Gleason v. Guzman

623 P.2d 378 (Colo. 1981)

 

RULE:

Where arguments are presented in the context of a summary judgment review, the determinative considerations are whether the record shows a genuine issue as to any material fact and whether the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Colo. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Summary judgment is a drastic remedy and should be granted only where the evidential and legal prerequisites are clearly established.

FACTS:

Plaintiff, who was struck on the head by a vending machine that fell from a truck when she was a minor, brought a personal injuries action against defendants, truck driver and his employer. Defendants raised as an affirmative defense that the release executed by her guardian, and brought a motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff sought to set aside the release. The trial court entered judgment for defendants, and plaintiff appealed. The appellate court reversed and remanded. On grant of certiorari, the court held that summary judgment was inappropriate because there was a genuine factual issue as to whether the guardian was mistaken about the nature of plaintiff's injury when he executed the release.

ISSUE:

Whether, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and drawing all reasonable inferences therefrom in her favor, there is a genuine factual issue that the guardian was mistaken about the nature of his daughter's injury when he executed the release?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The record before us provides an adequate basis from which one may reasonably infer the existence of mistake in the execution of the release by the guardian. He had little formal education and was not adept or articulate in the English language. According to the deposition testimony of the attorney who originally represented the plaintiff, the most sophisticated concept used by the guardian in connection with the injury was "concussion".

When the record is examined in its entirety, it is apparent that there exists a genuine factual issue on whether the guardian was mistaken about the nature of his daughter's injury when he executed the release. Under these circumstances, summary judgment was inappropriate. Similarly, the record fails to demonstrate that the defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The district court could not properly have concluded that, as a matter of law, the mistake was solely "a unilateral mistake of prognosis" rather than a mistake as to the nature of the underlying injury.

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