Colorado recently joined the increasing number of jurisdictions requiring heightened pleading standards as articulated in the well-known cases Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twomblyand Ashcroft v. Iqbal. On June 27, 2016 the Colorado Supreme Court decided Warne v. Hall. Hall had filed a complaint against the town of Gilcrest, Colorado and its mayor, Menda Hall. The district court had dismissed Warne’s complaint and amended complaint based on briefing arguing that the court should apply the “plausible on its face” standard fromTwombly and Iqbal rather than the “no set of facts” standard articulated in earlier U.S. Supreme Court precedent. The Colorado Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the district court erred in not applying the lower “no set of facts” standard. The Colorado Supreme Court ultimately reversed, finding that Twombly and Iqbal represented an appropriate refinement of earlier precedent regarding pleading standards and noting that Colorado’s own pleading standards were closely derived from those set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court.
For corporate counsel practicing in Colorado or facing suit in Colorado, the decision represents a shift that, in theory, will allow district courts to more aggressively weed out complaints that are baseless but that might otherwise have survived under Conley’s “no set of facts” standard. Accordingly, the decision provides corporate practitioners and their local counsel with another means to address suits against the companies they represent.
Greg S. Hearing is an associate with Gordon & Rees LLP in Denver, Colorado.