v. Elder

The summaries of the Colorado Court of Appeals published opinions constitute no part of the opinion of the division but have been prepared by the division for the convenience of the reader. The summaries may not be cited or relied upon as they are not the official language of the division. Any discrepancy between the language in the summary and in the opinion should be resolved in favor of the language in the opinion. SUMMARY November 19, 2020 2020COA163 No. 19CA0546, Cisneros v. Elder — Government — Colorado Governmental Immunity Act — Immunity and Partial Waiver — Jail or Correctional Facility The Colorado Governmental Immunity Act provides a right to sue only for statutorily specified acts of government entities. In this suit, plaintiff Saul Cisneros seeks damages for an intentional act committed by Sheriff Bill Elder, namely, false imprisonment for failure to release Cisneros from the county jail. Because section 24- 10-106(1.5)(b), C.R.S. 2019, of the Act does not provide a right to sue a jailor for intentional acts, a division of the Court of Appeals reverses the district court’s order that declined to dismiss the suit. The special concurrence would reach the same result but would not resort to section 24-10-106(1.5)(b)’s legislative history in doing so. The dissent would find that section 24-10-106(1.5)(b) waives sovereign immunity for injuries resulting from the operation of a jail even if those injuries were caused by intentional conduct. COLORADO COURT OF APPEALS 2020COA163 Court of Appeals No. 19CA0546 El Paso County District Court No. 18CV32870 Honorable Eric Bentley, Judge Saul Cisneros, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Bill Elder, in his official capacity as Sheriff of El Paso County, Colorado, Defendant-Appellant. ORDER REVERSED AND CASE REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS Division IV Opinion by JUDGE TERRY Johnson, J., specially concurs Richman, J., dissents Announced November 19, 2020 Holland & Hart LLP, Stephen G. Masciocchi, Peter A. Kurtz, Denver, Colorado; Mark Silverstein, Arielle Herzberg, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee Diana K. May, County Attorney, Mary Ritchie, Assistant County Attorney, Colorado Springs, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant ¶1 Plaintiff, Saul Cisneros, is no longer being held in jail by defendant, Bill Elder, the Sheriff of El Paso County. In this action, Cisneros seeks money damages for having been wrongfully held there. ¶2 State and local governmental entities in Colorado, including jails and the people who run them, are generally immune from being sued. Cisneros chose to sue under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA), §§ 24-10-101 to -120, C.R.S. 2020, which waives sovereign immunity — in other words, allows suit against governmental entities and public employees — under specified circumstances. If there is not a statute that gives a right to sue a governmental entity or employee, a plaintiff’s suit against the entity or employee must be dismissed. ¶3 In this case, Cisneros argued that a statute that allows suit to be brought against Elder for negligence also allowed Elder to be sued for intentional conduct — specifically, the decision to keep Cisneros imprisoned even though his daughter had posted bond to secure his ...

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