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Legislature to Consider Law Overturning Colorado Supreme Court Decision Limiting Employer Negligence

Dallas Norton, Esq. March 27, 2021

On Tuesday, HB21-1188 passed out of the Colorado House Judiciary Committee with a bi-partisan vote. The bill, if passed into law, overturns a 2017 Colorado Supreme Court ruling, Ferrer v. Okbamicael, 390 P.3D (Colo.2 2017). Under the ruling in Ferrer, the Colorado Supreme Court stated that an employer would not be responsible for its own negligence in hiring, training, or supervising an employee so long as the employer admitted that the employee was acting within the course and scope of his or her employment. Basically, under the 2017 holding by the Colorado Supreme Court, an employer could knowingly hire a repeated drunk driver, or sex offender, and subject the public to the actions of the employee without any consequences. To avoid liability for negligently allowing such an employee to harm the public, the employer need only admit that the employee was on-the-job when its employee injured an innocent victim. The victim would be limited to going after the employee and the employer would escape any liability or responsibility of its own.

The new bill asserts that even if the employer assumes liability for the action of its employee, they are not immune from their own liability.