Colorado Supreme Court Interprets Premises Liability Statute

Colorado Supreme Court Interprets Premises Liability Statute

The concept of landowner premises liability in CO dates back to its roots within common law. In 1990, the legislators formally implemented the Colorado Premises Liability Statute § 13-21-115 and the majority of the provisions have remained the same since. In 2008, a case developed which triggered a challenge to the statute’s interpretation. This ultimately led to the need for the CO Supreme Court to interject and clarify the issue in Larrieu v. Best Buy Stores L.P.

The Injury

Gary Larrieu, the Plaintiff, bought a freezer unit at Best Buy in Aurora, CO. He brought a truck to their warehouse site with a trailer unit to allow him to transport the unit with it remaining upright. The trailer had a removable rear tailgate which weighed over 70 lbs. A Best Buy staff member assisted Mr. Larrieu in removing the tailgate. In this loading process, Larrieu was walking backward carrying the gate and tripped over a curb and fractured his spine.

District Court Ruling

Mr. Larrieu brought an action of premises liability against the retailer. The court approved Best Buy’s motion for a summary judgement. They stated that the employee had a responsibility to assist Larrieu with loading the vehicle, but that this activity was beyond the scope of the liability statute, as it was not inherently or directly “related to the land”.

Supreme Court

The high court held that the CO premises liability law is not held only for situations or activities inherently or directly related to the land. Rather, they explained that the statute is applicable to activities and situations within the property that a landowner is liable for. Such restrictions relating to the land were not present within the language that the General Assembly provided in the statute. They reinforced that the statute is applicable in instances when:

  • Injuries occur upon the real property of a landowner.
  • The injury was the result of a condition on the property, or from the incidence of activity or situations that were present.
  • A landowner is an individual or entity that is either an agent of, or a party in possession of the property, that is legally responsible.

This interpretation of the statute was largely viewed as being somewhat vague, making it broad enough to apply in virtually any tort occurring on the property of another party. The court addressed this concern by explaining that these actions need to be evaluated on an individual, fact-based, case-by-case basis.

Denver Premises Liability Attorney 

Under Colorado law, landowners have a duty to reasonably provide for the safety of guests, customers, and visitors. Proceeding into these cases without an experienced attorney, could result in partial or insufficient compensation. Injury victims should contact the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal today to begin a free case evaluation. They will work hard to obtain the monetary awards that you are entitled to.