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  1. #1

    Default Need to Know Statute of Limitations Law for Filing Small Claims Suit

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: Colorado

    I have been working with a design firm in Denver that I hired to produce some samples for a new product. Long story short, they ran off with several thousand dollars of my money and did not provide the product or services I paid for. It has been just a few days over the 3 years which I understand is the statute of limitations for small claims breach of contract suits. But the actual financial transaction is still within the 3 years. I finally decided to file suit last minute because I feel they should not get away with this, and after Googling recently, I am not the only victim. (Unfortunately, these reviews were not there 3 years ago) I asked at the courthouse about the specifics of this while I was filing, and they basically said that it may go through, it may not. Just try. I understand they cannot give out legal advice, so I am asking here. Am I wasting my time? Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Need to Know Statute of Limitations Law for Filing Small Claims Suit

    It has been just a few days over the 3 years
    From what?

    Colorado revised statutes 13-80-101

    (1) The following civil actions, regardless of the theory upon which suit is brought, or against whom suit is brought, shall be commenced within three years after the cause of action accrues, and not thereafter:

    (a) All contract actions,
    https://law.justia.com/codes/colorad...ion-13-80-101/

    When did your "cause of action accrue"?

    To determine that you are going to have to provide chronological details of the relationship with the design firm from day one through the moment it became apparent that they were in breach of contract.

    But the actual financial transaction is still within the 3 years.
    That doesn't make sense if the breach was more than 3 years ago. Please explain.

    I asked at the courthouse about the specifics of this while I was filing, and they basically said that it may go through, it may not.
    The clerks are no place to get legal advice. They have no choice but to accept your filing and then you get it served on the Defendant.

    Many lawsuits are won that are filed beyond the statute of limitation. Why? Because the statute of limitations has to be raised as an affirmative defense. If a Defendant fails to do that he doesn't get to rely on it. And if there is any dispute as to when the "cause of action accrued" you get to argue that in court.

    Am I wasting my time?
    No. Suing somebody who screwed you is never a waste of time. You might lose. You might win. You might never be able to collect. If you sue, you have a chance. If you don't you just kiss your money goodbye and move on.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Need to Know Statute of Limitations Law for Filing Small Claims Suit

    CRS 13-80-101 General limitation of actions - three years (1) The following civil actions . . . shall be commenced within three years after the cause of action accrues, and not thereafter:

    (a) All contract actions, including personal contracts and actions under the "Uniform Commercial Code", EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED IN SECTION 13-80-103.5

    CRS 13-80-103.5 General limitation of actions - six years

    (1) The following actions shall be commenced within six yearsafter the cause of action accrues and not thereafter:

    (a) All actions to recover a liquidated debt or an unliquidated, determinable amount of money due to the person bringing the action, * * *

    (All emphasis added)

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Need to Know Statute of Limitations Law for Filing Small Claims Suit

    It is my experience in Small Claims cases that the Judge will bring up obvious errors in the filing. He has more latitude in such cases because he is the only trained Officer of the Court in the room.

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    Default Re: Need to Know Statute of Limitations Law for Filing Small Claims Suit

    Quote Quoting latigo
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    CRS 13-80-103.5 General limitation of actions - six years

    (1) The following actions shall be commenced within six yearsafter the cause of action accrues and not thereafter:

    (a) All actions to recover a liquidated debt or an unliquidated, determinable amount of money due to the person bringing the action, * * *

    (All emphasis added)
    I have my doubts. The CO Court of Appeals explained the use of the 6 year SOL in Interbank Inv V Vail Valley Consol Water:

    https://scholar.google.com/scholar_c...=en&as_sdt=4,6

    As far as I can make out, the OP paid for a service and the service was not performed. That's breach of contract. 3 years. If the OP has more information that would lead to a different conclusion I'd like to see it.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Need to Know Statute of Limitations Law for Filing Small Claims Suit

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    I have my doubts.
    Based on the information we have, I agree that it is the 3 year general contract SOL that would apply. There is not an amount or formula stated in the contract that determines what the OP is entitled to get without regard to things extrinsic to the contract and thus what the OP is owed is not a liquidated debt or unliquidated determinable amount of money.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Need to Know Statute of Limitations Law for Filing Small Claims Suit

    Quote Quoting Taxing Matters
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    Based on the information we have, I agree that it is the 3 year general contract SOL that would apply. There is not an amount or formula stated in the contract that determines what the OP is entitled to get without regard to things extrinsic to the contract and thus what the OP is owed is not a liquidated debt or unliquidated determinable amount of money.
    Then what is your response to the Colorado Court of Appeals having resolved that: "the portion of CRS 13-80-103.5(1)(a) referring to liquidated debt and unliquidated, determinable amount pertains to actions for breach of contract" - hence is subject to a six year period of limitations. (See: Curtis v. Counce; 32 P. 3rd 585 (2001)

    Do you dispute that the OP's cause of action is one in assumpsit?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Need to Know Statute of Limitations Law for Filing Small Claims Suit

    Quote Quoting 303Heather303
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    It has been just a few days over the 3 years. . . . But the actual financial transaction is still within the 3 years.
    If the "actual financial transaction" occurred "within the [last] 3 years," what does your statement that "It has been just a few days over the 3 years" mean? Over three years since what?


    Quote Quoting 303Heather303
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    I finally decided to file suit last minute
    So...as of the date of your original post (Sunday, December 15, 2019), it was "a few days over the 3 years," but you've already filed suit, which you couldn't have done any later than Friday, December 13, 2019. When did you actually file suit? Was it "over the 3 years" when you filed your suit?


    Quote Quoting 303Heather303
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    I asked at the courthouse about the specifics of this while I was filing, and they basically said that it may go through, it may not.
    I'm not sure who "they" are, but the expiration of the statute of limitations is an affirmative defense that the defendant must plead and prove.


    Quote Quoting 303Heather303
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    Am I wasting my time?
    You got a response just over two hours after you posted, and that response asked a couple of very important questions. If you answer those questions and those that I asked, we can give you some thoughts about whether or not you're wasting your time.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Need to Know Statute of Limitations Law for Filing Small Claims Suit

    Quote Quoting latigo
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    Then what is your response to the Colorado Court of Appeals having resolved that: "the portion of CRS 13-80-103.5(1)(a) referring to liquidated debt and unliquidated, determinable amount pertains to actions for breach of contract" - hence is subject to a six year period of limitations. (See: Curtis v. Counce; 32 P. 3rd 585 (2001)
    My response to you is that in that case the Court of Appeals only stated that the cases in which the 6 year statute has been applied are contract cases. But it did NOT say that the 6 year statute applies to ALL contract cases. For the purposes of the case it was only necessary to state that it applies to contract cases since case at bar was not a contract case. Thus, the court did not need to get into the details of which contract situations the statute does apply. And the case law in Colorado is quite clear that not all contract cases fall in the limitation provided by CRS 13-80-103.5. Indeed, in a 2012 case the Court of Appeals makes that very point, quoting from 2010 case:

    16 An amount is liquidated or determinable for purposes of section 13–80–103.5(1)(a) if the amount due is ascertainable by reference to an agreement or by simple computation, even if reference must be made to facts external to the agreement. See Rotenberg v. Richards, 899 P.2d 365, 367–68 (Colo.App.1995); see also Interbank Invs., L.L.C. v. Vail Valley Consol. Water Dist., 12 P.3d 1224, 1230 (Colo.App.2000). However,

    [a] sum is not liquidated or determinable merely because a fact finder, armed with information relevant to determining the amount owed, can arrive at a specific amount of damages. After all, such a determination is possible in every contract action in which the amount claimed is not speculative. Rather, a sum is liquidated or determinable within the meaning of section 13–80–103.5(1)(a) only where the agreement sets forth an amount owed or a formula for calculating an amount owed.

    Portercare Adventist Health Sys. v. Lego, 312 P.3d 201 (Colo.App.2010) (cert. granted Mar. 14, 2011).

    3 17 Here, plaintiff is not seeking damages for nonpayment for services it actually provided to defendants. Rather, it seeks to recover damages based on services it never received the opportunity to provide which, according to the complaint, caused plaintiff “loss of business revenue, loss of business, short and long term financial and professional harm” and “future financial injuries, damages and losses.”

    Neuromonitoring Assocs. v. Centura Health Corp., 2012 COA 136, 16-17, 351 P.3d 486, 489–90 (bolding added). That case was a contract case but the Court of Appeals held that the general 3 year statute applied rather than the 6 year statute of CRS 13-80-103.5. The plaintiff was not suing to recover a debt owed to it. It was suing for breach of an exclusivity agreement, and that contract did not state a sum certain owed to him or a formula for calculating a sum certain because the contract was not one in which he was to be paid money.

    Like the plaintiff in Neuromonitoring the OP here is not seeking to recover a debt owed to him. Rather, the OP wishes to sue for breach based on services not provided to him that he paid for. While one potential measure of damages here would be a refund of the amount paid for the services, it is not the only possibility. Expectancy damages are also a possibility, too. In any event, this is not a situation in which the agreement itself "sets forth an amount owed or a formula for calculating an amount owed" to the plaintiff. He wasn't owed money under the deal. He was owed services. Thus, this statute is generally applied, as the court alludes to, in cases where payment is owed on a money debt to the plaintiff. Those are the most common situations in which the amount owed the plaintiff may be calculated by looking at the terms of the contract.

    So while the OP's case is clearly one of breach of contract, the analysis does not stop there. You have to look at the contract itself to determine if it sets forth an amount owed or a formula for calculating an amount owed to the plaintiff. In OP's contract, there was no stated amount owed to him. He was to get services from the deal, not money.

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