Erika Galindo, individually and as parent, guardian, and next friend of Ariana Guadalupe Galindo, a minor child; and Jose Galindo, individually and as parent, guardian, and next friend of Ariana Guadalupe Galindo, a minor child, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
Valley View Association, d/b/a/ Valley View Hospital, Defendant-Appellee.
County District Court No. 13CV30316 Honorable John F. Neiley,
Office of Stan Epshtein, Stan Epshtein, John Bellinger,
Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiffs-Appellants
& Avery LLP, David H. Yun, Jared R. Ellis, Denver,
Colorado, for Defendant-Appellee
Law Office of Natalie L. Decker, LLC, Natalie L. Decker,
Littleton, Colorado; Michael J. Norton, Greenwood Village,
Colorado, for Amicus Curiae Colorado Family Action.
1 Plaintiffs, Erika and Jose Galindo, are the parents of
Ariana Guadalupe Galindo, who died in utero. They have
brought claims against Valley View Association, doing
business as Valley View Hospital (the hospital), seeking
damages on behalf of themselves and Ariana's estate. They
allege that medical personnel at the hospital acted
negligently in diagnosing and treating Mrs. Galindo when she
went to the hospital showing signs of a ruptured placenta.
They further assert that as a result of that negligence,
Ariana died and they were injured.
2 The district court dismissed the claims plaintiffs assert
based on Ariana's death and sua sponte certified its
order as final under C.R.C.P. 54(b). Because we conclude that
the district court erred in ruling that there was no just
reason to delay an appeal of its order, we dismiss the
3 Plaintiffs' complaint asserts causes of action against
the hospital for negligence on behalf of Mr. Galindo, Mrs.
Galindo, and Ariana (or her estate); negligent infliction of
emotional distress on behalf of Mrs. Galindo; loss of
consortium on behalf of Mr. Galindo; and wrongful death on
behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Galindo. It also asserts that damages
can be awarded for Ariana's pre-death injuries under the
survival statute, section 13-20-101, C.R.S.
4 Shortly before trial, the district court ordered the
parties to brief the issue whether an unborn fetus (who was
not subsequently born alive) is a "person" within
the meaning of the wrongful death and survival statutes. (The
wrongful death statute, section 13-21-202, C.R.S. 2016, and
the survival statute apply in the event of the "death of
5 The court postponed the trial. After considering the
parties' briefs, the court ruled that Ariana was not a
"person" within the meaning of the statutes, and it
dismissed the wrongful death claim and the negligence claim
brought on behalf of Ariana's estate. At the end of the
order, the court wrote: "There being no just reason for
delay, final judgment is hereby entered in favor of [the
hospital] and against the Plaintiffs on both claims pursuant
to C.R.C.P. 54(b)." The court didn't explain why
there was no just reason for delay.
6 Plaintiffs appealed the order. After the appeal was fully
briefed, the clerk assigned the case to this division. The
division then ordered the parties to brief the issue whether
the district court had properly certified the order as final
under Rule 54(b), directing them specifically to explain why
there was no just reason to delay an appeal until the entire
case has been resolved, and, even more specifically, to
explain what hardship or injustice would result to any party
if the appeal is not allowed to proceed. See Allison v.
Engel, 2017 COA 43, ¶ 1 (to show that there is no
just reason for delay, it must appear that "a party
would experience some hardship or injustice through delay
that could be alleviated only by an immediate appeal").
Having considered the parties' supplemental briefs and
the record, we conclude that the district court's
conclusory ruling that there is no just reason for delay is
unsupported by the record or law.
Requirements of Rule 54(b)
7 Rule 54(b) creates an exception to the rule that an
appellate court has jurisdiction only over appeals from final
judgments. Harding Glass Co. v. Jones, 640 P.2d
1123, 1125, 1126 (Colo. 1982). But that exception is quite
limited, and it must be construed consistently with ...