Fannie S. White, Plaintiff-Appellee and Cross-Appellant,
Estate of Julian Soto-Lerma, deceased, Defendant-Appellant and Cross-Appellee.
County District Court No. 15CV32971 Honorable Phillip L.
Law, LLC, Stephen A. Justino, Denver, Colorado; Ronald R.
Way, P.C., Ronald R. Way, Englewood, Colorado; Wilcox Law
Firm, LLC, Ronald L. Wilcox, Denver, Colorado, for
Plaintiff-Appellee and Cross-Appellant
Goldfarb & Rice, LLC, Arthur J. Kutzer, Denver, Colorado,
for Defendant-Appellant and Cross-Appellee
Mihm, LLP, Thomas D. Neville, Denver, Colorado; The Gold Law
Firm, LLC, Michael J. Rosenberg, Greenwood Village, Colorado,
for Amicus Curiae Colorado Trial Lawyers Association
1 In a suit against a decedent's estate, does the
nonclaim statute, section 15-12-803(3)(b), C.R.S. 2017, allow
a plaintiff to recover a judgment for prejudgment interest
and costs above the limit of a liability insurance policy,
even though the action was filed after expiration of the
statutory period for presentation of claims? Under the
circumstances of this case, we conclude that the answer to
this question is "no." And under these facts, we
also conclude that the policy limit caps the plaintiff's
recovery even where a jury awards damages in excess of a
statutory offer of settlement.
2 Defendant, the Estate of Julian Soto-Lerma, appeals and
plaintiff, Fannie S. White, cross-appeals the trial
court's judgment awarding plaintiff damages in a
negligence action. We reverse the judgment and remand for the
trial court to reduce the amount of damages awarded to
conform to the applicable policy limits, and to eliminate the
award of costs.
3 Plaintiff's claim arose from a car accident that
occurred about a year before decedent died from unrelated
causes. More than two years after decedent's death,
plaintiff filed suit, asserting that decedent had been
negligent. Decedent's estate consisted solely of his
automobile insurance policy, which had a policy limit of $50,
000 per person injured in an automobile accident.
4 Defendant rejected plaintiff's pretrial statutory offer
of settlement for the insurance policy limit of $50, 000. The
case proceeded to trial, and the jury returned a verdict in
plaintiff's favor, awarding $100, 000 in damages. The
court reduced the jury's award of damages to $50, 000,
consistent with plaintiff's representation at trial that
she was only seeking damages in the amount of the insurance
policy limit. Nevertheless, the court ultimately entered
judgment for $79, 218, which included $50, 000 in damages,
$11, 600 in costs, and $17, 618 in prejudgment interest.
5 Defendant appeals the award of prejudgment interest and
costs under section 15-12-803(3). Plaintiff cross-appeals,
arguing that the trial court should have entered judgment in
the entire amount of the jury's verdict.
Standard of Review
6 We review statutory provisions de novo. Shelby Res.,
LLC v. Wells Fargo Bank, 160 P.3d 387, 389 (Colo.App.
2007). In interpreting a statute, our primary goals are to
discern and give effect to the General Assembly's intent.
Krol v. CF & I Steel, 2013 COA 32, ¶ 15. We
look first to the statutory language, giving the words and
phrases used therein their plain and ordinary meanings.
Id. We read the language in the dual contexts of the
statute as a whole and the comprehensive statutory scheme,
giving consistent, harmonious, and sensible effect to all of
the statute's language. Id. ...