Boulder County District Court No. 15CV31239 Honorable Judith
L. Labuda, Judge
Fuicelli & Lee P.C., R. Keith Fuicelli, Amanda C.
Francis, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellant
Patterson & Associates, P.C., Franklin D. Patterson, Karl
A. Chambers, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellee
1 Plaintiff, Bruce Bailey, appeals the trial court's
order granting a motion for entry of judgment in favor of
defendant, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company
2 In this appeal, we are asked to determine whether an
underinsured motorist (UIM) policy is triggered under
Colorado's UIM statute, section 10-4-609, C.R.S. 2017,
the negligent driver's insurance company agrees to pay
the full extent of a jury's verdict. We answer that
question "no" because (1) the legislature did not
intend to allow a plaintiff to recover UIM benefits in excess
of the damages awarded by a jury and (2) the language of the
statute does not prevent an insurer from effectively
increasing a driver's liability coverage by offering to
pay any damages awarded at trial.
3 We therefore affirm the trial court's judgment.
4 This case arises from a car wreck involving the plaintiff
and another driver. Plaintiff sued the other driver for
negligence and State Farm for UIM benefits. The other driver
is not a party to this appeal.
5 At the time of the accident, the other driver's
insurance company covered him for $100, 000 in damages.
Plaintiff's policy covered him up to $100, 000 for
damages caused by underinsured motorists. Coincidentally,
State Farm issued both policies involved in this
6 Six days before trial was to commence, the other driver
disclosed a letter from his insurance company. The letter
stated that "[s]hould the case actually be tried,
provided you comply with the conditions indicated above, you
are fully protected from any compensatory damage award which
may be awarded at trial, regardless of amount." None of
the parties requested leave to amend or supplement their
pleadings based on the new disclosure.
7 At trial, State Farm presented evidence that plaintiff had
not cooperated with claims adjusters and had committed fraud
by presenting false information to them concerning his
income. Therefore, State Farm asserted plaintiff's
actions had voided the insurance contract, and plaintiff was
not entitled to UIM benefits.
8 The jury found in favor of plaintiff and awarded him
damages in the amount of $300, 000. The jury also rejected
State Farm's affirmative defenses of fraud and failure to
9 Following trial, State Farm moved for entry of judgment,
asserting that the insurance company's letter effectively
provided unlimited liability insurance coverage for the other
driver. Therefore, the other driver's insurance would
cover the total amount of damages, and according to State
Farm, because there was no difference between the coverage
limit and the amount of damages, plaintiff was not entitled
to UIM benefits. The other driver did not object to State
10 The trial court granted the motion in a thorough,
well-reasoned opinion. The other driver's insurance
company paid the entire judgment.
State Farm's Motion for Entry of Judgment
11 Plaintiff contends that the trial court erred in granting
State Farm's motion for entry of judgment. We disagree.
Standard of Review and General Legal Principles
12 This case requires us to interpret the UIM statute,
section 10-4-609. Our review of a statute is de novo.
Goodman v. ...