University of Denver

Colorado's Simplified Pretrial Procedure for Civil Actions, C.R.C.P. 16.1

Effective September 1, 2018, the Colorado Supreme Court made several significant changes to its Simplified Procedures Rule 16.1.

These changes are a reflection and culmination of IAALS two studies conducted on the impact and success of Rule 16.1. IAALS’ 2010 Report, Surveys of the Colorado Bench & Bar on Colorado’s Simplified Pretrial Procedure for Civil Actions, focused on C.R.C.P. 16.1, a voluntary pretrial process for state court actions seeking $100,000 or less. The original survey effort provided the basis for a more objective study to verify and quantify the role of this rule in practice.

On November 28, 2012, IAALS expanded on the 2010 Report and published Measuring Rule 16.1: Colorado’s Simplified Civil Procedure Experiment, containing a docket analysis complemented by in-depth interviews, examining the Colorado experience and providing insight to jurisdictions around the country interested in streamlined pretrial procedures, case differentiation, and voluntary processes.

Changes to the 2018 Simplified Procedure Rule 16.1 include applying the Simplified Procedure presumptively to all civil lawsuits. The previous cap on damage awards of $100,000 in Simplified Procedure cases has been removed. The revised rule now mandates disclosures of persons, documents, damages, and insurance under Rule 26 and disclosure of proposed testimony from witnesses and experts. C.R.C.P. 16.1(k)(1)-(2). It also allows up to 6 hours of depositions per party and, if needed, additional preservation depositions; up to five requests for production of documents; inspection of property and things; and relevant medical examinations. C.R.C.P. 16.1(k)(4)(A). Parties should expect courts to enforce disclosure requirements and impose sanctions for the failure to comply with the mandate to provide full disclosures.

Cases may be excluded from Rule 16.1 if parties seek damages from any single defending party of at least $100,000, not including reasonable allowable attorney fees, interest, and costs. Parties may request a case in progress be transferred out of Simplified Procedure if one of the parties discovers that the claimant’s damages may exceed $100,000. Trial courts may exclude cases from Rule 16.1 if, in its discretion, it finds good cause for exclusion considering factors such as complexity of the case, the importance of the issues at stake, the parties’ relative access to relevant information, the parties’ resources, the importance of discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. C.R.C.P. 16.1(d)(2).  

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