Another blown statute of limitations case. The Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court ruling that refused to extend the statute of limitations until Monday when the claim's expiration date landed on a Saturday.
In Morin v. ISS Facilities, Inc., 2021COA55, a division of the court of appeals concluded that the two-year statute of limitations for a negligence claim in Colorado does not extend to the next business day when the limitations date falls on a holiday or a weekend.
In Morin, the plaintiff was injured after slipping on water at Denver International Airport. She attempted to bring suit against the City of Denver and the janitorial company that serviced the airport. The appellate court relied on the definitive language of C.R.S. § 13-80-102(1)(a), which states that a claim for negligence “must be commenced within two years after the cause of action accrues, and not thereafter.”
The plaintiff argued that the statute of limitations could be extended by application of C.R.C.P. 6(a) which states:
[i]n computing any period of time prescribed or allowed by these rules, the day of the act, event, or default from which the designated period of time begins to run shall not be included. . . . [And, t]he last day of the period so computed shall be included, unless it is a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday, in which event the period runs until the end of the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday.
The appellate panel, however, rejected the plaintiff's argument. Instead, the court relied on Williams v. Crop Prod. Servs., Inc., 2015 COA 64, which addressed and rejected a similar argument. In Williams, a division of the Colorado Court of Appeals held that the anniversary date time computation applies in the calculation of the limitations date. That is, an action must be filed no later than the second anniversary of the accrual date of the claim.
The Morin court also rejected an argument by the plaintiff that the statute of limitations could be extended under C.R.S. § 24-11-110 which provides:
[i]f, on any day when the public office concerned is closed, or on a Saturday, any document is required to be filed with any public office of the state of Colorado, its departments, agencies, or institutions, or with any public office of any political subdivision of the state . . . then any such filing . . . so required . . . shall neither be abated nor defaulted, but the same shall stand continued to the next succeeding full business day at such public office.
In response, the appellate panel reasoned that the rules of statutory interpretation require the application of the more specific statute when two statutes conflict. Here, the court concluded, C.R.S. § 13-80-102(1)(a) is more specific than C.R.S. § 24-11-110.
The division also observed that e-filing in Colorado permits court papers to be electronically filed on any day of the week.
The appellate panel awarded attorney fees and costs to the defendants.
Bottom line: filing too close to the statute of limitations date is a dangerous game. Costs, attorney fees, and a malpractice claim are all waiting in ambush for the unwary litigators who fall asleep on the limitations date. Time is not on your side.
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