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Paradine v. Goei

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Sixth Division

April 19, 2018

Robert Paradine, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Esmond Goei, Defendant-Appellee.

          Boulder County District Court No. 16CV30186 Honorable Norma A. Sierra, Judge

          Jung & Associates, P.C., Ronald D. Jung, Boulder, Colorado; Weston M. Cole Law Office, LLC, Weston M. Cole, Littleton, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellant

          Jester Gibson & Moore LLP, Marcel Krzystek, Jay S. Jester, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellee

          OPINION

          BERNARD, JUDGE.

         ¶ 1 Does the Colorado Wage Claim Act, sections 8-4-101 to -123, C.R.S. 2017, bar claimants from piercing the corporate veil to hold an individual personally liable for unpaid wages? We answer that question "no."

         ¶ 2 We ask and answer that question in the case of plaintiff, Robert Paradine, who appeals the trial court's order that granted a motion for judgment on the pleadings that defendant, Esmond Goei, had filed. Because of our answer and our resolution of a second issue, we reverse the court's judgment and remand for further proceedings.

         I. Background and Procedural History

         ¶ 3 Plaintiff served as the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Administration for a corporation called Aspect Technologies, Inc. Defendant was the Chief Executive Officer.

         ¶ 4 Plaintiff sued defendant and Aspect, raising three claims: a claim under the Wage Claim Act, fraud, and breach of contract. He alleged that defendant and Aspect owed him about $8100 in unpaid wages.

         ¶ 5 Defendant filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings under C.R.C.P. 12(c). The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the three claims against defendant with prejudice. (The claims against Aspect are still alive.) After denying plaintiff's motion to reconsider, the court certified its order dismissing the claims against defendant as a final judgment under C.R.C.P. 54(b).

         II. Analysis

         A. Standard of Review and C.R.C.P. 12(c)

         ¶ 6 We review C.R.C.P. 12(c) judgments on the pleadings de novo. Fischer v. City of Colorado Springs, 260 P.3d 331, 334 (Colo.App. 2010). Courts generally disapprove of such judgments. Colo. Criminal Justice Reform Coal. v. Ortiz, 121 P.3d 288, 294 (Colo.App. 2005). Historically, this meant that we would affirm a judgment on the pleadings "only if it appear[ed] beyond doubt that the party asserting a claim [could] prove no set of facts in support of the claim that would entitle the party to relief." Id. "This standard [was] essentially consistent with that employed in resolving a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim" under C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5). Id.

         ¶ 7 Our supreme court changed the C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5) standard in 2016. Warne v. Hall, 2016 CO 50. Now, "only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id. at ¶ 9 (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009)). "Under this standard, a party must plead sufficient facts that, if taken as true, suggest plausible grounds to support a claim for relief." Campaign Integrity Watchdog, LLC v. All. for a Safe and Indep. Woodmen Hills, 2017 COA 22, ¶ 28 (cert. granted Oct. 30, 2017). And "the tenet that a court must accept as true ...


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