The Colorado Civil Access Pilot Program (“CCAPP”) significantly impacts timelines associated with service, disclosures, pleadings and discovery in District Court litigation. CCAPP also impacts the scope of discovery and limits the use of experts at trial. CCAPP was designed with the goal of streamlining litigation so that costs are kept at a minimum and cases are resolved in a more timely manner.
CCAPP is a pilot program, meaning that it is a short term program that applies to limited cases in limited jurisdictions. Currently CCAPP applies to specific “business” related District Court matters in Jefferson, Denver, Gilpin, Adams and Arapahoe Counties. The pilot program began on January 2012 and concludes on December 31, 2013. Common claims brought by or against associations which will possibly be included in CCAPP include breach of contract (covenant) actions, foreclosure actions, business tort actions (fiduciary duty, fraud misrepresentation), actions involving the association’s internal affairs, and actions involving insurance coverage. Actions which are common within associations but are specifically excluded from CCAPP include employment actions and construction defect claims.
CCAPP has many specific rules which alter the otherwise applicable Colorado Rules of Civil Procedures, the following are the rules which are most likely to have an impact on the way associations manage and respond to lawsuits. First and foremost, continuances of court filing deadlines are strongly disfavored and will be denied by the courts even if there is agreement among the parties. This comes into play when an association is waiting for a scheduled board meeting to make a litigation related decision or is sued and is debating whether to turn a claim into insurance and if submitted to insurance, waiting while coverage is determined. Associations have historically been able to secure continuances for the filing of responsive pleadings and other documents during these periods. This will no longer be the case, associations must be prepared to make quick decisions and general counsel may need to file responsive pleadings if the deadline approaches while an insurance coverage determination is still pending.
Another rule which will impact costs on the front end of the lawsuit is the requirement that all disclosures be filed within 21 days from service of the complaint on the defendant. Previously, disclosures were due about a month after the defendant filed his or her answer to the complaint. This gave managers and associations plenty of time to gather documents and witness information. However, this information must now be compiled and disclosed very quickly and ideally should be assembled before the complaint is ever filed. However, this requirement will assist association’s that are sued by individuals acting without counsel and who frequently present jumbled and improper pleadings and disclosures. These individuals will now be required to get their facts and evidence in order in a timely manner before the association ever has to respond to the complaint.
Another aspect to the CCAPP that should benefit associations is that cases will be assigned to one judge who will stick with the matter through the conclusion of trial. This should assist with prompt rulings on motions as well as a more informed judge come trial.
There are many more details and timelines incorporated into CCAPP. A complete listing and additional information can be found on the Colorado State Judicial Branch website. The main point is, if you find your association involved in a lawsuit governed by CCAPP, working closely with your attorney to provide information and decision in a timely manner is more important than ever.