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Young v. Hodges

Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc

January 13, 2014

In re: Michael YOUNG, as father and next friend to Dylan Bucy a minor child, and Amy Larson, as mother and next friend to Daniel Larson a minor child, Plaintiffs
v.
Jefferson County Sheriff and Deputy John E. HODGES, and Cristian A. Robinson, Defendants.

Page 459

Original Proceeding Pursuant to C.A.R. 21, Jefferson County District Court Case No. 11CV2943, Honorable Jane A. Tidball, Judge.

Bachus & Schanker, L.L.C., Maaren L. Johnson, Denver, Colorado, Attorneys for Plaintiffs.

Ellen G. Wakeman, Jefferson County Attorney, Writer Mott, Assistant County Attorney, Rebecca Klymkowsky, Assistant County Attorney, Golden, Colorado, Attorneys for Defendants Jefferson County Sheriff and Deputy John E. Hodges.

No appearance by or on behalf of Cristian A. Robinson.

Rule Made Absolute

RICE, JUSTICE.

¶ 1 In this original C.A.R. 21 proceeding, we review the trial court's Order denying the Jefferson County Sheriff's and Deputy John Hodges's (collectively, " the County" ) Renewed Motion to Dismiss on Grounds of Immunity (" Renewed Motion" ). We issued a Rule to Show Cause why the trial court's Order should not be vacated. We now hold that the trial court erred in finding that allegations of negligence alone are sufficient to overcome the statutory grant of immunity and the presumption of good faith afforded to law enforcement officers pursuant to section 19-2-508(7), C.R.S. (2013). Accordingly, we vacate the trial court's Order, make the rule absolute, and remand to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I. Facts and Procedural History

¶ 2 On July 28, 2010, Deputy Hodges was lawfully transporting Daniel Larson and Dylan Bucy (collectively, " the Juveniles" ) from a court hearing to the Mount View Youth Services Center. The Juveniles were seated in the rear of a van, handcuffed. While the van was en route, Cristian Robinson,[1] another driver, allegedly turned into an intersection without yielding and collided with the van. As a result of the collision, the Juveniles sustained multiple injuries.

¶ 3 The Juveniles filed suit against the County, alleging that Deputy Hodges acted negligently by (1) failing to secure their seatbelts, and (2) driving into the intersection without ensuring that it was clear. Initially, the County filed a Partial Motion to Dismiss (" Motion" ), claiming that it was immune pursuant to the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (" CGIA" ). The trial court denied the Motion, and the County filed an interlocutory appeal pursuant to section 24-10-108, C.R.S. (2013), of the CGIA. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court's denial of the Motion, holding that the County had waived its immunity under the CGIA.

Page 460

¶ 4 Thereafter, the County filed a Renewed Motion pursuant to C.R.C.P. 12(b)(1), this time citing section 19-2-508(7) of the Children's Code as the source of its governmental immunity. Section 19-2-508(7) provides for immunity from civil or criminal liability for law enforcement officers " acting under the direction of the court who in good faith transport [ ] any juvenile." Importantly, the statute explicitly states that the good faith of any person who qualifies for immunity under section 19-2-508(7) " shall be presumed."

¶ 5 After conducting an evidentiary hearing regarding whether Deputy Hodges had secured the Juveniles' seatbelts, the trial court denied the County's Renewed Motion. Specifically, the trial court found that the County was not entitled to immunity under section 19-2-508(7) because the Juveniles had offered sufficient evidence to " infer that [Deputy] Hodges failed to act in faithfulness to his duty or obligation to secure the [Juveniles] and accordingly did not transport the [Juveniles] in good faith."

¶ 6 After the trial court denied the County's Motion for Certification for Interlocutory Appeal pursuant to C.A.R. 4.2, the County petitioned this Court for review of the trial court's Order pursuant to C.A.R. 21. The County argued that the trial court erred as a matter of law in finding that negligence alone is sufficient to overcome the presumption of good faith in ...


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