State v. Nieto

In State v. Nieto, 993 P.2d 493 (Colo. 2000), the plaintiff sued the State of Colorado for damages based on the alleged nursing malpractice of one of its employees. Colorado had a certificate of review statute, Colo. Rev. State. 13-20-602, which at the relevant time provided in part: (1) In every action for damages or indemnity based upon the alleged professional negligence of a licensed professional, the plaintiff's or complainant's attorney shall file with the court a certificate of review, for each licensed professional named as a party, as specified in subsection (3) of this section, within sixty days after the service of the complaint, counterclaim, or cross claim against such licensed professional unless the court determines that a longer period is necessary for good cause shown. (4) The failure to file a certificate of review in accordance with this section shall result in the dismissal of the complaint, counterclaim, or cross claim. (Nieto, at 501-02.) The Colorado Court of Appeals held a certificate of review was not required because the State was not a licensed professional named as a party. The Colorado Supreme Court reversed that ruling. The court found the statute to be ambiguous, and after considering the legislative history, concluded: The General Assembly sought to eliminate any situations in which a claimant could avoid the certificate requirement. Based on our review of the legislative history, it is clear that the certificate requirement was not only to apply to actions in which licensed professionals are named as a party, but also to claims based on the negligence of licensed professionals. Thus, while the court of appeals is correct in stating that neither the State nor the DOC can be characterized as a licensed professional, Nieto's claim for nursing malpractice falls squarely within the class of claims covered by section 13-20-602. (Nieto, at 504.)