Colorado Supreme Court

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Colorado Supreme Court rules that Colorado civil procedure rules do not permit “Lone Pine” case management orders

April 20, 2015

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure do not permit district courts to issue so-called “Lone Pine” case management orders requiring a plaintiff to present prima facie evidence of general causation. “Lone pine” orders are often used in toxic tort cases in federal courts. In this case, the plaintiffs were unable to satisfy the “Lone Pine” order’s request for evidence that they suffered injuries caused by the defendant’s natural gas drilling operations.

The Colorado Supreme Court upheld the appellate court’s reversal of the district court’s Lone Pine order, holding instead that that Colorado’s civil rules do not permit “Lone Pine” case management orders.

Justice Boatright dissented, arguing that the Court’s decision would hinder active case management by Colorado trial courts.

U.S. Chamber files amicus brief

June 18, 2014

The U.S. Chamber asked the Colorado Supreme Court to rule that under Colorado civil procedure, a trial judge has broad authority to issue case management orders in toxic tort cases that require plaintiffs to produce credible expert evidence that a particular toxin could have caused the harms alleged by a plaintiff. In this case, the trial judge had issued such a “Lone Pine” order in a lawsuit alleging that an energy company’s hydraulic fracturing had caused vague, undefined health harms to the plaintiffs. The Chamber, in an amicus brief joined by the Denver Chamber, the Colorado Civil Justice League, and others, argued that “Lone Pine” orders are not only lawful in Colorado, but also necessary to keep Colorado courts from becoming clogged with meritless toxic tort cases.

Lee Mickus and Jessica E. Yates of Snell & Wilmer LLP represented the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as co-counsel to the National Chamber Litigation Center.

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