Colorado Department of Law — Annual Report 2009
Civil Litigation and Employment Law Section
The Colorado Attorney General’s Office, through the Civil Litigation and Employment Law Section, defends state agencies and employees sued in state and federal court for personal injuries, property damage, employment discrimination and constitutional violations. The section also represents state agencies in personnel matters in front of the State Personnel Board and brings administrative cases against private parties on behalf of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
Additionally, Section attorneys provide general legal advice and representation to the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado Transportation Commission, the Colorado Department of Corrections, the Colorado State Board of Parole, the Division of Risk Management and the employees of those agencies. The section provides advice and training to all State agencies on a myriad of employment and general liability issues.
The Section handled a total of 705 new cases in 2009.
The Tort Litigation Unit defends the state of Colorado, its agencies, employees, entities and officials in lawsuits seeking damages for personal injury and property damage, as well as those brought pursuant to federal law, often claiming civil rights violations. The unit also provides day-to-day advice to agencies, including Risk Management, on questions of liability, coverage, indemnity, settlements and applicability of the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act.
In 2009, the Unit:
Opened 83 new cases, including 13 overflow cases from the Corrections Unit and six attorneys fees claims associated with 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 cases seeking injunctive relief.
Won 35 cases on motions to dismiss.
Won two cases on motions for summary judgment.
Settled 18 damages cases for a total of $1,070,281. Two of these were large settlements ($400,000 and $250,000); the average settlement of the remainder was $26,268.
Settled one claim for attorneys fees for $450,000 even though the fee application had sought $767,000.
Prevailed in five appeals.
The Corrections Unit defends inmate lawsuits involving various issues, including constitutional rights, time computation, prison discipline proceedings, habeas corpus petitions, parole and contract-related matters. Unit lawyers also handle compliance issues and claims filed by inmates in the class action ADA lawsuit, Montez v. Ritter, et. al. The lawyers also provide general legal advice to the Department of Corrections and the Parole Board on a daily basis on matters such as open records requests, environmental issues, sentencing issues, internal discipline and procedural matters, and administrative regulations.
In 2009, the Unit:
Opened 405 new cases.
Obtained favorable rulings in 299 matters and unfavorable rulings in 12 matters — a success rate of 96.1 percent.