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Slack v. Farmers Insurance Exchange

Colorado Supreme Court
5 P.3d 280 (2000)


Facts

Juliette Slack (plaintiff) stopped at a red light waiting to make a right turn. As she began to make the turn, another vehicle ran the stoplight forcing Slack to slam on her brakes and causing her to sustain injuries to her chin, head, and neck. The following day, Slack was treated by her chiropractor who later submitted all charges to Slack’s insurer, Farmers Insurance Exchange (Farmers) (defendant). Farmers decided to obtain a second opinion regarding Slack’s injuries and sent her to Dr. Lloyd Lachow (defendant), an independent medical examiner. Farmers was aware that Lachow had allegedly sexually assaulted another one of its female insureds. During his examination of Slack, Dr. Lachow touched her clothed breast and pushed his pelvis into her back. Additionally, Dr. Lachow pulled hard on Slack’s neck and shook her head violently from side-to-side putting her in additional pain. Slack filed a six-count suit against Lachow. In the same action, Slack filed suit against Farmers claiming negligence, breach of contract, bad faith breach of contract, and outrageous conduct. Slack’s husband, Brett (plaintiff), brought a claim against Farmers for loss of consortium. The Slacks settled with Lachow prior to trial. Thereafter, Farmers designated Lachow a nonparty whose fault should be considered in apportioning the resulting total liability and damages. The jury held in favor of the Slacks and awarded Juliette $40,000 for her injuries and $16,000 in exemplary damages. Additionally, the jury awarded Brett $6,000 for his loss of consortium and $2,400 in exemplary damages. The jury apportioned 60 percent fault to Lachow and 40 percent fault to Farmers. The trial court reduced Juliette’s award in accordance with Farmer’s apportioned fault. However, the trial court did not reduce Brett’s award accordingly. Slack appealed the reduction of her award. Farmers cross-appealed the trial court’s refusal to apportion the damages awarded to Brett. The court of appeals held in favor of Farmers on both issues. The Slacks appealed. The Colorado Supreme Court granted certiorari to review.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Kourlis, J.)

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Dissent (Rice, J.)

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