Denver Lawyer Changes Legal Rule to Save Banks Thousands
DENVER, COLORADO A one-sentence amendment to Colorado’s Rules of Civil Procedure, approved by the Colorado Supreme Court effective Jan.1st, will save the state’s banks, courts and taxpayers many hours and thousands of dollars this year.
The amendment was the idea of Denver Lawyer Doug Koktavy, whose clients include banks seeking to recover personal property that is in foreclosure, known in “legalese” as a “replevin”.
For years, Koktavy and his clients were frustrated by the amount of time and money wasted on scheduling and rescheduling court hearings for replevin. The old rule required a judge review the replevin documents and schedule a hearing date within 10 days following the review.
The bank was then required to serve the defendant with the hearing order at least five business days before the hearing date. When weekend and holidays were factored in, the bank had the unrealistic task of personally serving the defendant within a day or two.
The result: foreclosure hearings often needed to be rescheduled a half dozen or more times before a case could be heard. Every time a hearing was rescheduled, the lawyer returned to Court and the judge would re-review the documents and re-enter an order.
Lawyers, meanwhile, were racking up billable hours and court staff was continually rescheduling hearings at taxpayer expense.
To solve the problem, Koktavy suggested a simple wording change to the Colorado Civil Rules Committee.
The committee’s approval streamlined the process by simply allowing the plaintiff to waive the 10 day limit. Banks could then anticipate service problems and set a hearing out 20 days or more, providing a reasonable chance to serve the defendant.
According to Don Childears, president of the Colorado Bankers Association, Koktavy’s rule change is significant for the banking industry. “This is a very positive change that allows banks to schedule predictable court hearings for collateral recovery and the lawyers only have to charge for it once,” Childears says. “Collectively, banks in Colorado will save a significant amount of money.”
The courts and taxpayers also benefit from updating the replevin process, according to former Denver District Court Judge Leslie Lawson. “Doug Koktavy’s idea to revise the replevin rule is an important practical improvement that saves the time and resources of an already overburdened court system,” says Lawson.
Koktavy understands, however, some lawyers will grumble about billing fewer hours for scheduling hearings. “I live on billable hours just like other lawyers,” says Koktavy. “But getting this change made in the system was the right thing to do. I’ve been able to save my clients time and money and they appreciate that.”
Ted Ethell, consumer loan officer at Citywide Banks, has followed the progress of the rule change and anxiously awaited its approval. Citywide Banks has used Koktavy’s law firm for replevin hearings for several years and says his bank has already seen the benefit of the rule change.
“This is an example of a small change in a bureaucratic legal rule that allows us to make the best of a bad situation,” Ethell says. “Banks lose a lot of money when a loan is in default. Now we resolve replevins much faster and do not incur needless legal fees because of unrealistic scheduling of hearings. We expect to save thousands of dollars this year because of Doug’s rule change.”
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