March 26, 2019

Archives for March 5, 2015

Adoption, Domestic Relations Forms Amended in February

In February 2015, the Colorado State Judicial Branch released three amended forms. These forms are the first forms amended in 2015 to date. Forms are available for download here in PDF format and are also available as Word documents on the State Judicial website.

ADOPTION

  • JDF 494 – “Instructions for Access to Adoption Records” (revised 2/15)
  • JDF 532 – “Request for Access to Adoption Records” (revised 2/15)

DOMESTIC RELATIONS

  • JDF 1700 – “Instructions to File for Grandparent or Great-Grandparent Visitation” (revised 2/15)

For all of State Judicial’s JDF forms, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Reformation of Conservation Deed Appropriate to Correct Mutual Mistake

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Ranch O, LLC v. Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust on Thursday, February 26, 2015.

Conservation Easement—Summary Judgment—Reformation of Deed Based on Mutual Mistake.

Craig Walker was the sole manager and 99% membership owner of Walker I-Granby, LLC (LLC). Walker owned certain property that he conveyed to the LLC. Walker and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (Land Trust) then signed a deed of conservation easement (Conservation Deed) that purported to give the Land Trust a conservation easement on the subject property. The Conservation Deed named Walker as the grantor, but Walker had previously conveyed the subject property to his LLC. The LLC should have been the grantor. Neither Walker nor the Land Trust was aware of this error.

Walker, on the LLC’s behalf, then entered into discussions with Ranch O, LLC’s principal about selling the subject property to Ranch O. Walker informed Ranch O of the Land Trust’s conservation easement.

Ranch O bought the subject property from the LLC. The deed conveying the property noted that the subject property was encumbered by a conservation easement held by the Land Trust and noted the recording information for the Conservation Deed.

Ranch O requested a declaratory judgment that the Conservation Deed was invalid and had no force and effect because Walker had no ownership interest in the subject property at the time the Conservation Deed was signed and recorded. The Land Trust answered, seeking a declaratory judgment that the Conservation Deed was valid and enforceable despite the scrivener’s error and reformation of the Conservation Deed to correct any error regarding the identity of the grantor. The Land Trust claimed any error was the result of mutual mistake. The district court granted the Land Trust’s motion for summary judgment and denied Ranch O’s request.

On appeal, Ranch O argued that the undisputed facts precluded the district court from reforming the Conservation Deed based on a mutual mistake of fact. The Court of Appeals disagreed. It found that the evidence clearly and unequivocally showed that reformation was appropriate because both parties to the Conservation Deed mistakenly believed that it correctly identified the grantor and that the grantor had the authority to convey the conservation easement. The mutual mistake justified reforming the Conservation Deed.

Ranch O also argued that reformation violated the policies and purposes behind Colorado’s race-notice statute. The Court disagreed, noting that Ranch O had actual notice of the Conservation Deed before it purchased the subject property. It was also advised of the Conservation Deed in the LLC’s deed to Ranch O. Ranch O, given its actual knowledge of the Conservation Deed, cannot simply ignore it and then seek to defeat its reformation in this action. Reformation is an equitable remedy and equity demands that the Conservation Deed be reformed. The judgment was affirmed.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Claims Against Developers Could Lie in Tort; CGIA May Apply

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in First National Bank of Durango v. Lyons on Thursday, February 26, 2015.

Securities Fraud—Subject Matter Jurisdiction—Colorado Securities Act Claims Lie in Tort—Scope of “Public Employment.”

Defendants William S. Lyons, Jr., William S. Lyons III, and others comprised the Board of Directors of Lincoln Creek Metropolitan District (District). The District is a special district formed to provide public facilities to Lincoln Creek Village. Defendants’ company, LCV, LLC, owned almost all of the property in the District and was the developer of Lincoln Creek Village.

In March 2006, plaintiffs (collectively, Banks) purchased $4.13 million of General Obligation Tax Bonds issued by the District to partially fund construction of Lincoln Creek Village. In July 2008, the bank that held the deed of trust securing the development loan foreclosed on the encumbered Lincoln Creek Village property. The Banks then filed this action against defendants, LCV, and the bond underwriter.

The Banks alleged that defendants misrepresented and omitted material facts in connection with the offer and sale of the bonds, in violation of CRS § 11-51-501(1) of the Colorado Securities Act (CSA). Defendants asserted the defense of governmental immunity and filed a CRCP 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that the Banks had failed to provide notice of the claims to the District, a jurisdictional prerequisite under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA). The district court denied the motion to dismiss, concluding that the CSA claims do not sound in tort and therefore the CGIA is inapplicable.

On interlocutory appeal, defendants argued that the Banks’ CSA claims lie in tort or could lie in tort. The Court of Appeals noted that defendants are public employees for purposes of the CGIA and that the CGIA requires that written notice of claims against a public employee must first be provided within the statutory period to the public entity where the employee is employed. Failure to comply with the notice requirement forever bars the action against the employee. It was undisputed that the Banks did not provide notice to the District of their claims against defendants. The question then became whether the claims against defendants lie in tort or could lie in tort.

The Court found that the complaint demonstrated that the injury underlying the Banks’ CSA claims was tortious in nature. Essentially, the Banks alleged that they relied on a misrepresentation of material fact by defendants. This is injury arising out of tortious conduct.

The Banks also argued that the misrepresentations were made by defendants in their capacity as private developers and not within the scope of any “public employment” with the District; therefore, the CGIA notice requirement does not apply. Defendants countered that this issue was not decided by the district court. The Court agreed with defendants and remanded the case to the district court to decide whether the claims against them are based on acts or omissions that occurred within the scope of their public employment. If it finds the misrepresentations alleged were made by defendants within the scope of their employment with the District, then it must dismiss the Banks’ claims. However, if the claims were premised on misrepresentations made by defendants as private developers and outside the scope of their employment with the District, the CGIA does not apply and statutory notice was not required.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Statutory Employer Not Liable for Workplace Injury Where Workers’ Compensation Benefits were Paid

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Monell v. Cherokee River, Inc. on Thursday, February 26, 2015.

Dismissal of Negligence Claims—Attorney Fees Award Under CRS § 13-17-201—Statutory Employer Under CRS § 8-41-401.

Plaintiff was hired by N.J. Liming, a subcontractor to defendant Cherokee River, Inc. (CRI), for the construction of a steel building. Plaintiff was working near high-voltage overhead electrical lines when electricity arced from the lines and electrocuted him, causing severe burns, shock, and temporary heart stoppage.

Plaintiff received workers’ compensation benefits from N.J. Liming. He then sued the landowner, the companies that furnished the electricity and maintained the electrical lines, and CRI. He asserted two negligence claims against CRI. CRI moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim, because it was plaintiff’s statutory employer under CRS § 8-41-401. The district court agreed and dismissed the negligence claims against CRI. CRI moved for attorney fees and costs under CRS § 13-17-201. The district court awarded CRI fees and costs related to defending the tort action and litigating the fees and costs motion.

On appeal, plaintiff argued that the district court erred because CRI was not his statutory employer. The Court of Appeals disagreed. It noted that the workers’ compensation statute immunized employers from tort liability for a workplace injury if the injured worker collects workers’ compensation benefits. Here, it was clear that plaintiff’s injuries arose from an activity that was within the scope of CRI’s business and work. Because CRI was plaintiff’s statutory employer, it was immune to tort liability for his injury.

Plaintiff contended that CRS § 13-17-201 provides that the defendant shall have judgment for his or her reasonable attorney fees. Also, because CRI’s insurer paid the attorney fees, CRI had incurred no attorney fees that plaintiff could pay. He also argued that CRI’s insurer was ineligible for a fees award because it was not a defendant in the case. The Court disagreed. The purpose of the attorney fees statute is to discourage the institution or maintenance of unnecessary tort claims. To whom plaintiff pays the fee award is irrelevant to this purpose.

Plaintiff further argued it was error to award fees for litigating the fees and costs motion, because CRS § 13-17-201 only authorizes an award of fees incurred “in defending the action.” The Court agreed. A defendant is entitled to fees for litigating a CRS § 13-17-201 motion for fees only if the plaintiff’s defense to the motion is substantially frivolous, substantially groundless, or substantially vexatious. There was no such finding here.

Finally, CRI requested appellate attorney fees. The Court granted CRI its reasonable fees relating to the defense of the dismissal order but denied its request for fees relating to its defense of the court’s fee award.

The order granting the motion to dismiss and the fees award for litigating it was affirmed. The fee award for litigating the fees and costs motion was reversed, and the case was case remanded with directions.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Announcement Sheet, 3/5/2015

On Thursday, March 5, 2015, the Colorado Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and 17 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, 3/5/2015

On Thursday, March 5, 2015, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and two unpublished opinions.

United States v. Robinson

United States v. Trotter

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