April 26, 2017

Archives for September 1, 2016

Colorado Court of Appeals: Reformation of Covenants Agreement Placed Parties in Position with CCIOA-Compliant Agreement

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Arrabelle at Vail Square Residential Condominium Association, Inc. v. Arrabelle at Vail Square LLC on Thursday, August 25, 2016.

Development—Association—Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act—Small Planned Community—Reformation—Special Master.

The Arrabelle at Vail Square (Arrabelle) is a luxury development built and managed by Vail Resorts Development Company and Arrabelle at Vail Square LLC (Vail Resorts). Arrabelle includes multi-million dollar residential condominiums, a boutique hotel, restaurants, retail shops, an ice-skating rink, a spa, parking, and other amenities. At the time of development, Vail Resorts recorded a plat establishing seven separate real estate parcels collectively titled “Lot 1” and “Airspace Lots A-F” at Arrabelle. Vail Resorts then entered into a Reciprocal Easements and Covenants Agreement (RECA) governing those parcels and creating two lots—the Airspace Lot (which would be developed into condominiums) and the Project Lot (the remainder of the property). The RECA establishes benefits, burdens, and cost allocations between both lots, and it regulates the use and enjoyment of both lots. Immediately after recording the RECA, Vail Resorts recorded a condominium plat creating 67 condominiums in the Airspace Lot and a condominium declaration creating the Arabelle at Vail Square Condominium Association, Inc. (Association). Problems soon developed between Vail Resorts and the Association. The Association subsequently filed this action seeking a declaratory judgment allowing it to terminate the RECA or, alternatively, ruling that the RECA was in violation of the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (CCIOA), requiring reformation. Among other things, the trial court (1) ruled that Arrabelle is not a small planned community under C.R.S. § 38-33.3-116(2), because it was subject to development rights; (2) reformed the RECA to adjust the cost allocation ratio between the lots; and (3) had a special master draft an amendment to the RECA.

On appeal, Vail Resorts argued that the trial court erred in ruling that Arrabelle is not a “small planned community” under CCIOA § 38-33.3-116(2) because Vail Resorts reserved development rights under the RECA. By definition, the Arrabelle, which contains 67 units, is not a small planned community containing fewer than 20 units under CCIOA.

Vail Resorts also argued that the trial court erred in reforming the cost allocation and RECA and master association documents because those documents contain terms not required by CCIOA. Because the 59.7% cost allocation to the Association did not correspond to the formula established in RECA section 6(b), and because that allocation discriminated in favor of Vail Resorts’ Project Lot without properly disclosing that the allocation substantially benefited that lot, the trial court did not err in reforming RECA section 6(b) pursuant to the Association’s expert’s recommendation based on as-built drawings of the Arrabelle.

Vail Resorts also contended that additional court-ordered reformations to the RECA exceeded the authority of the court. Principles of equity support the trial court’s conclusion that reformations were necessary for the RECA to comply with CCIOA, and the trial court did not abuse its discretion in adopting the special master’s reformations. The court placed Vail Resorts and the Association in the position they would have been had Vail Resorts initially created a CCIOA-compliant common interest community.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Law Firm Breached Contract Not to Represent One Association Member Against Another

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Semler v. Hellerstein on Thursday, August 25, 2016.

Notice of Appeal—Timeliness—Amended Complaint—Jurisdiction—Motion to Dismiss—Fraud—Concealment—Misrepresentation—Civil Conspiracy—Breach of Fiduciary Duty—Breach of Contract—Third Party Beneficiary—Attorney Fees.

Plaintiff Semler and defendant Perfect Place are both members of the 1940 Blake Street Condominium Association (Association). Defendant Hellerstein owns and controls both Perfect Place and Bruce S. Hellerstein, CPA P.C. Hellerstein also served as treasurer of the Association. Defendant Bewley is an attorney employed by defendant law firm Berenbaum Weinshienk, P.C. At all relevant times, Bewley represented Hellerstein and his two corporate entities.

This case stems from a related quiet title action in which Perfect Place asked the court to determine that it was the rightful owner of parking spaces C, D, and E. The court presiding over the quiet title action determined that Semler owned parking spaces C and D, while Perfect Place owned parking space E. Semler then brought the current suit, claiming that Bewley and Hellerstein devised a scheme to gain title to Semler’s building parking spaces C and D. Semler’s first amended complaint alleged claims for breach of fiduciary duty against Hellerstein, aiding and abetting that breach against Bewley, and civil conspiracy against all defendants. The court granted defendants’ motions to dismiss. Semler then moved to amend his complaint for the second time, proposing to add claims for fraud, nondisclosure and concealment, negligent misrepresentation, negligent supervision, vicarious liability, and breach of contract. He also more clearly explained that he was seeking damages for the lost income opportunities he suffered as a result of having to defend against the quiet title action. The court denied Semler’s second motion to amend based on lack of standing and awarded attorney fees in favor of defendants.

On appeal, defendants asserted that Semler’s notice of appeal was untimely and, therefore, the Court of Appeals lacked jurisdiction to consider the appeal. The Court determined that Semler timely filed his notice of appeal.

Semler contended that the trial court erred by denying his motion for leave to amend his complaint a second time. The court, however, considered the claims in the second amended complaint when ruling on the motion to dismiss.

Semler argued that the trial court erred in granting defendants’ motions to dismiss. The Court reviewed the trial court’s dismissal of the action based on Semler’s second amended complaint. Semler’s fraud, concealment, and misrepresentation claims were all premised on conversations and transactions between a third party and defendants in which Semler was not involved. Semler lacked standing to bring these claims. Moreover, Semler’s claims for lost opportunity damages are too remote and unforeseeable to be recoverable under these claims. Therefore, these claims failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and should have been dismissed under C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5).

Semler also contended that defendants conspired with each other to obtain his parking spaces. He is not entitled to relief on a civil conspiracy claim because a director cannot conspire with the corporation which he serves, which is the premise of Semler’s argument. Semler’s claim for breach of fiduciary duty against Bewley failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Additionally, because Hellerstein was not acting in his role as treasurer when he engaged in the allegedly fraudulent conduct, Semler’s breach of fiduciary duty claim against Hellerstein fails. Because these claims fail, Semler’s aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty claim against Bewley and negligent supervision and vicarious liability claims against Bewley’s law firm, Berenbaum Weinshienk, fail as well.

As to his breach of contract claim, although Semler was not a party to the contract between Berenbaum Weinshienk and the Association in which Berenbaum Weinshienk agreed that it would not represent one Association member against another, Semler sufficiently pleaded a third-party beneficiary breach of contract claim pursuant to this agreement. Therefore, the case was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings on this claim.

Semler also contended that if the dismissal order is reversed, the attorney fees award in favor of defendants must also be reversed. Only Semler’s breach of contract claim survived C.R.C.P. 12(b) dismissal. Thus, because that claim was not pleaded against the Perfect Place defendants, the attorney fees award to them remains undisturbed. The order awarding fees to Bewley and Berenbaum Weinshienk was reversed.

The orders were affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the case was remanded with directions.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Announcement Sheet, 9/1/2016

On Thursday, September 1, 2016, the Colorado Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and 33 unpublished opinions.

Neither State Judicial nor the Colorado Bar Association provides case summaries for unpublished appellate opinions. The case announcement sheet is available here.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 8/31/2016

On Wednesday, August 31, 2016, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and  five unpublished opinions.

McDonald v. J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.

Lewis v. Progressive Pipeline Construction, LLC

Rajala v. Gardner

Frye v. Medina

Woolf v. Wiggington

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, some published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.