Gale v. City & County of DenverAnnotate this Case
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals certified a question of Colorado law to the state Supreme Court. Plaintiff Franklin Gale was terminated from his job as a deputy sheriff with the Denver Sheriff’s Department. At the time of his termination, he was serving as chief of the Downtown Detention Center, and the Denver Department of Safety had concluded that he had violated several internal regulations and certain Career Service Rules. Gale sought review of his termination before the Denver Career Service Board. After a hearing officer and then the full Board affirmed Gale’s termination, he filed a C.R.C.P. 106(a)(4) claim for judicial review in the Denver District Court, naming the City and County of Denver (the “City”), among others, as defendants. In addition, Gale filed a separate action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. section 1983 against the City, among others, in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado (the “federal action”). In the federal action, Gale sought money damages for the City’s alleged violations of his First Amendment rights to free speech and free association. The Denver District Court ultimately affirmed the Career Service Board’s order upholding Gale’s termination, and the City thereafter sought and obtained leave to amend its answer in the federal action to assert a defense of claim preclusion. The City then moved for summary judgment in the federal action based on this defense. As asked by the federal appeals court, the issue presented questioned whether Colorado crafted an exception to the doctrine of res judicata such that a prior action under Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 106(a)(4) could not preclude 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims brought in federal court, even through such claims could have been brought in the prior state action. The Supreme Court answered the question "no."