SW Legal Educational Publishing

Judgment Against Partnership Not Enforceable Against Individual Partners Due to Failure to Name
Description Colorado high court upheld lower court decisions preventing the enforcement of malpractice liability judgment against law partnership where plaintiff had failed to name individual partners prior to judgment and expiration of statute of limitations.
Topic Business Organization
Key Words Partnership, Liability
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts The Gutriches filed a legal malpractice claim against a law partnership, associate Judd, and twenty unnamed partners, none of which were named or served individually. Before litigation was resolved, the partnership was dissolved and funds were not available to satisfy a possible judgment. When the Gutriches attempted to amend their complaint to name all partners individually, the statute of limitations on the action had expired and the court would not allow the amendment. The trial resulted in a verdict for the Gutriches of about $400,000. They moved to enforce the judgment against the unnamed partners, but the trial court and appeals court denied the motion. The Gutriches appealed.
Decision Affirmed. Under the "common name" statute, a plaintiff need not sue the partners themselves in order to bind the property of the partnership and the joint property of the partners, but a judgement against the partnership does not bind the separate property of an individual partner unless the plaintiff named the individual partner and the court had jurisdiction over that individual. Since the complaint failed to name the individual partners, which could have been done, the right to do so was lost due to lapse of time.
Citation Gutrich v. Cogswell & Wehrle, 961 P.2d 1115 (Sup. Ct., Colo., 1998)

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