Articles Posted in Colorado Supreme Court

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A non-negligently constructed and maintained piece of playground equipment cannot be a “dangerous condition” under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act’s recreation-area waiver. Nine-year-old Alexa Loveland fell while using her elementary school playground’s zip line apparatus and severely fractured her wrist and forearm. Alexa and her parents filed a tort action against the school district, seeking damages for Alexa’s injuries. Because the Colorado legislature limited when public entities such as the school district may be sued, the issue this case presented for the Colorado Supreme Court’s review was whether the Lovelands’ lawsuit fell within one of the limited exceptions to sovereign immunity under the Act. The Supreme Court concluded the facts as the Lovelands have alleged them, did not satisfy the dangerous-condition requirement, and that the trial court was correct to conclude the recreation-area waiver did not apply. View "St. Vrain Valley Sch. Dist. RE-1J v. Loveland" on Justia Law

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Between 2010 and 2012, the Board of Education of School District No. 1 (“DPS Board”) approved and implemented innovation plans at eleven schools under the Innovation Schools Act of 2008 (“ISA”). Most of these schools were created to replace failing schools within the Denver Public Schools District (“DPS”). All of the schools were “new,” in that they had not previously been opened as non-innovation schools and had new names, new identification numbers, and employed only a principal and, in some cases, one or two other administrative employees, but had no students, teachers, or other employees at the time their innovation plans were approved. This case presented an issue for the Supreme Court’s review of whether the ISA precluded a local school board from approving an innovation plan submitted by a “new” innovation school. The Court held that the ISA did not preclude approval of innovation plans from such “new” innovation schools. Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and remanded for further proceedings. View "Denver School Dist. v. Denver Classroom Teachers Ass'n" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Cathy Ritzert had worked as a teacher for more than twenty years. She worked for the Air Academy High School, part of the Academy School District No. 20. A student's parents complained about Ritzert, and the District placed her on administrative leave, telling her they would recommend dismissal unless she resigned. Ritzert refused. Several months passed without the District making good on its threat to fire her. Ritzert eventually took a new job teaching special needs students in a neighboring district, claiming she did this to mitigate her damages. She still wanted the District to prove it had a legitimate basis for terminating her, so she again refused to quit. The District responded by ordering Ritzert to report to work as a floating substitute. When Ritzert did not comply, the District initiated formal dismissal proceedings, claiming in part that her refusal to return to work constituted insubordination. A hearing officer recommended that Ritzert be retained, finding in part that the District's insubordination allegation was pretextual and unreasonable under the circumstances. The Board dismissed Ritzert for insubordination anyway, making no comment about the complaint that triggered placing her on leave in the first place. Upon review of this matter, the Colorado Supreme Court held that under the Teacher Employment, Compensation and Dismissal Act of 1990 (TECDA), the School Board's order must be fully warranted by the hearing officer's evidentiary findings of fact. Because the Board here "abdicated" that responsibility here, the Court concluded that its decision to dismiss Ritzert for insubordination on the facts of this case was arbitrary and capricious. The Court reversed the court of appeals and remanded this case to the Board to reinstate Ritzert. View "Ritzert v. Board of Education" on Justia Law

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The Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, LLC, with Martha Altman, Eric Mote, and John Davis (collectively, Students), filed a complaint against the University of Colorado's Board of Regents alleging that the Board's Weapons Control Policy 14-I (which prohibits the carrying of handguns on campus by all persons but certified law enforcement personnel) violates the Colorado Concealed Carry Act (CCA) and the Colorado Constitution's right to bear arms. The Board filed a motion to dismiss which the district court granted. The Students appealed, and the court of appeals reversed, holding that the Students stated a claim for relief because the CCA expressly applied to "all areas of the state." The court further concluded that the Students had stated a claim for relief under article II, section 13 of the Colorado Constitution, which affords individuals the right to bear arms in self-defense. The Supreme Court affirmed, finding the CCA's comprehensive statewide purpose, broad language, and narrow exclusions show that the General Assembly intended to divest the Board of Regents of its authority to regulate concealed handgun possession on campus. Accordingly, the Supreme Court agreed with the court of appeals that, by alleging the Policy violated the CCA, the Students stated a claim for relief. View "Regents of the University of Colorado v. Students for Concealed Carry on Campus" on Justia Law