In any case arising under section 13-21-202, the persons entitled to sue under the provisions of section 13-21-201 (1) may elect in writing to sue for and recover a solatium in the amount of fifty thousand dollars. Such solatium amount shall be in addition to economic damages and to reasonable funeral, burial, interment, or cremation expenses, which expenses may also be recovered in an action under this section. Such solatium amount shall be in lieu of noneconomic damages recoverable under section 13-21-203 and shall be awarded upon a finding or admission of the defendant's liability for the wrongful death.
Source: L. 89: Entire section added, p. 753, 3, effective July 1.
Procedural due process is not denied by solatium statute since it requires a full civil trial to determine liability thereby providing defendants a substantial opportunity to be heard. Dewey v. Hardy, 917 P.2d 305 (Colo. App. 1995).
Amount of $50,000 set by solatium statute for death of a human being is not so grossly excessive and severe as to be disproportionate to the offense and obviously unreasonable in violation of the due process clause. Dewey v. Hardy, 917 P.2d 305 (Colo. App. 1995).
The solatium award of $50,000 is exempt from reduction by operation of the comparative fault statute. Dewey v. Hardy, 917 P.2d 305 (Colo. App. 1995).
And it is not subject to reduction by operation of the pro-rata liability statute. To the extent that the comparative fault statute and the pro-rata liability statute conflict with this section by compelling a reduction of the solatium amount recoverable by a wrongful death plaintiff, this section prevails. B.G.'s Inc. v. Gross, 23 P.3d 691 (Colo. 2001).
Nor is the $50,000 solatium award subject to reduction by a co-defendant's settlement where the settlement did not designate the nature of the damages for which payment was made. To permit such a settlement to reduce the solatium award would run contrary to the rationale that the solatium award is intended as an ultimate award not subject to further reduction regardless of the fault of other tortfeasors. Smith v. Vincent, 77 P.3d 927 (Colo. App. 2003).
With limited exceptions, this section generally does not require co-defendants to share equitably in the responsibility to pay the solatium award. Smith v. Vincent, 77 P.3d 927 (Colo. App. 2003).
Trial court did not err in awarding costs to plaintiff pursuing a wrongful death action under this section and denying defendant's costs. Dewey v. Hardy, 917 P.2d 305 (Colo. App. 1995).