Michael D. Brown, Plaintiff-Appellant,
American Standard Insurance Company of Wisconsin, Defendant-Appellee.
and County of Denver District Court No. 17CV30099 Honorable
Michael A. Martinez, Judge.
McDivitt Law Firm, P.C., David E. McDivitt, Edward Lomena,
Colorado Springs, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellant
Campbell, Latiolais & Averbach, LLC, Colin Campbell,
Phillip Khalife, Greenwood Village, Colorado, for
1 This insurance dispute arises from plaintiff Michael D.
Brown's motorcycle accident, and the purported
cancellation of his motorcycle insurance policy by defendant,
American Standard Insurance Company of Wisconsin.
2 After Brown sued for benefits under the policy, the trial
court granted American Standard's summary judgment
motion, concluding that no coverage was in effect on the date
of the accident because American Standard had previously
given written notice of cancellation on the ground that Brown
did not have a valid driver's license. But Brown
contested that fact, and offered admissible evidence that he
had a valid driver's license at the time of the
cancellation and on the date of the accident.
3 We conclude, as a matter of first impression in Colorado,
that when an insurer notifies an insured that it is
cancelling an automobile insurance policy and specifies the
reason for the cancellation, the validity of the cancellation
turns on the accuracy of the information underlying the
cancellation. Under these circumstances, a policy
cancellation based on inaccurate information is no
cancellation at all.
4 Because there is a disputed issue of material fact whether
the stated reason for American Standard's cancellation of
Brown's policy was true, we reverse the trial court's
Relevant Facts and Procedural History
5 In March 2014, Brown purchased a motorcycle insurance
policy from American Standard for his Suzuki
motorcycle. On August 5, 2014, American Standard
mailed a notice to Brown that it was cancelling that policy
effective August 20, 2014. The stated reason for cancellation
was "DOES NOT HAVE A VALID DRIVER'S LICENSE."
Brown does not contest that he received the notice of
cancellation and that, before the lawsuit that underlies this
appeal, he took no action to dispute the cancellation.
6 On September 6, 2014, Brown was involved in an accident
while driving the motorcycle. He allegedly sustained
significant injuries. Apparently because the other driver was
either uninsured or underinsured, Brown made a claim against
the American Standard uninsured/underinsured motorist
7 Approximately a month and a half after the purported policy
cancellation, Brown received a letter dated October 3, 2014,
from American Family Mutual Insurance Company regarding an
automobile insurance policy issued to Brown by that
company.The letter stated: "Please disregard
the termination notice recently sent to you. Information
recently received enables us to continue this policy without
interruption in coverage."
8 When American Standard denied coverage, Brown filed a
complaint against American Standard for, among other things,
breach of contract. American Standard moved for summary
judgment, contending that coverage was not in force on the
date of the accident because it had previously cancelled the
9 Brown filed a written response to American Standard's
summary judgment motion, supported by Brown's affidavit
attesting that he had a valid Colorado driver's license
both at the time of the cancellation and on the date of the
10 The trial court concluded that there were no disputed
issues of material fact and granted American Standard's
summary judgment motion. Brown appeals.
Standard of Review
11 We review a grant of summary judgment de novo. P.W. v.
Children's Hosp. Colo., 2016 CO 6, ¶ 11.
12 "Summary judgment is appropriate only if there is no
genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Id.
The party requesting summary judgment has the initial burden
of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact.
Gibbons v. Ludlow, 2013 CO 49, ¶ 11.
13 If this initial burden is met, the burden shifts to the
nonmoving party to demonstrate the existence of a disputed
issue of material fact. Civil Serv. Comm'n v.
Pinder, 812 P.2d 645, 649 (Colo. 1991). A material fact
is one that impacts the outcome of the case. Mt. Emmons
Mining Co. v. Town of Crested Butte, 690 P.2d 231, 239
There Is a Disputed Issue of Material Fact Regarding the
Effectiveness of American Standard's Cancellation of the
14 In its summary judgment motion, American Standard argued
that there was no disputed issue of material fact because
insurance coverage was not in effect on the date of the
accident. To support this contention, American Standard
submitted the written notice of cancellation.
15 As noted above, Brown did not contest in the trial court,
and concedes on appeal, that American Standard mailed the
notice of cancellation to his last known address and that he
did not challenge the cancellation either before the
effective date of the cancellation or at any time before the
filing of the lawsuit underlying this appeal.
16 Thus, American Standard met its initial summary judgment
burden by establishing that the policy was not in effect on
the date of the accident. To avoid summary judgment, Brown
was required to ...