Gomez v. Walker, 22CA0463
Division III, Opinion by Judge Lum, Judge Bernard and Judge Graham concur
Decision: Affirmed and remanded with instructions
Procedure: On appeal from District Court, Denver County, Judge Stephanie L. Scoville and Judge Michael J. Vallejos
Factual Background and District Court Holding:
The district court dismissed the plaintiff’s negligence claim arising from a car accident against defendant because it was filed beyond the applicable three-year statute of limitations prescribed by section 13-80-101(1)(n)(I), C.R.S. 2023. The limitations deadline fell on a Saturday, and the plaintiff filed her claim the following Monday.
Issue: When a statute of limitations deadline falls on a weekend, should it be extended to the following Monday?
The Court addressed how the words and phrases of sections 2-4-108(2) and 13-80-101 should be construed. The Court interpreted section 2-4-108(2) to provide that “if a period described in years (or any other recurring portion of time) ends on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the period is extended to the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.”
Section 13-80-101(1) provides that certain tort actions, including the actions arising from car accidents, must be brought “within three years after the cause of action accrues, and not thereafter.” Here, the Court interpreted the phrase “and not thereafter” to mean that the action cannot be filed after more than three years to the day of the cause of the action has passed.
Based on that interpretation, the Court held that the statutes are in conflict. “If giving effect to both statutes is not possible, the more specific provision prevails over a more general provision.” Morin v. ISS Facility Services, Inc., 2021 COA 55. Section 2-4-108(2) is a general provision because it applies to all time periods described in the statute. Section 13-8-101 is more specific because it only applies to certain types of actions defined in subsections of the statute. Therefore, “section 13-8-101 acts as an exception to the general rule that statutory time periods are extended when they expire on a weekend or legal holiday.”
Further, section 2-4-206, C.R.S. 2023, provides that “[i]f statutes enacted at the same or different sessions of the general assembly are irreconcilable, the statute prevails which is latest in its effective date.” Not only is section 13-8-101 more specific, it is also more recent. Section 2-4-206 provides that “[i]f statutes enacted at the same or different sessions of the general assembly are irreconcilable, the statute prevails which is latest in its effective date.”
Therefore, the provisions in section 13-8-101 prevail over section 2-4-108, leading the Court to the conclusion that for an action arising from a car accident, the statute of limitations cannot be extended beyond three years.
Colorado Workers for Innovative and New Solutions v. Anthony Gherardini, in his official capacity as State Personnel Director, and Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, Division of Labor Standards and Statistics
Division V, Opinion by Judge Brown, Judge Navarro and Judge Yun concur
Decision: Reversed and remanded with instructions
Procedure: On appeal from District Court, Denver County, Judge A. Bruce Jones
Factual Background and District Court Holding:
Plaintiff appeals the district court’s judgment affirming the decision of a hearing officer for defendant, Director of the Division of Labor Standards and Statistics of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (the Division), which determined that a state employee was not a covered employee under the Colorado Partnership for Quality Jobs and Services Act (the Partnership Act). Plaintiff contends that the district court erred in holding that the hearing officer’s decision was a final agency decision subject to judicial review under section 24-4-106, C.R.S. 2023, of the State Administrative Procedure Act (APA), rather than an initial decision subject to further agency review under section 24-4-105(14)(a)(II) of the APA. The district court reasoned that conflict existed between the appeals procedures set forth in the Partnership Act and a provision of the Division’s statute, section 9-1-118, which provides that the rules set forth in the Division statute trump the application of the APA.
Issue on appeal: Whether the decision was a final agency decision subject to judicial review or an initial decision subject to further agency review.
The Court of Appeals addressed whether the determination by the hearing officer that the state employee was not a covered employee under the Partnership Act was a final agency decision subject to judicial review or an initial decision subject to further agency review. If the appeals procedures under the Partnership Act conflicted with the appeals procedures set forth in the APA, the Partnership Act controls. If they do not, the Division must follow both. The APA provides that “any decision made by a hearing officer or administrative law judge is an initial decision, which becomes final only if no exceptions or agency motions are submitted within the allotted time.” W. Colo. Congress v. Dep’t of Health, 844 P.2d 1264, 1266 (Colo. App. 1992).
Like the APA, the Partnership Act provides that orders on appeal entered by the Division are final and subject to judicial review under section 24-4-106. The Partnership Act is silent on whether such appeals will be resolved by a hearing officer or whether the hearing officer’s decision constitutes a final agency decision. Thus, the court turned to the APA to fill the gaps in the Partnership Act.
After concluding that no conflict exists between the appeal procedures set forth in the APA and the Partnership Act, the court held that the hearing officer’s decision was an initial decision subject to further agency review under the APA. The court also concluded that nothing in the Partnership Act or the Division’s statute authorizes the Division to “promulgate a rule that deprives a party of its right to appeal a hearing officer’s decision via the exceptions procedure provided in section 24-4-105(14)(a)(II).” Following, the court declared void Division Rule 5.7, 7 Code Colo. Regs. 1103-12, which provides that the hearing officer’s decision “constitutes a final agency action” under section 24-4-106, and that a “party may seek judicial review” of such decision under section 24-50-1115(1).