Counterclaims in Expedited Proceedings
Litigation is a time-consuming process – it can take months or even years before getting to trial. There are a number of different kinds of cases that are expedited in Colorado, including evictions, spurious lien actions, replevins, and probate cases. Defendants are allowed to file counterclaims in these actions, but in expedited proceedings, there is established common law that may lead to various counterclaims being dismissed.
Fiscus v. Liberty Mortg. Corp.
In Fiscus v. Liberty Mortg. Corp., the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that the dismissal of a number of counterclaims in a spurious lien proceeding was a valid action by the court. 373 P.3d 644 (2014). In that case, various lenders filed counterclaims for unjust enrichment, theft and foreclosure. Id. at 647. The trial court dismissed these claims because such claims were governed by the standard Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, and the spurious lien proceeding is governed by simplified and expedited procedural rules. Id. at 650-51. The Court’s logic in upholding the dismissal of these claims was rooted in the expedited nature of the spurious lien proceedings. Id. The rules of civil procedure grant more time to respond to counterclaims then the entire duration of the spurious lien statute permits for the proceeding, and thus the trial court found, and the Court of Appeals agreed, that bringing such counterclaims would render the expedited procedural rules “meaningless.” Id.
Like the spurious lien statute, eviction proceedings are governed by streamlined procedural rules. Eviction cases have an expedited schedule, which requires an initial court date be scheduled no more than fourteen days after filing the complaint. C.R.S. § 13-40-111(1). Courts have found that there is a clear legislative intent to ensure speedy resolutions to these matters. Butler v. Farner, 704 P.2d 853 (Colo. 1985). Given that evictions have a simplified procedure, designed to generate expeditious outcomes, counterclaims that may delay the trial can be dismissed. Such dismissal of the counterclaims will be without prejudice, meaning that the tenant could still bring those claims; however, it forces the tenant to bring those claims in a separate case.
C.R.C.P. 104 governs replevin actions and mandates that once a court has received the complaint and issued an order for a hearing, that hearing must be held within fourteen days. The plaintiff in such an action may request a delay of the hearing, but the defendant does not have the right to delay. C.R.C.P. 104(c). These actions are also given precedence in judicial scheduling to ensure they are heard and resolved expeditiously. C.R.C.P. 104(o).
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If you are involved in an expedited proceeding, and facing counterclaims there may be an opportunity to have such claims dismissed if they will delay the otherwise speedy action. Please contact our firm today to discuss any questions you may have.