Colorado: Injured Worker’s Unsuccessful Effort to Pierce Corporate Veil Does Not Justify Award of Attorney Fees in Favor of Corporate Officer

Colorado: Injured Worker’s Unsuccessful Effort to Pierce Corporate Veil Does Not Justify Award of Attorney Fees in Favor of Corporate Officer

A Colorado trial court’s decision to tax an injured worker with attorney fees under Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-17-201 was erroneous, held a state appellate court, where the intent of the injured worker was to recover unpaid workers’ compensation benefits that had been awarded by an administrative law judge and not to recover damages for a separate tort. Noting that the fee-shifting provision in §13-17-201 had been enacted as part of the General Assembly's substantial tort reform efforts of the mid-1980s and that the General Assembly had sought to discourage and deter the institution or maintenance of unnecessary litigation concerning tort claims, the appellate court held that the injured worker’s cause of action against the owner of the business was not essentially grounded in tort, but rather was based upon the worker’s exclusive remedy for employment-related injuries, irrespective of fault. The worker’s claim for piercing the corporate veil was not the kind of tort claim that the General Assembly intended to be encompassed within § 13-17-201.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.

See Castro v. Lintz, 2014 COA 91, 2014 Colo. App. LEXIS 1165 (July 17, 2014) [2014 Colo. App. LEXIS 1165 (July 17, 2014)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 102.02 [102.02]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.

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