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13-17-101. Legislative declaration.

Statute text

The general assembly recognizes that courts of record of this state have become increasingly burdened with litigation which is straining the judicial system and interfering with the effective administration of civil justice. In response to this problem, the general assembly hereby sets forth provisions for the recovery of attorney fees in courts of record when the bringing or defense of an action, or part thereof (including any claim for exemplary damages), is determined to have been substantially frivolous, substantially groundless, or substantially vexatious. All courts shall liberally construe the provisions of this article to effectuate substantial justice and comply with the intent set forth in this section.


Source: L. 77: Entire article added, p. 796, 2, effective July 1. L. 84: Entire section R&RE, p. 460, 1, effective July 1.





Law reviews. For article, "Recovery of Attorney Fees and Costs in Colorado", see 23 Colo. Law. 2041 (1994). For comment, "Dazed and Confused in Colorado: The Relationship Among Malicious Prosecution, Abuse of Process, and the Noerr-Pennington Doctrine", see 67 U. Colo. L. Rev. 675 (1996).

Suit involving money damages. Although the primary relief sought by the plaintiff was for specific performance of a contract of purchase, the defendant's counterclaim sought damages for breach of contract. Thus, even though the plaintiff's claim alone would not have supported an award for attorney fees, the defendant's counterclaim for damages clearly brought the suit within the ambit of the statute. Ault Aerial Applicators, Inc. v. Irvine, 684 P.2d 949 (Colo. App. 1984).

Post-dissolution decree proceedings were groundless for lack of jurisdiction. It would be inequitable to require divorced husband to pay wife's fees for legal services when such services should not have been performed for lack of jurisdiction over the defendants against whom relief was sought. In re Noon, 735 P.2d 884 (Colo. App. 1986).

A trial court retains jurisdiction over a motion for sanctions, even if jurisdiction has not been reserved in a stipulated motion for dismissal, because such jurisdiction is incorporated by statute in this section. Buckhannon v. U.S. West Commc'ns, 928 P.2d 1331 (Colo. App. 1996).

A good faith presentation of a legal theory which is arguably meritorious is sufficient to avoid an award of attorney fees. SaBell's, Inc. v. City of Golden, 832 P.2d 974 (Colo. App. 1991), cert. denied, 846 P.2d 189 (Colo. 1993).

Applied in Am. Web Press, Inc. v. Harris Corp., 596 F. Supp. 1089 (D. Colo. 1983); Cooper v. Peoples Bank and Trust Co., 725 P.2d 78 (Colo. App. 1986); In re Custody of C.J.S., 37 P.3d 479 (Colo. App. 2001).