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24-10-102. Declaration of policy.

Statute text

It is recognized by the general assembly that the doctrine of sovereign immunity, whereunder the state and its political subdivisions are often immune from suit for injury suffered by private persons, is, in some instances, an inequitable doctrine. The general assembly also recognizes that the supreme court has abrogated the doctrine of sovereign immunity effective July 1, 1972, and that thereafter the doctrine shall be recognized only to such extent as may be provided by statute. The general assembly also recognizes that the state and its political subdivisions provide essential public services and functions and that unlimited liability could disrupt or make prohibitively expensive the provision of such essential public services and functions. The general assembly further recognizes that the taxpayers would ultimately bear the fiscal burdens of unlimited liability and that limitations on the liability of public entities and public employees are necessary in order to protect the taxpayers against excessive fiscal burdens. It is also recognized that public employees, whether elected or appointed, should be provided with protection from unlimited liability so that such public employees are not discouraged from providing the services or functions required by the citizens or from exercising the powers authorized or required by law. It is further recognized that the state, its political subdivisions, and the public employees of such public entities, by virtue of the services and functions provided, the powers exercised, and the consequences of unlimited liability to the governmental process, should be liable for their actions and those of their agents only to such an extent and subject to such conditions as are provided by this article. The general assembly also recognizes the desirability of including within one article all the circumstances under which the state, any of its political subdivisions, or the public employees of such public entities may be liable in actions which lie in tort or could lie in tort regardless of whether that may be the type of action or the form of relief chosen by a claimant and that the distinction for liability purposes between governmental and proprietary functions should be abolished.


Source: L. 71: p. 1204, 1. C.R.S. 1963: 130-11-2. L. 79: Entire section amended, p. 862, 1, effective July 1. L. 86: Entire section amended, p. 873, 1, effective July 1.





The denial of compensation is the constitutional result of the doctrine of sovereign immunity. In re Air Crash Disaster at Stapleton, 720 F. Supp. 1465 (D. Colo. 1989).

The Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA) is constitutional and classifications restricting recovery by various tort victims bear a rational relationship to the legitimate state interests of fiscal certainty. The fact that the state compensation insurance authority and the state compensation insurance fund were covered by the CGIA while private insurers were not was not a denial of equal protection. Simon v. State Compensation Ins. Auth., 903 P.2d 1139 (Colo. App. 1994), rev'd on other grounds, 946 P.2d 1298 (Colo. 1997).

Just compensation clause of constitution creates exception to doctrine of governmental immunity. Srb v. Bd. of County Comm'rs, 43 Colo. App. 14, 601 P.2d 1082 (1979), cert. dismissed, 199 Colo. 496, 618 P.2d 1105 (1980).

As does making of legislative contract. The making of a contract pursuant to legislative authority is a waiver by the state of its immunity from suit and of any statutory requirement for the filing of claims. Ace Flying Serv., Inc. v. Colo. Dept. of Agric., 136 Colo. 19, 314 P.2d 278 (1957) (decided under former CRS 53, 130-2-1).

The CGIA does not apply to claims based on federal civil rights violations. Martinez v. El Paso County, 673 F. Supp. 1030 (D. Colo. 1987).

The CGIA does not apply to claims for prospective relief to prevent future injury. Open Door Ministries v. Lipschuetz, 2016 CO 37M, 373 P.3d 575.

The act therefore did not bar cross-claims for promissory estoppel and a declaratory judgment that a city-issued rooming and boarding permit allowing use of property for transitional housing would remain valid when the entity that had purchased the property filed the cross-claims during a legal proceeding challenging the validity of the permit. Because the permit was still valid when the entity filed the cross-claims, the entity had not yet suffered an injury to which the act applied. Open Door Ministries v. Lipschuetz, 2016 CO 37M, 373 P.3d 575.

The CGIA operates prospectively. Nothing in the CGIA states that it is intended to operate retroactively. Smokebrush Found. v. City of Colo. Springs, 2015 COA 80, 418 P.3d 530, aff'd, 2018 CO 10, 410 P.3d 1236.

Although the CGIA does not operate retroactively, its waiver provisions can be applied to conduct occurring before its enactment. Smokebrush Found. v. City of Colo. Springs, 2018 CO 10, 410 P.3d 1236.

Applying the CGIA's immunity waivers would not be a retroactive application of those waivers if issues are ongoing and continued after the CGIA's enactment. Smokebrush Found. v. City of Colo. Springs, 2018 CO 10, 410 P.3d 1236.

The CGIA governs the circumstances under which a person may maintain a tort action against the state, its political subdivisions, and its employees. Mesa County Valley Sch. Dist. v. Kelsey, 8 P.3d 1200 (Colo. 2000).

No immunity for sister state's activities in this state. Where an injured party is a citizen of this state, injured in this state, and sues in the courts of this state, there is no immunity, by law or as a matter of comity, covering a sister state's activities in this state. Peterson v. State of Texas, 635 P.2d 241 (Colo. App. 1981).

State statutory provisions control over conflicting city charter. If a city charter establishes a different notice of claim procedure, it conflicts with the state statutory provisions, and when a conflict exists in a matter of both statewide and local concern, the state statute controls. Lipira v. City of Thornton, 41 Colo. App. 401, 585 P.2d 932 (1978).

The CGIA derogates Colorado's common law. Consequently, statute's immunity provisions are to be strictly construed. As a logical corollary, provisions withholding immunity are also to be strictly construed in the interest of compensating victims of governmental negligence. Padilla ex rel. Padilla v. Sch. Dist. No. 1, 25 P.3d 1176 (Colo. 2001); Podboy v. Fraternal Order of Police, 94 P.3d 1226 (Colo. App. 2004).

The protections afforded under the CGIA attach on the date the negligence is alleged to have occurred. Muniz v. Garner, 921 F. Supp. 700 (D. Colo. 1996).

Applied in City of Colo. Springs v. Gladin, 198 Colo. 333, 599 P.2d 907 (1979); South of Second Assocs. v. Georgetown, 199 Colo. 394, 609 P.2d 125 (1980); Forrest v. County Comm'rs, 629 P.2d 1105 (Colo. App. 1981); Young v. State, 642 P.2d 18 (Colo. App. 1981); Mucci v. Falcon Sch. Dist. No. 49, 655 P.2d 422 (Colo. App. 1982).