Preferential Trial Dates for Colorado Lawsuits

Dec 02, 2013

By Reed Morris

Anyone familiar with the civil justice system knows that commercial disputes take their time to wind through the courts.  From filing through trial, statistics from the federal district court in Denver indicate that the average lifespan of a typical civil case involving at least one discovery dispute is over two years, with court-ordered mediation not occurring until approximately one year into a case. While the lifespan of commercial disputes filed in Colorado state courts tends to be shorter, business can still expect at least 10 months before a case is final, and four to six months before the parties participate in mediation. 

Where situations arise where a party is ill or infirm such that they may not survive the duration of the court case, Colorado law provides that these parties are entitled to a “preferential trial date.”  Under Colo. Rev. State 13-1-129(1) where a party can show that they “suffer from an illness or condition raising substantial medical doubt of survival….beyond one year..” the court "shall" grant a preferential date where the “interests of justice will be served.”  Even in good health, a party that is at least seventy years old may also request a preferential trial date if the court finds their claim “meritorious.”  C.R.S. §13-1-129(2).  Under either scenario, the court must grant a trial date 119 days from the date the motion was filed and also provide an accelerated discovery schedule to get the case to trial quickly. 

While these scenarios might not apply to busses entities, if the business is merely a “dba” (doing business as) of the individual or the individual party (70 years or older) can show they have a “substantial interest in the case as a whole,” these procedures allowing for a preferential trial date will apply. 

Mallon & Lonnquist, LLC, is a business and real estate law firm. Reed F. Morris is a Colorado business and real estate litigation attorney with Mallon & Lonnquist, based in Denver, Colorado. Reed regularly represents businesses and individuals in business transactions and disputes, from pre-filing through trial.  He can be reached at rmorris@mallon-lonnquist.com.  

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