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Schaden v. DIA Brewing Co., LLC.

2021 CO 4. No. 20SC225. CRCP 15(a)—CRCP 59—CRCP 60—Amendments—Finality—Futility.

January 11, 2021

This case required the Supreme Court to determine whether, after a district court enters an order dismissing an action pursuant to CRCP 12(b)(1), CRCP 15(a) gives the plaintiff the right to amend its complaint as a matter of course and without leave of the court or the consent of the defendant, or whether such a dismissal results in a final judgment that cuts off the plaintiff’s right to amend as a matter of course.

Reading CRCP 15(a) harmoniously with CRCP 59 and CRCP 60, the Court concluded that a final judgment cuts off a plaintiff’s right to file an amended complaint as a matter of course under CRCP 15(a). Accordingly, because the dismissal order at issue constituted a final judgment, plaintiff here did not have the right to amend its complaint as a matter of course but rather was obligated, if it wished to amend, to seek relief from the judgment and to file a motion requesting leave to amend or indicating that defendants had consented in writing to the filing of an amended complaint.

Nonetheless, in the circumstances presented, the Court deemed it appropriate to consider the viability of the amended complaint and concluded, contrary to the district court, that that amended pleading is not futile but rather states viable claims for relief.

Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment of the division below, albeit on different grounds, and remanded the case with directions that the case be returned to the district court with instructions that the court accept plaintiff’s amended complaint for filing, after which defendants may respond in the ordinary course.

Official Colorado Supreme Court proceedings can be found at the Colorado Supreme Court website.

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