and County of Denver District Court No. 16CV30746 Honorable
A. Bruce Jones, Judge
Graham Milstein & Calisher, LLP, Daniel S. Foster, Laura
M. Martinez, Chip G. Schoneberger, Denver, Colorado, for
and Steele, PC, John M. Lebsack, Keith R. Olivera, Dmitry B.
Vilner, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant
1 Jose Garcia sued Colorado Cab Company for negligence after
a person who had been a passenger in one of Colorado
Cab's taxis assaulted him on the street. The district
court ruled that Colorado Cab owed a duty of care to Garcia.
A jury determined that Colorado Cab had breached that duty of
care and awarded damages. We conclude that, as a matter of
law, Colorado Cab didn't owe a duty of care to Garcia. So
we reverse the judgment and remand the case for entry of
judgment for Colorado Cab.
2 Late one night, cab driver Ali Yusuf picked up Curt Glinton
and Glinton's friend in Denver. The passengers, both of
whom were apparently intoxicated, didn't (and perhaps
couldn't) give Yusuf an address to which to drive, but
instead told him where and when to turn. When they got to
44th Avenue and Tejon Street, Glinton told Yusuf to stop.
Yusuf did so, but when he told the passengers the fare was
$6.50, Glinton yelled and cursed at Yusuf, who explained the
fare and told Glinton to pay. Glinton then grabbed and
punched Yusuf from behind. (There wasn't a partition
between the front and back seats. There was a panic button,
but Yusuf wasn't able to press it.)
3 Before all this unfolded, Garcia, sitting in his
brother's house near the intersection of 39th Avenue and
Tejon Street, had called for a cab. Some time later, sitting
inside the home, looking out the window, he thought he saw a
taxi drive by. (It was dark, so he wasn't sure what
company the taxi was from.) Thinking it might be the taxi for
which he had called, he followed it for about "two,
three blocks." As it turned out, this was Yusuf's
cab. When Garcia got closer, he saw the stopped taxi and
could hear Glinton and Yusuf arguing. He approached the taxi,
asked what was going on, told Glinton to leave Yusuf alone,
and told Glinton and Yusuf to stop fighting. Glinton told
Garcia to "mind [his] own fucking business."
Glinton and Yusuf got out of the cab. Garcia again told
Glinton and Yusuf to stop fighting. Glinton then apparently
attacked Garcia, who testified that he didn't remember
4 Garcia was hit from behind on the head. (He wasn't sure
who hit him.) Glinton got in the driver's seat of the
taxi and sped off. But before going too far, he abruptly
turned around and drove toward Garcia and Yusuf, who were
standing in a parking lot entry lane. Glinton swerved toward
Garcia and Yusuf. Yusuf jumped out of the way, but Glinton
hit Garcia with the taxi, ran him over, and dragged him down
5 Garcia's injuries were extensive - they included
shattered ear drums, a traumatic brain injury, a fractured
eye socket, three broken ribs, a torn anterior cruciate
ligament, other torn ligaments, and more injuries causing hip
and back pain. To recover for these injuries, Garcia sued
Colorado Cab and Yusuf. As to Colorado Cab, he alleged that the
company's negligent failure to take safety measures, such
as installing partitions and security cameras in the taxi,
caused his injuries. He also asserted a claim of unjust
enrichment against Colorado Cab.
6 Colorado Cab moved for summary judgment, arguing that it
didn't owe Garcia a duty of care and that any breach of
such a duty hadn't proximately caused Garcia's
injuries as a matter of law. The district court denied the
motion. At trial, Colorado Cab twice moved for a directed
verdict based on the same arguments; the court denied those
motions as well.
7 The jury found in Garcia's favor on the negligence
claim, and the court entered judgment against Colorado Cab.
The district court denied Colorado Cab's subsequent
motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, reasoning
that a common-carrier/passenger relationship between Colorado
Cab and Garcia gave rise to a duty of care; Colorado Cab owed
a duty of care to Yusuf, as an employee; and, because of the
duty of care owed to Yusuf, the "rescue doctrine"
also supported imposing liability on the company.
8 Colorado Cab appeals the district court's determination
that it owed Garcia a duty of care, the decision to submit
the issue of proximate cause to the jury, and the denial of
its motion for post-verdict setoff of Garcia's medical
bills that were covered by Medicaid. Because we conclude that,
under the circumstances of this case, Colorado Cab didn't
owe Garcia a duty of ...