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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.

Posted by on in General

happy dogA Win for Dog Owners!

On July 24, 2014, Z&A secured a ruling in favor of its client in a Colorado Premises Liability Act (“PLA”) and negligence matter filed in Adams County District Court. Partner Kristi Lush and Associate Erica Payne successfully moved to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims for failure to state a claim for relief pursuant to C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5).

Posted by on in General

Court of Appeals

DEFENSE VERDICT SECURED BY Z&A UPHELD BY COURT OF APPEALS 

In February 2014, G4S secured a verdict in favor of its client in a bodily injury matter filed in Denver District Court.  Partners Muliha Khan and Richard Angell tried the case.

Posted by on in General

superlawyers 1OUR SUPER LAWYERS HAVE DONE IT AGAIN!

Zupkus & Angell Partners Kristi Lush and Muliha Khan have once again been named Rising Stars by Super Lawyers, joining the ranks of seasoned Super Lawyer Bob Zupkus as perennial favorites for this prestigious recognition.

Posted by on in General
Zupkus & Angell, P.C. Has A New Address!

 

Posted by on in Publications
CWBA The Advocate Publication

Congratulations to ZA Law associate Erica Payne for the publication of her article "Life Cycle of a Law Firm Attorney" in the Winter edition of The Advocate, a publication of the Colorado Women's Bar Association.  
Erica's article, co-written with felow CWBA member Jyoti Pandya, is an enlightening look into the key stages of a legal career.

Posted by on in Publications

ZA Law Partner Dina Bernardelli and Associate Drew Gustus recently published an article in A Survey of the Law of Legal Malpractice, a compendium compiled by the International Society of Primerus Law Firms. The survey covers Legal Mapractice Law in most states (with Delaware soon to come, thanks to Drew), and is intended to be a resource for lawyers and their clients in every U.S. jurisdiction.

Posted by on in Events
New Addition to the ZALaw Family!!


On November 1st, 2015, ZALaw Partner Kristi Lush gave birth to beautiful Esther "Etta" Maren Rose Lush.
She weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces and is happy and healthy!

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