Hierath-Prout v. Bradley

In Hierath-Prout v. Bradley, 982 P.2d 329 (Colo. Ct. App. 1999), the court applied the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure to reach the opposite result. Following entry of summary judgment in his favor, the defendant filed a bill of costs. In response, the plaintiff filed a motion seeking her own costs and challenging the defendant's bill of costs. The trial court denied the plaintiff's motion and awarded the defendant the full amount he sought. The plaintiff appealed, claiming the trial court lacked jurisdiction to award costs to the defendant because it did not rule on the bill of costs within 60 days as required by C.R.C.P. 59(j), which provided: "The court shall determine any post-trial motion within 60 days of the filing of the motion. ....Any post-trial motion that has not been decided within the 60-day determination period shall, without further action by the court, be deemed denied for all purposes. ..." The court of appeals held that a request for costs was not subject to the 60-day limitation in C.R.C.P. 59(j). In reaching this result, the court found it important that rulings on requests for costs, unlike rulings on other post-trial motions, do not affect the finality of the judgment on the merits. The court said: "A judgment is final when it disposes of the entire litigation on the merits. However, a motion for costs does not stay the finality of a judgment. C.R.C.P. 58(a) specifically provides that the "entry of the judgment shall not be delayed for the taxing of costs." Thus, as contemplated by that rule, a request for costs does not seek to amend the judgment entered by the court. See Koontz v. Rosener, 787 P.2d 192 (Colo. App. 1989) (filing of notice of appeal on the judgment on the merits did not divest the trial court of its continuing jurisdiction to determine the issues posed by timely filed cost bills); Roa v. Miller, 784 P.2d 826 (Colo. Ct. App. 1989; see also Buchanan v. Stanships, Inc. 485 U.S. 265, 108 S. Ct. 1130, 99 L. Ed. 2d 289 (1988) (holding that a judgment on the merits is appealable prior to the trial court's disposition of the prevailing party's motion for costs)." (Hierath-Prout, 982 P.2d at 330.)