Colorado Legislature Overturns Ferrer, Permits Direct Negligence Claims Alongside Respondeat Superior Claim

Published date21 September 2021
Subject MatterLitigation, Mediation & Arbitration, Trials & Appeals & Compensation, Professional Negligence
Law FirmLewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP
AuthorMs Katherine Vaughn and Amy Johnson

Denver, Colo. (September 20, 2021) - In May 2021, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed HB21-1188, which explicitly overturned the Colorado Supreme Court's ruling in Ferrer v. Okbamicael, 390 P.3d 836 (Colo. 2017). This law went into effect on September 7, 2021.

Under Ferrer, plaintiffs were prohibited from asserting direct negligence claims - such as negligent hiring, supervision, retention, and training - if the defendant company admitted vicarious liability for its driver at the time of the accident. As such, plaintiffs generally stopped asserting these claims or agreed to dismiss such claims after a defendant company filed an answer to the complaint admitting course and scope of employment. This significantly limited the discovery into companies that did not dispute their driver was acting in the course and scope of his employment.

Following aggressive lobbying by the plaintiffs' bar (Colorado Trial Lawyers Association), the Colorado legislature proposed and passed HB21-1188, which states: "[W]hen an employer...

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