Preferential Trial Dates for Colorado Civil Litigation

By | May 4, 2016

The long, slow grind of civil litigation was recognized decades ago by the Colorado General Assembly in enacting Section 13-1-129, C.R.S. (originally enacted in 1990).  Things have only gotten worse.

Recent statistics I’ve reviewed from the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado in Denver reveal that the average civil litigation docket involving at least one discovery dispute is over two years from filing to trial.  I estimate no less than ten months to trial for business litigation in Colorado state courts assuming the case can get underway and months are not consumed on the front end dealing with motions to dismiss.  My experience is that the Colorado judiciary’s goal to get a civil cases to trial in Colorado state court within a year is merely aspirational, particularly in complex civil litigation requiring trial settings of greater than 5 days of trial.  In such cases I expect 12 – 14 months out for a trial date.

The statute referenced above, titled “Prudential trial Dates,” directs the district courts in Colorado to set a civil trial date no more than 119 days out for individuals in the following categories:

  • individuals at least 70 years of age upon a finding of the court that the claim brought in the civil litigation is meritorious (in such cases the court “may” grant the motion);
  • individuals able to demonstrate by “clear and convincing medical evidence” that that raises a “substantial medial doubt of survival of that party beyond one year” and the court is otherwise satisfied that an expatiated trial setting serves “interests of justice” (in such cases the court “shall” grant the motion).

While the above applies only to individuals,  such may be implicated in Colorado commercial litigation where principals, owners, or individuals doing businesses under a “d/b/a” are parties to business lawsuits.  Once the trial date is set, the case is on a pure rocket docket, the Colorado General Assembly specifically directing that all accelerated litigation and procedural deadlines be held firm:

The court shall establish an accelerated discovery schedule in all such cases. No continuance shall be granted beyond the one-hundred-nineteen-day period except for physical or mental disability of a party or a party’s attorney or upon a showing of other good cause. Any such continuance shall be for no more than one hundred nineteen days, and only one such continuance shall be granted to a party.

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