DENVER, Colo., July 16, 2014—In yet another state case with major implications for small business, the legal arm of the nation’s largest small-business association today asked the Colorado Supreme Court to rule against a plaintiff in a sidewalk slip lawsuit.
In its brief, NFIB Small Business Legal Center (NFIB Legal Center) joined with the Colorado Defense Attorney Association (CDAA) in arguing that the Colorado Premises Liability Act should be construed to protect commercial tenants.
In a friend-of-the-court brief, the NFIB Legal Center and CDAA are asking the state’s highest court to uphold a Court of Appeals ruling in Jordan v. Panorama Orthopedics & Spine Center, PC. Plaintiff Barbara Jordan slipped on a sidewalk outside of the Panorama Orthopedics’ office in Golden, Colorado. The landlord of the sidewalk has already settled, but Jordan has continued her lawsuit against Panorama Orthopedics, a commercial tenant on the premises
“The State Supreme Court has been asked to overrule a lower court’s decision that a commercial tenant is not a landowner for purposes of the Premises Liability Act, but the lower court was right in holding that Panorama could not be held liable here,” said Luke Wake, senior staff attorney for NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center.
“The company neither created the dangerous condition, nor did the company own the sidewalk, or even control the sidewalk on which the plaintiff was injured. Per the terms of the lease agreement, it was the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the sidewalk in a safe condition. But the plaintiff is asking the Court to expand the Act in a manner that will potentially make all commercial tenants liable for accidents occurring in communal areas that they are not even responsible for.”
Tony Gagliardi, NFIB’s Colorado state director, said the state is not doing itself any favors by becoming a place lawyers can run amok in. “Last year, our Legislature and governor made it easier to sue business owners; this year, TABOR is being challenged, workplace drug policies are under assault in another State Supreme Court case (Coats v. Dish Network), and now this case. Maybe we ought to change our state motto to ‘Where the Suing Never Stops.’”
The full friend-of-the-court brief can be read here.
The NFIB Small Business Legal Center is a 501(c)(3) organization created to protect the rights of America’s small business owners by providing advisory material on legal issues and by ensuring that the voice of small business is heard in the nation’s courts. The National Federation of Independent Business is the nation’s leading small business association, with offices in Washington, D.C. and all 50 state capitals. For more than 70 years, the National Federation of Independent Business has been the Voice of Small Business, taking the message from Main Street to the halls of Congress and all 50 state legislatures. NFIB annually surveys its members on state and federal issues vital to their survival as America’s economic engine and biggest creator of jobs. NFIB’s educational mission is to remind policymakers that small businesses are not smaller versions of bigger businesses; they have very different challenges and priorities.
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