Garfield & Hecht, P.C
Colorado Increases Jurisdictional Limits of County Courts
Colorado county courts currently have limited jurisdiction over civil cases where the alleged damages do not exceed $15,000. However, on January 1, 2019, the jurisdictional limit for county courts will increase to $25,000 due to the passage of Senate Bill 18-056, which was signed into law in May 2018.
This amendment will allow parties to seek up to $25,000 in damages in county courts. This amount includes any accrued interest but does not include costs, such as court filing fees, that accrue throughout the litigation. Whether or not attorneys’ fees are included in the jurisdiction calculation depends, in part, on whether the attorneys’ fees are classified as costs or damages by the court. A litigant could also file a lawsuit in county court where the alleged damages exceed $15,000 (soon to be $25,000), as long as the litigant is willing to restrict the amount of damages to the jurisdictional limit. Because county courts only allow limited or streamlined discovery, litigating in county court generally results in more speedy trials and lower expenses than litigation in a Colorado district court.
In addition to the amount in controversy, a county court’s jurisdiction is limited to certain types of legal disputes. For example, a county court can generally determine tort claims, contract disputes, and civil restraining orders. On the other hand, county courts cannot exercise jurisdiction in divorce cases, probate matters, lawsuits that affect title to real property, or lawsuits that affect children.
County court also provides limits on who can litigate without participation of an attorney. Individuals are free to prosecute and defend against claims brought in county court without an attorney. However, a business entity must be represented by an attorney in county court.
Determining in which court to litigate a dispute includes multiple considerations. Garfield & Hecht, P.C., attorneys have extensive experience in litigating in forums throughout Colorado, including county court, Colorado district court, and federal district court. Our attorneys also handle appeals to the Colorado Court of Appeals, Colorado Supreme Court, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. For more information regarding our litigation practice, please contact David L. Lenyo (970-925-1936; moc.t1553182308hcehd1553182308leifr1553182308ag@oy1553182308neld1553182308), Christopher D. Bryan (970-925-1936; moc.t1553182308hcehd1553182308leifr1553182308ag@na1553182308yrbc1553182308), or David H. McConaughy (970-947-1936; moc.t1553182308hcehd1553182308leifr1553182308ag@yh1553182308guano1553182308ccmd1553182308).