in the case and because they had developed strong legal and factual arguments that they believed would result in a favorable outcome for the client. Ultimately, because this case went to trial, and because the defense was able to prevail on both bad faith claims, this outcome undoubtedly represents a  victory for insurers defending against bad faith claims in Colorado. 

Tagged in: bad faith Trial
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In September 2018, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection issued an updated version of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act,” one of the forms that employers who conduct background checks on applicants and employees must provide under certain circumstances during the hiring process and employment.

With marijuana use now legal in so many states but still illegal on the federal level, there is bound to be some confusion as to whether employers can still enforce workplace drug policies that prohibit the use of marijuana. A recent federal appellate court decision has provided some clarity by ruling that, so long as the policy adheres to state law, employers may still prohibit marijuana use as a condition of employment.

Tagged in: employment law

Posted by on in General

Attorney Muliha Khan has been included on the list of 2019 Best Lawyers in America in the category of litigation: insurance.

Calling All Landowners, Property managers, and Snow Removal Contractors! Critical Changes in Colorado Indemnity Law for Snow Removal Work

There is a new change afoot in Colorado law directly impacting anyone involved in the property maintenance, commercial real estate management, snow removal, or general liability insurance industries.  More specifically, Senate Bill 62 (the “Snow Removal Service Liability Limitation Act”), passed and signed by Governor Hickenlooper, has now been codified at C.R.S. § 13-21-129. It is important to note that this statute applies to all snow/ice removal contracts entered into on or after August 8, 2018. 

Under Colorado’s collateral source rule (C.R.S. §§ 10-1-135(10)(a) and 13-21-111.6), when an injured plaintiff receives compensation for their loss from a source other than the defendant, the court must reduce the amount of awarded to the plaintiff by the amount received from the collateral source. 
 
For example, if the plaintiff’s wealthy aunt or uncle paid the medical bills incurred by the plaintiff after an accident, the court will reduce the verdict against the defendant by the amount paid by the aunt or uncle.  This prevents a windfall to the plaintiff. 
 
However, this rule does not apply if the money comes to the plaintiff as a result of a contract he/she entered into – such as an insurance policy. 
 
The Court of Appeals has now officially expanded this “contract exception” to the collateral source rule to include payments made by Medicare.  The Court also affirmed prior case law placing similar payments from Medicaid and Social Security under this exception.  The case, Forfar v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 2018 COA 125, will be considered for certiorari by the Colorado Supreme Court, but as of today, payments from Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security cannot be used to reduce the verdict amount payable to a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit. 
 
For more information, please contact Steve Phillips at (303) 894-8948.

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Choosing a structure for your business is a highly personal decision, specific to each enterprise. In general, any type of business needs to have two considerations at the top of its list when determining what structure is best: tax implications and liability.

The landmark decision of Fisher v. State Farm, decided by the Colorado Court of Appeals in May 2015, had a significant impact on bad faith litigation in our state. Now three years later, the Colorado Supreme Court has finally weighed in, ultimately ruling that if a portion of an insured's claim is not in dispute, the undisputed portion must be paid even if other portions of the claim are in dispute. This decision has widespread impact for the insurance industry from the adjusters to the carriers and of course for insureds.

Documenting all of your employment practices—including hiring, promotion, and firing processes—is a good idea for many reasons, starting with providing your business a firm grasp of your objectives and your employees a clear roadmap to follow.

Employment discrimination laws prohibit certain employers from engaging in discriminatory practices on the basis of characteristics such as race, religion, age, disability, and gender. This area of law can be complex since federal and state statutes, regulations, and guidelines apply.

16-cv-02356-RBJ (D. Colo. Nov. 14, 2017)

Dog Owners Prevail in Supreme Court, Thanks to ZALaw!

Call it a win for dog owners everywhere. Zupkus & Angell attorneys Kristi Lush and Erica Payne secured a victory for their client, a dog owner, in a landmark case of first impression in Colorado. A three-year legal battle culminated today with the Colorado Supreme Court’s unanimous verdict that, in the absence of a special relationship, a landowner whose dogs ran at his fence and barked at a pedestrian, who then ran into the street and was struck by a vehicle, owed no duty to the pedestrian. Oral argument was held on May 4, 2017 at South High School in Pueblo, Colorado as part of the Colorado Supreme Court’s Community Outreach Program.

Posted by on in Trial

Haunted MotelA WIN FOR ZUPKUS & ANGELL!

On October 7, 2016, ZALaw secured a jury verdict in favor of its client in a bad faith breach of insurance contract matter filed in the U.S. District Court for the State of Colorado.

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