August 20, 2017

Colorado Court of Appeals: District Court Correctly Characterized Water Storage Plan as Frustrated Plan in Condemnation Action

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Board of County Commissioners of County of Weld v. DPG Farms on Thursday, June 15, 2017.

Condemnation—Highest and Best Use—Lost Income—Costs.

The Board of County Commissioners of Weld County (the County) filed a petition in condemnation to extend a public road over 19 acres of DPG Farms, LLC’s 760-acre property (the property). When condemnation proceedings were initiated, the property was used primarily for agricultural and recreational purposes. The parties stipulated to the County’s immediate possession of the 19 acres and proceeded to a valuation trial. The dispute centered on the highest and best use of 280 acres that contained gravel deposits. DPG’s experts testified about the highest and best use of the property. The district court determined, as a matter of law, that the evidence was too speculative to support a finding that water storage was the highest and best use of the relevant area (Cell C); instead, it determined that the highest and best use of those acres was gravel mining, but not water storage as well. The jury awarded DPG $183,795 in damages for the condemned property and nothing for the residue. DPG then requested costs. The district court rejected a substantial portion of the costs on grounds that they were disproportionate to DPG’s success and that certain expert evidence had been excluded.

On appeal, DPG contended that the district court erred in rejecting water storage as the highest and best use of certain portions of the property. The Court of Appeals reviewed the evidence that the district court’s determination was based on and concluded that the district court did not err in determining, as a matter of law, that the evidence was too speculative to support a jury finding that water storage was the highest and best use of Cell C.

DPG also argued that the trial court erred in excluding evidence of lost income, arguing that it was admissible pursuant to an income capitalization approach to valuing the property. DPG’s evidence of a potential income stream was admissible not as the measure of its damages but rather as a factor that could inform the fair market value of the property. And both the appraiser and the mining expert testified that the potential income stream from mining informed their fair market valuations. Because the lost income evidence, on its own, did not reflect the proper measure of damages, the district court correctly excluded it.

Finally, because the income valuation evidence presented by DPG’s experts was properly excluded, the district court did not abuse its discretion in limiting DPG’s award of costs on this basis.

The judgment and cost order were affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: County Assessor Authorized to Retroactively Assess Property Taxes on Oil and Gas Leaseholds

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Kinder Morgan CO2 Co., L.P. v. Montezuma County Board of Commissioners on Monday, June 19, 2017.

Oil and Gas—Property Taxation—Statutory Construction.

The supreme court reviewed the court of appeals’ conclusion that the Montezuma County Assessor had statutory authority to retroactively assess property taxes on oil and gas leaseholds operated by Kinder Morgan, after the assessor determined that Kinder Morgan had underreported the wellhead selling price of CO2 gas produced at the leaseholds. The court considered whether this assessment was authorized under the statute permitting retroactive property tax assessments when, pursuant to C.R.S. § 39-5-125(1), “taxable property has been omitted from the assessment roll.” Given Colorado’s self-reporting scheme for property taxation of oil and gas leaseholds and the legislature’s amendments to that scheme—which describe the “underreporting of the selling price or the quantity of oil and gas sold [from a leasehold]” as a form of omitted property, C.R.S. §§ 29-1-301(1) and 39-10-107(1)—the court concluded that the assessor had statutory authority to issue the assessment in this case. The court further concluded that the Board of Assessment Appeals did not err in determining that Kinder Morgan had underreported the wellhead selling price of CO2. The court therefore affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: CCIOA Permits Developer to Retain Right of Consent to Declaration Amendments

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Vallagio at Inverness Residential Condominium Association, Inc. v. Metropolitan Homes, Inc. on Monday, June 5, 2017.

Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act—Declaration Amendments—Arbitration Agreements—Colorado Consumer Protection Act Claims.

This case concerned whether (1) the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act, C.R.S. §§ 38-33.3-101 to -402, permits a developer–declarant to retain a right of consent to amendments to a provision of a common interest community’s declaration mandating arbitration of construction defect claims, and (2) the Colorado Consumer Protection Act, C.R.S. §§ 6-1-101 to -1121, precludes arbitration of claims asserted pursuant to that Act. Answering the first question in the affirmative and the second in the negative, the supreme court affirmed the court of appeals’ judgment requiring arbitration of the claims at issue and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Bills Signed Adding Water Right for Industrial Hemp, Amending Collections of Delinquent Taxes on Mobile Homes, Changing Election Laws, and More Signed

Though the legislative session is over, the governor continues to sign bills. He signed two bills on Friday, May 19; three bills on Saturday, May 20; three bills on Sunday, May 21; six bills on Monday, May 22; six bills on Tuesday, May 23; four bills on Wednesday, May 24; 28 bills on Thursday, May 25; one bill on Friday, May 26; and one bill on Tuesday, May 30. To date, the governor has signed 285 bills and vetoed one bill this legislative session. The bills signed since May 19 are summarized here.

Friday, May 19, 2017

  • HB 17-1354“Concerning the Collection of Delinquent Taxes on Certain Mobile Homes,” by Rep. KC Becker and Sens. John Kefalas & Kevin Priola. The bill modifies the county treasurer’s duties in connection with the collection of delinquent taxes on mobile or manufactured homes that are not affixed to the ground.
  • SB 17-305“Concerning Modifications to Select Statutory Provisions Affecting Primary Elections Enacted by Voters at the 2016 Statewide General Election to Facilitate the Effective Implementation of the State’s Election Laws, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Stephen Fenberg & Kevin Lundberg and Reps. Patrick Neville & Mike Foote.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

  • HB 17-1113“Concerning Electronic Participation in Committee Meetings During the Legislative Interim,” by Reps. Yeulin Willett & Jeni Arndt and Sen. Ray Scott. The bill gives the executive committee of the legislative council the ability to consider, recommend, and establish policies regarding electronic participation by senators or representatives in committee meetings during the legislative interim.
  • HB 17-1258“Concerning Renaming Delta-Montrose Technical College to Technical College of the Rockies,” by Reps. Millie Hamner & Yeulin Willett and Sens. Kerry Donovan & Don Coram. The bill changes the name of ‘Delta-Montrose Technical College’ to ‘Technical College of the Rockies’.
  • SB 17-280“Concerning Extending the Repeal Date of the Colorado Economic Development Commission, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Reps. Dan Thurlow & Tracy Kraft-Tharp. The bill extends the Colorado economic development commission by changing the repeal date of its organic statute to July 1, 2025.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

  • HB 17-1003“Concerning a Strategic Action Plan to Address Teacher Shortages in Colorado,” by Rep. Barbara McLaughlin and Sen. Don Coram. The bill requires the Department of Higher Education in partnership with the Department of Education to examine recruitment, preparation, and retention of teachers and to prepare a strategic plan to address teacher shortages in school districts and public schools within the state.
  • HB 17-1077“Concerning the Useful Public Service Cash Fund,” by Rep. Donald Valdez and Sen. Don Coram. The bill creates the useful public service cash fund in the judicial branch to facilitate the administration of programs that supervise the performance of useful public service by persons who are required to perform such service pursuant to a criminal sentence.
  • SB 17-117“Concerning Confirmation that Industrial Hemp is a Recognized Agricultural Product for Which a Person with a Water Right Decreed for Agricultural Use may Use the Water Subject to the Water Right for Industrial Hemp Cultivation,” by Sen. Don Coram and Reps. Donald Valdez & Marc Catlin. The bill confirms that a person with an absolute or conditional water right decreed for agricultural use may use the water subject to the water right for the growth or cultivation of industrial hemp if the person is registered by the Department of Agriculture to grow industrial hemp for commercial or research and development purposes.

Monday, May 22, 2017

  • HB 17-1104“Concerning the Exclusion from State Taxable Income of the Monetary Value of any Medal Won by an Athlete while Competing for the United States of America at the Olympic Games, so long as the Athlete’s Federal Adjusted Gross Income does not Exceed a Specified Amount,” by Rep. Clarice Navarro and Sen. Kevin Priola. The bill specifies that for the purpose of determining the state income tax liability of an individual, income earned as a direct result of winning a medal while competing for the United States of America at the olympic games is excluded from state taxable income.
  • HB 17-1283“Concerning the Creation of a Task Force to Examine Workforce Resiliency in the Child Welfare System,” by Reps. Jonathan Singer & Dan Nordberg and Sens. John Cooke & Leroy Garcia. The bill creates a task force to organize county-level versions of and guidelines for child welfare caseworker resiliency programs modeled on national resiliency programs.
  • HB 17-1289“Concerning a Requirement that the State Engineer Promulgate Rules that Establish an Optional Streamlined Approach to Calculate the Historical Consumptive Use of a Water Right,” by Reps. Donald Valdez & Chris Hansen and Sens. Larry Crowder & Don Coram. The bill directs the state engineer to promulgate rules that take into account local conditions that an applicant can use to calculate historical consumptive use.
  • SB 17-074“Concerning the Creation of a Pilot Program in Certain Areas of the State Experiencing High Levels of Opioid Addiction to Award Grants to Increase Access to Addiction Treatment, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. Leroy Garcia and Rep. Daneya Esgar. The bill reates the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) expansion pilot program, administered by the University of Colorado College of Nursing, to expand access to medication-assisted treatment to opioid-dependent patients in Pueblo and Routt counties.
  • SB 17-105“Concerning Consumers’ Right to Know their Electric Utility charges by requiring investor-owned electric utilities to provide their customers with a comprehensive breakdown of cost on their monthly bills,” by Sen. Leroy Garcia and Reps. Daneya Esgar & KC Becker. The bill requires an investor-owned electric utility to file with the public utilities commission for the commission’s review a comprehensive billing format that the investor-owned electric utility has developed for its monthly billing of customers.
  • SB 17-153“Concerning Establishment of the Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission to Oversee the Preservation and Expansion of Amtrak Southwest Chief Rail Service in Colorado and Facilitate the Development and Operation of a Front Range Passenger Rail System that Provides Passenger Rail Service In and Along the Interstate 25 Corridor,” by Sens. Larry Crowder & Leroy Garcia and Rep. Daneya Esgar. The bill replaces the existing southwest chief rail line economic development, rural tourism, and infrastructure repair and maintenance commission, the current statutory authorization for which expires on July 1, 2017, with an expanded southwest chief and front range passenger rail commission.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

  • HB 17-1248“Concerning the Funding of Colorado Water Conservation Board Projects, and, in Connection Therewith, Making Appropriations,” by Rep. Jeni Arndt and Sens. John Cooke & Jerry Sonnenberg. The bill appropriates the following amounts from the Colorado Water Conservation Board construction fund to the CWCB or the Division of Water Resources for certain projects.
  • HB 17-1279“Concerning the Requirement that a Unit Owners’ Association Obtain Approval Through a Vote of Unit Owners Before Filing a Construction Defect Action,” by Reps. Alec Garnett & Lori Saine and Sens. Lucia Guzman & Jack Tate. The bill requires that, before the executive board of a unit owners’ association (HOA) in a common interest community brings suit against a developer or builder on behalf of unit owners based on a defect in construction work not ordered by the HOA itself, the board must notify the unit owners, call a meeting of the executive board, and obtain approval of a majority of unit owners.
  • HB 17-1280“Concerning Conforming Colorado Statutory Language Related to Disability Trusts to the Federal ’21st Century Cures Act’,” by Reps. Dafna Michaelson Jenet & Dave Young and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill conforms Colorado statutory language relating to the creation of a disability trust to conform to the language established in the federal ’21st Century Cures Act’. Specifically, it clarifies that the individual who is the beneficiary of a disability trust can also be the person who establishes such trust.
  • HB 17-1353“Concerning Implementing Medicaid Initiatives that Create Higher Value in the Medicaid Program Leading to Better Health Outcomes for Medicaid Clients, and, in Connection Therewith, Continuing the Implementation of the Accountable Care Collaborative and Authorizing Performance-based Provider Payments,” by Rep. Dave Young and Sen. Kevin Lundberg. The bill authorizes the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to continue its implementation of the medicaid care delivery system, referred to as the accountable care collaborative (ACC).
  • SB 17-209“Concerning Access to the Ballot by Candidates,” by Sen. Kevin Priola and Rep. Mike Weissman. The bill makes various changes to the laws governing access to the ballot.
  • SB 17-232“Concerning Continuation under the Sunset Law of the Bingo-Raffle Advisory Board, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Recommendations of the 2016 Sunset Report of the Department of Regulatory Agencies,” by Sen. Stephen Fenberg and Rep. Paul Rosenthal. The bill The bill implements the recommendations of the sunset review and report on the licensing of bingo and other games of chance through the Secretary of State.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

  • HB 17-1155“Concerning the Ability to Cure Campaign Finance Reporting Deficiencies Without Penalty,” by Rep. Dan Thurlow and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill requires the Secretary of State to give notice to the particular committee by e-mail of deficiencies alleged in a complaint pursuant to the campaign finance provisions of the state constitution or the ‘Fair Campaign Practices Act’ (FCPA).
  • HB 17-1317“Concerning the Authority of the State Historical Society to Dispose of Real Property Located on the Former Lowry Air Force Base,” by Reps. Daneya Esgar & Chris Hansen and Sens. John Kefalas & Randy Baumgardner. The bill grants the state historical society the authority to sell a vacant cold storage facility located on the former Lowry Air Force base.
  • HB 17-1342“Concerning Authorization for a County to Submit a Ballot Question for a County Public Safety Improvements Tax at a Biennial County or November Odd-year Election,” by Rep. Adrienne Benavidez and Sen. Larry Crowder. The bill authorizes a county to submit a ballot question at a biennial county election or an election held in November of an odd-numbered year.
  • HB 17-1356“Concerning the Temporary Authority of the Colorado Economic Development Commission to Allow Certain Businesses to Treat Specific Existing Income Tax Credits Differently,” by Reps. Crisanta Duran & Daneya Esgar and Sens. Leroy Garcia & Jack Tate. The bill allows the Colorado economic development commission to allow certain businesses that make a strategic capital investment in the state, subject to a maximum amount, and subject to the requirements of the specified income tax credits, to treat any of the following income tax credits allowed to the business as either carryforwardable for a five-year period or as transferable under certain circumstances.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

  • HB 17-1072: “Concerning Human Trafficking for Sexual Servitude,” by Reps. Lois Landgraf & Polly Lawrence and Sen. John Cooke. The bill amends the language defining the crime of human trafficking for sexual servitude to include that a person who knowingly advertises, offers to sell, or sells travel services that facilitate activities defined as human trafficking of a minor for sexual servitude commits the offense of human trafficking of a minor for sexual servitude. ‘Travel services’ are defined in the bill.
  • HB 17-1190“Concerning the Limited Applicability of the Colorado Supreme Court’s Decision in St. Jude’s Co. v. Roaring Fork Club, LLC, 351 P.3d 442 (Colo. 2015),” by Rep. KC Becker and Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg. The bill provides that the decision in the St. Jude’s Co. case interpreting section 37-92-103(4) does not apply to previously decreed absolute and conditional water rights or claims pending as of July 15, 2015. The interpretation of section 37-92-103 (4) in St. Jude’s Co. applies only to direct-flow appropriations, without storage, filed after July 15, 2015, for water diverted from a surface stream or tributary groundwater by a private entity for private aesthetic, recreational, and piscatorial purpose.
  • HB 17-1209“Concerning Peace Officer Designation for the Manager of the Office of Prevention and Security Within the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management in the Department of Public Safety,” by Reps. Jovan Melton & Terri Carver and Sens. Rhonda Fields & John Cooke. The bill designates as a peace officer the manager of the office of prevention and security within the division of homeland security and emergency management in the department of public safety.
  • HB 17-1223“Concerning the Creation of a Fraud Reporting Hotline to be Administered by the State Auditor, and, in Connection Therewith, Establishing Referral and Reporting Processes and State Auditor Investigative Authority,” by Reps. Lori Saine & Tracy Kraft-Tharp and Sens. Cheri Jahn & Tim Neville. The bill requires the state auditor to establish and administer a telephone number, fax number, email address, mailing address, or internet-based form whereby any individual may report an allegation of fraud committed by a state employee or an individual acting under a contract with a state agency. This system is referred to in the bill as the ‘fraud hotline’ or ‘hotline’ and any report to the hotline as a ‘hotline call’.
  • HB 17-1238“Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of Laws Related to Debt Management and Collection Services from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Rep. Pete Lee and Sen. Chris Holbert. The bill relocates the laws related to debt management and collection services from articles 14, 14.1, 14.3, and 14.5 of title 12.
  • HB 17-1239“Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of Laws Related to Private Occupational Schools from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Rep. Cole Wist and Sen. Lucia Guzman. The bill creates a new article 64 in title 23 of the Colorado Revised Statutes and relocates the repealed provisions of article 59 of title 12 of the Colorado Revised Statutes to that article 64 and repeals article 59 of title 12 of the Colorado Revised Statutes.
  • HB 17-1240“Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of the Laws Related to the Department of Public Health and Environment from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Rep. Cole Wist and Sen. John Cooke. The bill relocates Article 29.3 of title 12 to part 6 of article 1.5 of title 25 and Article 30 of title 12 to article 48 of title 25.
  • HB 17-1243“Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of the Laws Related to Wholesale Sales Representatives from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Rep. Yeulin Willett and Sen. Lucia Guzman. The bill relocates article 66 of title 12, which relates to wholesale sales representatives, to title 13.
  • HB 17-1244: “Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of the Laws Related to Cemeteries from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Rep. Leslie Herod and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill relocates article 12 of title 12, which relates to cemeteries, to title 6.
  • HB 17-1245“Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of the Laws Related to Public Establishments from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Rep. Mike Foote and Sen. Daniel Kagan. The bill relocates parts 1 and 3 of article 44 of title 12, which relate to public establishments, to title 6.
  • HB 17-1251“Concerning the Scheduled Repeal of Reports by Higher Education Agencies to the General Assembly,” by Rep. Dan Nordberg and Sen. Dominick Moreno. The bill addresses the reporting requirements of higher education agencies.
  • HB 17-1255: “Concerning the Scheduled Repeal of a Report by the Board of Veterans Affairs to the General Assembly,” by Rep. Dan Nordberg and Sen. Andy Kerr. The bill continues indefinitely a reporting requirement of the board of veterans affairs.
  • HB 17-1257: “Concerning the Scheduled Repeal of Reports by the Department of Natural Resources to the General Assembly,” by Rep. Jeni Arndt and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill continues indefinitely reporting requirements of the Department of Natural Resources that were scheduled to repeal according to section 24-1-136(11)(a)(I).
  • HB 17-1265“Concerning an Increase in the Total Employer Contribution for Employers in the Judicial Division of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association,” by Reps. KC Becker & Dan Nordberg and Sens. Andy Kerr & Kevin Priola. For the calendar year beginning in 2019, for the judicial division only, the bill increases the AED to 3.40% of total payroll and requires the AED payment to increase by 0.4% of total payroll at the start of each of the following 4 calendar years through 2023.
  • HB 17-1267“Concerning the Scheduled Repeal of Reports by Educational Agencies to the General Assembly,” by Rep. Jeni Arndt and Sen. Dominick Moreno. The bill addresses the reporting requirements of educational agencies.
  • HB 17-1295“Concerning the Repeal of the Governor’s Office of Marijuana Coordination,” by Rep. Bob Rankin and Sen. Dominick Moreno. The bill repeals the office of marijuana coordination, effective July 1, 2017.
  • HB 17-1298: “Concerning the Date by Which the State Personnel Director is Required to Submit the Annual Compensation Report,” by Rep. Millie Hamner and Sen. Kevin Lundberg. The bill changes the deadline for submission of the state personnel director’s annual report to September 15 of each year beginning with the 2017 report.
  • HB 17-1346“Concerning the Sale of More Than Fifteen Acres of Land at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for the Expansion of Fort Logan National Cemetery,” by Rep. Susan Lontine and Sen. Owen Hill. The bill grants the Department of Human Services authority to execute a land sale, at fair market value, to sell 51 additional acres, or up to 66 acres. The bill specifies that the proceeds of the sale of the additional 51 acres to the United States department of veterans affairs must be credited to the Fort Logan land sale account in the capital construction fund.
  • SB 17-222“Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of the Laws Related to Fireworks from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Sen. John Cooke and Rep. Yeulin Willett. The bill relocates article 28 of title 12, which relates to fireworks, to a new part 20 of article 33.5 of title 24, which title pertains to the department of public safety.
  • SB 17-225“Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of Laws Related to Farm Products from Title 12 of the Colorado Revised Statutes as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Sen. John Cooke and Rep. Yeulin Willett. The bill relocates part 2 of article 16 of title 12, the ‘Commodity Handler Act’, to article 36 of title 35; and part 1 of article 16 of title 12, the ‘Farm Products Act’, to article 37 of title 35.
  • SB 17-228“Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of the Laws Related to Licenses Granted by Local Governments from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Sen. Bob Gardner and Rep. Cole Wist. The bill relocates article 18 of title 12, which relates to dance halls, to title 30, which pertains to counties; article 25.5 of title 12, which relates to escort services, to title 29, which relates to local governments; and relocates article 56 of title 12, which relates to pawnbrokers, to title 29.
  • SB 17-242“Concerning Modernizing Terminology in the Colorado Revised Statutes Related to Behavioral Health,” by Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik and Reps. Kim Ransom & Joann Ginal. The bill updates and modernizes terminology in the Colorado Revised Statutes related to behavioral health, mental health, alcohol abuse, and substance abuse.
  • SB 17-243“Concerning the Continuation under the Sunset Law of the Motorcycle Operator Safety Training Program by the Director of the Office of Transportation Safety in the Department of Transportation, and, in Connection Therewith, Transferring the Operation of the Program to the Chief of the State Patrol Beginning in 2018,” by Sens. Nancy Todd & Randy Baumgardner and Rep. Dominique Jackson. The bill continues the motorcycle operator safety training program for 3 years, until 2020.
  • SB 17-279“Concerning Clarification of the Applicability Provisions of Recent Legislation to Promote an Equitable Financial Contribution Among Affected Public Bodies in Connection with Urban Redevelopment Projects Allocating Tax Revenues,” by Sens. Beth Martinez Humenik & Rachel Zenzinger and Reps. Matt Gray & Susan Beckman. The bill clarifies the applicability provisions of legislation enacted in 2015 and 2016 to promote an equitable financial contribution among affected public bodies in connection with urban redevelopment projects allocating tax revenues.
  • SB 17-291“Concerning Continuation of the School Safety Resource Center Advisory Board,” by Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik and Rep. Jeff Bridges. The bill implements the recommendations of the sunset review and report on the school safety resource center advisory board by eliminating the repeal date of the board and extending the board through September 1, 2022.
  • SB 17-293“Concerning Updating the Reference to a National Standard Setting Forth Certain Specifications Applicable to the Type of Paper Used to Publish the Colorado Revised Statutes,” by Sen. Daniel Kagan and Rep. Pete Lee. The bill updates the statutory reference to the current applicable alkaline minimum reserve requirements and acidity levels for uncoated paper as established by the American national standards institute and the national information standards organization.
  • SB 17-294“Concerning the Nonsubstantive Revision of Statutes in the Colorado Revised Statutes, as Amended, and, in Connection Therewith, Amending or Repealing Obsolete, Imperfect, and Inoperative Law to Preserve the Legislative Intent, Effect, and Meaning of the Law,” by Sen. Bob Gardner and Rep. Pete Lee. The bill amends, repeals, and reconstructs various statutory provisions of law that are obsolete, imperfect, or inoperative. The specific reasons for each amendment or repeal are set forth in the appendix to the bill.
  • SB 17-304“Concerning the Authority of the Joint Technology Committee,” by Sens. Angela Williams & Beth Martinez Humenik and Reps. Dan Thurlow & Jonathan Singer. The bill adds definitions of ‘cybersecurity’ and ‘data privacy’ for the purposes of the joint technology committee. In addition, the bill modifies the definition of ‘oversee’ for the purposes of the committee to be consistent with other statutory provisions.

Friday, May 26, 2017

  • SB 17-254“Concerning the Provision for Payment of the Expenses of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Departments of the State of Colorado, and of its Agencies and Institutions, For and During the Fiscal Year Beginning July 1, 2017, Except as Otherwise Noted,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill provides for the payment of expenses of the executive, legislative, and judicial departments of the state of Colorado, and of its agencies and institutions, for and during the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017, except as otherwise noted.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

  • SB 17-267“Concerning the Sustainability of Rural Colorado,” by Sens. Lucia Guzman & Jerry Sonnenberg and Reps. KC Becker & Jon Becker. The bill creates a new Colorado healthcare affordability and sustainability enterprise (CHASE) within the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF), effective July 1, 2017, to charge and collect a healthcare affordability and sustainability fee that functions similarly to the repealed hospital provider fee. Because CHASE is an enterprise for purposes of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), its revenue does not count against the state fiscal year spending limit.

For a list of the governor’s 2017 legislative actions, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Condominium Association Failed to Satisfy Statutory Requirements to Amend Declaration

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Tyra Summit Condominiums II Association, Inc. v. Clancy on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act—Amendment of Declaration—Notice Requirement.

The Clancys (owners) own a condominium unit at the Tyra Summit Condominiums II (Tyra II). Tyra II is administered by the Tyra Summit Condominiums II Association, Inc.. The Association is run by a Board of Managers. The Association was established by a declaration recorded in 1983 and subsequent amendments. In 2016, the Association sought judicial approval of its attempt to amend the Declaration, which effectively rewrote the 1983 Declaration.

The owners objected to the amendment, arguing that the Association failed to meet certain statutory requirements and that the amendment improperly changed their allocated interests. The district court approved the amendment.

On appeal, the owners asserted that the district court erred in approving the amendment because the Association failed to provide sufficient notice of the meeting at which the amendment was discussed. The Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act requires associations to discuss proposed amendments during at least one meeting of the association and contains specific notice requirements. The court of appeals found that the record did not support the court’s finding that adequate notice of the meeting where the proposed amendment was discussed was given to the owners.

As the prevailing party on appeal, the owners were entitled to their attorney fees pursuant to the Act.

The order was reversed and the case was remanded.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Ethics in the Electronic Age: Social Media Guidance for Attorneys

Do you have a LinkedIn account? How about a Facebook page? Twitter handle? Instagram? Blog? All of the above?

Have you ever considered the Rules of Professional Conduct when commenting on someone else’s Facebook post, or sharing a clever tweet, or even writing on your personal blog? If not, then you should.

Most lawyers are probably aware that there could be ethical implications to their professional use of social media, but personal use can also implicate the Rules. Learn more from Katrin Miller Rothgery of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck in the video, below.

Ms. Rothgery’s presentation on Ethics in the Electronic Age was just one part of the 2017 Real Estate Spring Update. Purchase the full homestudy here, or call (303) 860-0608. CLE Pass Holders can access the MP3 and Video OnDemand homestudies for free. Find out more about the CLE Pass here.

Bills Closing Torrens Title, Allowing Electronic Preservation of Plats by Clerk & Recorder, Adopting Revised Uniform Notorial Acts Law, and More Signed

Although the legislative session is over, the governor continues to sign bills. This week, he signed one bill on Monday, May 15; four bills on Wednesday, May 17; and 13 bills on Thursday, May 18. To date, he has signed 231 bills and vetoed one bill this legislative session. The bills signed this week are summarized here.

Monday, May 15

  • HB 17-1204“Concerning Juvenile Delinquency Record Expungement, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Pete Lee and Sen. John Cooke. The bill restricts access to juvenile delinquency records by making certain records public only after a court orders that a child be charged as an adult, consistent with recent changes to the direct file statute, and by eliminating the requirement that the prosecuting attorney notify the school principal of minor offenses.

Wednesday, May 17

  • HB 17-1248“Concerning the Funding of Colorado Water Conservation Board Projects, and, in Connection Therewith, Making Appropriations,” by Rep. Jeni Arndt and Sens. John Cooke & Jerry Sonnenberg. The bill makes certain appropriations from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) construction fund to the CWCB or the Division of Water Resources.
  • HB 17-1301“Concerning Protecting Colorado Citizens who are Engaged in an Act that is Protected by the Colorado Constitution from Outside Agencies,” by Rep. Steve Lebsock and Sen. Tim Neville. The bill prohibits a state agency from aiding or assisting a federal agency or agency of another state in arresting a Colorado citizen for committing an act that is a Colorado constitutional right; or violating a Colorado citizen’s Colorado constitutional right.
  • SB 17-129“Concerning the Electronic Preservation of a Plat Recorded by a County Clerk and Recorder,” by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and Reps. Jon Becker & Jeni Arndt. The bill permits a county clerk and recorder to preserve an original plat in an electronic format. If an electronic filing system is established, then the board of county commissioners is authorized to provide additional funding and space suitable for a county surveyor or any other appropriate local government official to store original mylar, paper, or polyester sheets of subdivision plats and land survey plats.
  • SB 17-140“Concerning the Torrens Title Registration System,” by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and Reps. Jon Becker & Jeni Arndt. The bill closes the Torrens title registration system to new applications to register land title in this state, effective January 1, 2018.

Thursday, May 18

  • HB 17-1162“Concerning Action that can be Taken Against an Individual Based on the Individual’s Failure to Pay for a Traffic Violation, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Matt Gray and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill decreases the penalty for driving under restraint to a class A traffic infraction if the basis of the restraint is an outstanding judgment.
  • HB 17-1201“Concerning Authorization for Granting a High School Diploma Endorsement in the Combined Disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics,” by Rep. James Coleman and Sens. Kevin Priola & Rachel Zenzinger. The bill authorizes a school district, board of cooperative services, district charter high school, or institute charter high school to grant a high school diploma endorsement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to students who demonstrate mastery in STEM. To obtain the endorsement, a student must complete the high school graduation requirements at a high level of proficiency, successfully complete 4 STEM courses selected by the local education provider in addition to the high school graduation requirements in these subjects, achieve a minimum score specified in the bill on one of several specified mathematics assessments, and successfully complete a final capstone project.
  • HB 17-1211“Concerning Professional Development for Educators Regarding Disciplinary Strategies for Young Students,” by Rep. James Coleman and Sen. Kevin Priola. The bill creates the discipline strategies pilot program to provide money to school districts, boards of cooperative services, and charter schools for professional development for educators in the use of culturally responsive methods of student discipline for students enrolled in preschool through third grade and developmentally appropriate responses to the behavioral issues of students enrolled in preschool through third grade.
  • HB 17-1214“Concerning Efforts to Encourage Employee Ownership of the State’s Existing Small Businesses,” by Rep. James Coleman and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill requires the Colorado Office of Economic Development to engage the services of a local nonprofit organization that supports and promotes the employee-owned business model to educate the staff at the office on the forms and merits of employee ownership in order for the office to promote employee ownership as part of its small business assistance center.
  • HB 17-1227“Concerning an Extension of Demand-Side Management Goals for Investor-Owned Utilities as Set by the Public Utilities Commission,” by Reps. Faith Winter & Polly Lawrence and Sens. Stephen Fenberg & Kevin Priola. The bill extends programs establishing electricity goals for investor-owned utilities until 2028.
  • HB 17-1246“Concerning Implementation of the STEMI Task Force Recommendations Relating to Reporting Confirmed Heart Attack Incidents in the State,” by Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp and Sens. Leroy Garcia & Jack Tate. The bill implements recommendations of the STEMI task force regarding hospital reporting of heart attacks.
  • HB 17-1266“Concerning Allowing Persons who were Convicted of Misdemeanors for Marijuana-Related Behaviors that are No Longer Illegal to Petition for the Sealing of Criminal Records Relating to Such Convictions,” by Reps. Edie Hooten & Jovan Melton and Sens. Vicki Marble & Stephen Fenberg. The bill allows persons who were convicted of misdemeanors for the use or possession of marijuana to petition for the sealing of criminal records relating to such convictions if their behavior would not have been a criminal offense if the behavior had occurred on or after December 10, 2012.
  • HB 17-1354“Concerning the Collection of Delinquent Taxes on Certain Mobile Homes,” by Rep. KC Becker and Sens. Kevin Priola & John Kefalas. The bill makes the process to enforce the collection of delinquent taxes on mobile or manufactured homes that are not affixed to the ground permissive, and therefore gives the county treasurer more flexibility to enter into partial payment agreements with the owners of such mobile or manufactured homes. The bill authorizes the county treasurer to declare tax liens on mobile or manufactured homes that are not affixed to the ground as county-held to address title deficiencies in conjunction with the collection of taxes.
  • SB 17-132“Concerning Enactment of the ‘Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts’ as Amended,” by Sen. Bob Gardner and Reps. Jovan Melton & Cole Wist. The bill enacts the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts, and creates a working group to study and make recommendations by December 1, 2017, regarding electronic remote notarization. The Secretary of State must promulgate rules regarding electronic remote notarization, after which notaries may perform a notarial act by electronic remote notarization in compliance with the rules.
  • SB 17-193“Concerning the Establishment of the ‘Center for Research into Substance Use Disorder Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Support Strategies’ at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Kevin Lundberg & Cheri Jahn and Reps. Bob Rankin & Brittany Pettersen. The bill establishes the Center for Research into Substance Use Disorder Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Support Strategies at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
  • SB 17-207“Concerning Strengthening Colorado’s Statewide Response to Behavioral Health Crises, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. John Cooke & Daniel Kagan and Reps. Lang Sias & Joseph Salazar. The bill clarifies the intent of the General Assembly for establishing a coordinated behavioral health crisis response system. The crisis system is intended to be a comprehensive, appropriate, and preferred response to behavioral health crises in Colorado. By clarifying the role of the crisis system and making necessary enhancements, the bill puts systems in place to help Colorado end the use of jails and correctional facilities as placement options for individuals placed on emergency mental health holds if they have not also been charged with a crime and enhances the ability of emergency departments to serve individuals who are experiencing a behavioral health crisis.
  • SB 17-297“Concerning Revising Higher Education Performance Requirements,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill repeals a performance-based funding plan for institutions of higher education that was included in the master plan for Colorado postsecondary education. The performance-based funding plan was not implemented.
  • SB 17-305“Concerning Modifications to Select Statutory Provisions Affecting Primary Elections Enacted by Voters at the 2016 Statewide General Election to Facilitate the Effective Implementation of the State’s Election Laws, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Stephen Fenberg & Kevin Lundberg and Reps. Patrick Neville & Mike Foote. At the 2016 general election, the voters of the state approved 2 initiated measures affecting primary elections: Proposition 107, which restored a presidential primary election, and Proposition 108, which allows participation by unaffiliated voters in primary elections. The bill makes several modifications to some of the statutory provisions that were affected by Propositions 107 and 108 for the purpose of facilitating the effective implementation of the state’s election laws.

For a complete list of the governor’s 2017 legislative actions, click here.

Why Good Lawyers Do Bad Things – Think It Can’t Happen to You?

High-Profile Lawyer Charged with Punching Client in Court,” Above the Law, October 30, 2015.

Storied Plaintiffs Lawyer Disbarred in Kentucky Over Excessive Fees,” National Law Journal, March 21, 2013.

Lawyer Charged with Forging Signatures of 7 Judges on Over 100 Court Documents,” Above the Law, February 24, 2016.

Biglaw Partner and Associate Destroyed Evidence, Suborned Perjury,” Above the Law, June 24, 2015

Headlines like these grab our attention, but they don’t give us much cause for concern. After all, we would NEVER do anything like that. But what about these?

“[Lawyer] agreed to represent a client in his immigration and criminal matters. On [Lawyer]’s advice, his client pleaded guilty to felony sexual assault. The client later regretted his decision to plead guilty, hired other counsel, successfully withdrew his plea, went to trial, and was acquitted.” People v. Romero, 16PDJ057, December 9, 2016.

“[Lawyer] was convicted five times of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while ability impaired (DWAI). His most recent conviction took place in 2011. Through this conduct, [Lawyer] violated Colo. RPC 8.4(b) (a lawyer shall not commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects).” People v. Condon, 16PDJ050, December 23, 2016.

“In October 2015, [Lawyer] sought a $1,000.00 loan from a client to address cash flow problems. The client agreed, so [Lawyer] executed a promissory note in favor of the client, providing for 8% per annum interest and providing that the principal and interest would be due one month hence, in November 2015. The terms of the loan were fair and reasonable. But [Lawyer] did not advise the client in writing of the desirability of seeking independent legal counsel as to the transaction. Nor did he obtain the client’s written, informed consent to [Lawyer]’s role in the transaction, including whether [Lawyer] was representing the client in the transaction. [Lawyer] failed to pay the client by the agreed-upon date, though [Lawyer] did fully repay the client in March 2016. At that time, the client had not yet reported [Lawyer] to disciplinary authorities.” People v. Foster, 17PDJ018, March 15, 2017.

Do these still sound too far-fetched to you? How about these ones?

“Lawyer accepts $5,000 ‘flat fee,’ expecting a complex dispute, but skillfully resolves the matter in one hour. He then keeps the entire fee.”

“While [Lawyer] served as county attorney, he worked on legal issues involving third parties’ management of dirt track racing at El Paso County’s fairgrounds. He was involved with drafting a memorandum of understanding between the County and one of those third parties to address issues that exposed the County to liability. After [Lawyer] left the employ of El Paso County, the County faced ongoing legal issues with that same third party. In 2013, [Lawyer] began representing that party against El Paso County.”

“[Lawyer] is subject to several orders entered in Arapahoe County requiring him to pay child support, various child-related expenses, and child support arrearages. [Lawyer] paid just over half of the child support obligations he owed between June 2015 and November 2016. [Lawyer]’s failure to satisfy these obligations violated Colo. RPC 3.4(c) (a lawyer shall not knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal) and Colo. RPC 8.4(d) (a lawyer shall not engage in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).”

“[Lawyer] failed to obey a court order to pay monthly child support and to satisfy child support arrearages. Her failure to honor her court-mandated obligations tarnished the integrity of the legal system and harmed her child. Her conduct violated Colo. RPC 3.4(c) (a lawyer shall not knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal) and Colo. RPC 8.4(d) (a lawyer shall not engage in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).”

“[Lawyer] was retained by a client in March 2016 in a paternity case. Because he failed to pay registration fees, [Lawyer] was placed on administrative suspension on May 2, 2016. While suspended, [Lawyer] participated in a telephone conference with the court and set a status conference for June 2016.”

“[Lawyer], a bankruptcy attorney, was retained by a lawyer who had been disbarred for knowing conversion. The lawyer’s disbarment order required him to pay restitution to several former clients, as well as more than $220,000 to a medical lienholder. On the client’s behalf, [Lawyer] filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. He did so to stall a foreclosure sale on the client’s house in the hopes of protecting from creditors up to $105,000 in equity under the homestead exemption, and to avoid entangling the client’s second property in Crested Butte in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The petition showed that the client’s debt was over 99% of the allowable limit for Chapter 13 cases. The petition did not, however, list the $220,000 debt to the lienholder; instead, it characterized the amount of the debt as “unknown,” “unliquidated,” and “disputed.” Had that debt to the lienholder been included in the client’s total debt, the amount would have exceeded the Chapter 13 debt limit.”

Are you starting to feel uncomfortable? These situations and others are published monthly in The Colorado Lawyer. Although many of the disciplinary situations are too egregious to relate to, others could happen to anyone – even good lawyers like you.

If you ask any random group of people to rank how ethical they are on a scale of one to one hundred, responses will average about 75, meaning almost everyone is misjudging how they would react to actual ethical dilemmas. Studies regularly show a gap between an ethical goal (how ethical we aspire to be) and ethical judgment (what we actually do). This has been called “bounded ethicality,” and it examines why individuals fail to recognize that external influence and self-interest impact their ethical thinking.

Ethical decisions can be hard for anyone, but the stakes are higher for lawyers because the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct dictate lawyers’ ethical responsibility. The preamble to the Rules states, “Virtually all difficult ethical problems arise from conflict between a lawyer’s responsibilities to clients, to the legal system, and to the lawyer’s own interest in remaining an ethical person while earning a satisfactory living. . . . The Rules do not . . . exhaust the moral and ethical considerations that should inform a lawyer, for no worthwhile human activity can be completely defined by legal rules.” There are plenty of shades of grey in determining the ethical path, in other words.

On May 15, 2017, Christopher P. Montville of Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell will present a one hour lunch program, “Why Good Lawyers Do Bad Things (And What to Do About it).” This can’t-miss program will explore the reasons why good people sometimes make bad choices, and how to avoid becoming a disciplinary summary in The Colorado Lawyer. Register today by calling (303) 860-0608 or clicking the links below.

 

CLELogo

CLE Program: Why Good Lawyers Do Bad Things

This CLE presentation will occur on May 15, 2017, at the CLE Large Classroom (1900 Grant St., 3rd Floor) from noon to 1 p.m. Register for the live program here and the webcast here. You may also call (303) 860-0608 to register.

Can’t make the live program? Order the homestudy here — Video OnDemandMP3 Audio

Colorado Supreme Court: Exculpatory Clauses Did Not Exculpate Property Owners Association

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in McShane v. Stirling Ranch Property Owners Association on Monday, May 1, 2017.

Exemption from Liability—Exculpatory Contracts— Corporation as Distinct Entity—Corporate Actions through Agents—Vicarious Liability.

The Colorado Supreme Court addressed whether a homeowners association may benefit from exculpatory clauses in the community’s declaration and bylaws when those clauses do not name the association as a protected party. Because the plain language of the exculpatory clauses at issue in this case does not limit the association’s liability, and the association, as an entity distinct from internal boards acting as its agents, cannot benefit from exculpatory clauses protecting those agents, the court concluded that petitioners may bring their claims against the association. Accordingly, the court of appeals’ decision was reversed and the case was remanded.

Summary provided courtesy ofThe Colorado Lawyer .

Bills Delaying Accrual of Property Tax Abatement Refund Interest, Encouraging Mental Health Treatment for Peace Officers, and More Signed

On Monday, April 24, 2017, the governor signed eight bills into law. To date, the governor has signed 166 bills this legislative session. Some of the bills signed Monday include a bill delaying the accrual date of the property tax abatement refund interest, a bill expanding consumer options in fingerprint-based background checks, and a bill allowing campus liquor licenses for on-campus consumption of alcoholic beverages. The bills signed Monday are summarized here.

  • HB 17-1049“Concerning the Elimination of Refund Interest Related to a Property Tax Abatement,” by Reps. Dan Thurlow & Matt Gray and Sen. Don Coram. If property taxes are levied erroneously or illegally and a taxpayer has not protested the valuation within the time permitted by law, then the taxpayer has 2 years from the start of the property tax year to file a petition for abatement or refund with interest. The bill delays the start of the refund interest so that it accrues from the date a complete abatement petition is filed, with the exception of an abatement or refund for taxes paid as a result of omitted property being added to the assessment roll.
  • HB 17-1115“Concerning the Establishment of Direct Primary Health Care Agreements to Operate without Regulation by the Division of Insurance,” by Reps. Perry Buck & Joann Ginal and Sens. Jack Tate & John Kefalas. The bill establishes parameters under which a direct primary care agreement may be implemented. An agreement may be entered into between a direct primary health care provider and a patient for the payment of a periodic fee and for a specified period of time. The provider must be a licensed, registered, or certified individual or entity authorized to provide primary care services.
  • HB 17-1120“Concerning the Designation of a Campus Liquor Complex on the Campus of an Institution of Higher Education that is Licensed to Serve Alcohol Beverages for Consumption on the Licensed Premises to Allow the Institution to Obtain Permits to Serve Alcohol Beverages at Other Facilities Within its Campus Liquor Complex, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Yeulin Willett and Sen. Don Coram. The bill allows a higher education institution that has a license to serve alcohol beverages for on-premises consumption to apply for designation as a campus liquor complex, thereby allowing the institution to designate multiple facilities on the campus as locations for serving alcohol beverages.
  • HB 17-1184“Concerning Developing Additional Resources for Modern Technology Education in Public Schools,” by Rep. Crisanta Duran and Sen. Kevin Grantham. The bill directs the State Board of Education, in the course of revising the academic standards, to incorporate into the standards for each subject skills relating to the use of information and communications technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information.
  • HB 17-1215“Concerning Mental Health Support for Peace Officers,” by Rep. James Coleman and Sens. Daniel Kagan & Bob Gardner. The bill encourages each sheriff’s office and each municipal police department to adopt a policy whereby mental health professionals, to the extent practicable, provide on-scene response services to support officers’ handling of persons with mental health disorders, and counseling services to officers.
  • SB 17-108“Concerning Continuation of the Regulation of Speech-Language Pathologists by the Director of the Division of Professions and Occupations, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Recommendations of the 2016 Sunset Report of the Department of Regulatory Agencies,” by Sen. Larry Crowder and Rep. Janet Buckner. The bill extends the automatic termination date of the “Speech-language Pathology Practice Act” to September 1, 2022.
  • SB 17-189“Concerning Elimination of the Requirement that a Law Enforcement Agency is the Only Entity Authorized to Take Fingerprints for Purposes of a Background Check,” by Sen. John Cooke and Rep. Mike Foote. The bill removes the statutory requirement that a law enforcement agency is the only authorized entity able to take fingerprints for background checks. If an approved third party takes the person’s fingerprints, the fingerprints may be electronically captured using Colorado bureau of investigation-approved or federal bureau of investigation-approved livescan equipment.
  • SB 17-190“Concerning Prohibiting a Carrier from Setting Fees for a Dental Service that is Not Paid For by the Carrier,” by Sens. Dominick Moreno & Larry Crowder and Rep. Matt Gray. The bill prohibits a contract between a carrier and a dentist from requiring a dentist to provide services to a covered person at a fee set by, or subject to the approval of, the carrier unless the services are covered services under the person’s policy and the carrier provides payment for the service under the person’s policy in an amount that is reasonable and not nominal or de minimis.

For a complete list of the governor’s 2017 legislative decisions, click here.

Colorado Supreme Court: Privity of Contract Must Exist for Breach of Warranty of Suitability Claim

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Forest City Stapleton, Inc. v. Rogers on Monday, April 17, 2017.

Implied Warranty of Suitability—Privity of Contract—Implied Warranties.

The Colorado Supreme Court considered whether privity of contract is necessary for a home buyer to assert a claim for breach of the implied warranty of suitability against a developer. The court concluded that because breach of the implied warranty of suitability is a contract claim, privity of contract is required in such a case. Here, the home buyer was not in privity of contract with the developer and thus cannot pursue a claim against the developer for breach of the implied warranty of suitability. Accordingly, the court of appeals’ judgment was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Neighbors’ Due Process Rights Not Violated During Rezoning Hearing

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Whitelaw v. Denver City Council on Thursday, April 6, 2017.

C.R.C.P. 106(a)(4) —Rezoning Decision—Due Process—Spot Zoning.

Plaintiffs Whitelaw, III and various neighbors sought judicial review of the rezoning decision of defendant Denver City Council. Cedar Metropolitan LLC applied to rezone a 2.3-acre parcel. To build an “age-targeted” apartment complex on the site, Cedar sought to tear down a blighted church and rezone the parcel from single family home to a zone district that allowed three-story apartment buildings. The neighbors are property owners who live in the neighborhood near the parcel. They challenged the rezoning efforts, asserting it would hurt their property values, create traffic and parking problems, cause hazards to pedestrians, and degrade the character of the surrounding neighborhood. Following an eight-hour hearing, the Council granted the request to change the zoning.

The neighbors challenged the rezoning in district court under C.R.C.P. 106(a)(4). The district court rejected all of their claims. On appeal, the neighbors asserted various claims, principally violation of their right to due process. They made five due process arguments. The court of appeals will affirm a rezoning decision unless the governmental entity exceeded its jurisdiction or abused its discretion, which occurs if the body misapplied the law or no competent evidence supports its decision.

The neighbors first argued that a lobbyist for Cedar communicated before the hearing with Council member Susman, in whose district the parcel lies, through her private email account and by phone. They alleged that the failure to disclose these communications to the public before the hearing deprived them of their due process rights because they did not have notice and an opportunity to rebut the information on which the Council may have impermissibly relied in making its determination. Despite evidence of approximately 50 pages of such emails, the neighbors pointed to no evidence that they had a “substantial prejudicial impact” on the outcome of the proceedings. In fact, Susman voted against the rezoning. The neighbors did not overcome the presumption that the Council members acted with integrity, honesty, and impartiality, and they showed no prejudice from the communications.

Second, the neighbors asserted their due process rights were violated due to the involvement of Cedar’s architect, who was also a member of the City’s Planning Board, in the application process. The Planning Board recommended that the Council approve the rezoning. The architect submitted the application to the Board, but did not attend the Planning Board meeting or vote on the rezoning and thus complied with the Denver Municipal Code. Further, the Planning Board’s recommendation is not appealable because it is not a “final decision” reviewable under C.R.C.P. 106(a)(4). Therefore, the court of appeals did not review this claim.

Third, the neighbors argued that their due process rights were violated because certain Council members’ comments at the public hearing reflected “flawed quasi-judicial decision making” and showed they “relied on irrelevant factors and information outside of the hearing record” in making their decision. The neighbors failed to demonstrate a lack of competent evidence supporting the Council’s decision or that any individual member relied on factual information outside the hearing record or ignored the record in casting their vote. There was competent evidence in the record to support the Council’s decision.

Fourth, the neighbors argued their due process rights were violated because the Council stepped outside of its neutral, quasi-judicial role and supported Cedar by improperly applying the protest petition procedure of the Denver City Charter. The protest procedure provides that if opponents gather signatures from property owners representing 20% or more of the land area within 200 feet of the perimeter of a proposed rezoning, the rezoning must pass the Council by a super-majority (10 members). Opponents gathered 17% of the perimeter zone signatures and the rezoning passed 8 to 4. The neighbors argued that the City improperly applied the protest procedure by including City-owned park land but not allowing a procedure for residents to obtain petition signatures from the City. The court disagreed, finding that the City’s calculation of the 200-foot protest petition area was in accordance with the Denver Charter.

Fifth, the neighbors alleged a due process violation because some Council members received “substantial” political contributions from lobbyists and were therefore biased in the rezoning vote. Evidence of this was not in the record before the Council and therefore was not reviewable by the court.

The neighbors also argued that the rezoning decision must be vacated because, as a matter of law, it did not comply with the City’s zoning ordinance, alleging it was not consistent with the City’s adopted plans; no specific circumstances justified the rezoning; and the rezoning fails to further the public health, safety, and general welfare. The record shows that the Council members engaged in lengthy discussions about the criteria and evidence, including testimony presented by both proponents and opponents at the hearing. The Council did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the proposed zoning was consistent with the City’s adopted plans; the rezoning resulted in uniformity of district regulations and restrictions; the rezoning furthered the public health, safety, and general welfare; circumstances justified the rezoning; and the rezoning was consistent with the description of the applicable neighborhood context and the stated purpose and intent of the proposed Zone District.

Finally, the neighbors argued that the rezoning was impermissible spot zoning because it did not further Denver’s comprehensive plans and was therefore an abuse of discretion. The court disagreed. Here, the rezoning was not out of character with the adjacent area and furthered the City’s adopted plans.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.