In 1986, the Colorado General Assembly enacted the Pro Rata Liability Act, codified at C.R.S. § 13-21-111.5, which eliminated joint and several liability for defendants in favor of pro rata liability. The statute was “designed to avoid holding defendants liable for an amount of compensatory damages reflecting more than their respective degrees of fault.” However, the following year, the Colorado legislature carved out an exception to preserve joint liability for persons “who consciously conspire and deliberately pursue a common plan or design to commit a tortious act.” Because of this conspiracy exception, plaintiffs try to circumvent the general rule against joint and several liability by arguing that construction professionals defending construction defect cases were acting in concert, as co-conspirators. Plaintiffs argue that if they can prove that two or more construction professionals consciously conspired and deliberately pursued a common plan or design, i.e., to build a home or residential community, and such a plan results in the commission of a tort, i.e., negligence, the defendants may be held jointly and severally liable for all of the damages awarded.
Since 1986, Colorado courts have construed the “conspiracy” provision in § 13-21-111.5(4), but some have disagreed as to what constitutes a conspiracy for purposes of imposing joint liability.
In Colorado, the elements of civil conspiracy are that: “(1) two or more persons; (2) come to a meeting of the minds; (3) on an object to be accomplished or a course of action to be followed; (4) and one or more overt unlawful acts are performed; (5) with damages as the proximate result thereof.”