Colorado Personal Injury Case Wrap-Up for May 2017

Recently, the Colorado courts looked at jurors’ ability to avoid inflammatory media infiltration, the admissibility of text messages, the interpretation of insurance language in two completely disparate cases, and the liability of a company for one bad apple in its employ.

Can the Media Be Avoided? In a case that asked whether a jury really is able to avoid the media in the course of a trial, the Supreme Court of Colorado said yes. In People v. Jacobson (2017 CO 28) the Supreme Court of Colorado had to decide if the lower court had abused its discretion by not polling the jury about a potentially inflammatory news story that had aired during the trial. The Court said polling the jury would do more harm than good.

Should a Text Message Be Considered Useful Evidence? The Colorado Court of Appeals decided a case of first impression examining how to authenticate text messages so they can be admitted as evidence in People vs. Heisler (2017 COA 58). There is a multi-step process to authenticate text messages and their validity. With the ubiquity of electronic messaging and social media, text messages and their candor are being requested and produced in civil and criminal litigation now more than ever.

When Interpreting Language in Insurance Contracts, What Is Covered and What Is Not? In two very different cases, language was the determining factor. The Colorado Court of Appeals interpreted the language of a policy in American Family Mutual Insurance Co., v. Omar Ashour (2017 COA 67). In this case, it was the term “legally entitled to recover” and whether it precluded Ashour from recovering. The lower court erred, and Ashour was granted summary judgment. In an odder case, a man accused of an inappropriate relationship with a student tried to use his homeowner’s insurance to cover his liability. The Tenth Circuit decided in State Farm Fire v. Dawson. No. 16-6356 (10th Cir. 2017), that no, State Farm did not have to pay for his bad deeds.

When Is a Securities Company Liable for the Bad Actions of Its Broker? The Colorado Court of Appeals answered this question in a case of first impression in Houston v. Southeast Investments, N.C., Inc. (2017 COA 66). Just because a person is an agent with a brokerage does not make that brokerage liable for his bad actions. As deplorable as it seems that a man took advantage of an elderly woman and essentially stole her money, Colorado state law protects the brokerage firm from this employee’s independent bad acts.

The Metier Law Firm is committed to assisting people with personal injury claims throughout Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska, and we frequently serve as co-counsel to law firms nationwide. Tom Metier recently secured the largest personal injury verdict in Colorado.