Can parties write an agreement that negates the law? This question was considered in a Ponzi scheme case C. Randel Lewis v. Steve Taylor, No. 13CA0239, Court of Appeals of Colorado, Division IV (Feb. 9, 2017).
In 2006, Steve Taylor invested 3 million dollars with Sean Mueller, a licensed securities broker. Taylor withdrew his investment the next year. He had made a $487,000 profit. In 2010, the Colorado Securities Commissioner figured out that Mueller’s fund was a Ponzi scheme. Mueller was convicted of securities fraud, and theft among other things. Randel Lewis was appointed Receiver to distribute Mueller’s assets to his creditors.
Lewis wanted to get back the profit Taylor had made on his investment in Mueller’s fund under the Colorado Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act or CUFTA.
Taylor and Lewis entered into a written agreement that would let Lewis bring a CUFTA claim even if the statutory time period had run. The two parties entered into this agreement within the statutory time period. Lewis filed a CUFTA claim outside the statutory time period, but within the time period outlined in their written agreement.
Both parties moved for summary judgment. Taylor said there was no claim because the statute had tolled and a written agreement cannot extend the statutory time period. The district court ruled for Lewis and the written agreement and granted him summary judgment.
CRS § 38-8-110(1) states a CUFTA action is extinguished unless it is brought within the statutory time period. The court said the only way a written agreement could waive that time limit would be if that time limit was found to be non-jurisdictional. In this case the court found the CUFTA time limit to be a jurisdictional one and therefore could not be altered by a writing. Therefore the time period had run, and the CUFTA claim was extinguished and Taylor gained immunity from the claim.
The judgment was reversed and the case was remanded for entry of summary judgment for Taylor.
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