June 20, 2018

Colorado Court of Appeals: Jurisdiction for Appeal of Final Administrative Action Lies in Court of Appeals, Not District Court

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in West Colorado Motors, LLC v. General Motors, LLC on Thursday, June 30, 2016.

Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction—Motion to Dismiss—Final Agency Action.

Park Meadows is a franchised Buick and GMC automobile dealership located in Lone Tree. Alpine is also a franchised Buick and GMC automobile dealership located in Denver. General Motors, LLC (GM) is a manufacturer and distributor of automobiles. C.R.S. § 12-6-120.3(1) required GM to provide at least 60-days notice to certain of its franchised dealers if it intended to relocate an existing motor vehicle dealer to a location that was within another motor vehicle dealer’s “relevant market area.” GM provided statutory notice to Park Meadows that it intended to approve the relocation of the Alpine dealership to Littleton. Park Meadows then sent a letter to the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Revenue protesting the relocation and requesting an investigation, hearing, or cease and desist order. The Executive Director responded, stating that there was no basis to proceed with an investigation. Park Meadows sent another letter to the Executive Director, alleging violations of C.R.S. § 12-6-120.3. The Executive Director responded, again stating there was no basis upon which to proceed with an investigation. Park Meadows then filed a complaint in Denver District Court alleging that GM unreasonably approved Alpine’s relocation in violation of C.R.S. § 12-6-120.3(1.5) and, in the alternative, against the Executive Director to order her to undertake an investigation or other action. The Executive Director filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that her second letter was “final agency action” that was subject to review only in the court of appeals. The district court agreed and dismissed the action as to the Executive Director. It denied a motion by Park Meadows for reconsideration. Alpine filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, which the district court granted, finding that jurisdiction for any relief lies in the court of appeals.

Park Meadows appealed all three orders, arguing that the Executive Director’s second letter did not constitute “final agency action.” The court disagreed. It found that the letter was clearly final action finding that Park Meadows had no basis on which to proceed. The court then found no abuse of discretion in the district court’s denial of Park Meadows’ motion for reconsideration. The court also affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the claim against Alpine because the court had sole jurisdiction to review the Executive Director’s decision.

The orders were affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.