Colorado Supreme Court Opinions

June 18, 2018

2018 CO 56 No. 16SC365, U.S. Welding, Inc. v. Advanced Circuits, Inc.

Breach of Contract,Mitigation,Settlement Offer,Accord and Satisfaction.

U.S. Welding, Inc. (Welding) sought review of the Court of Appeals’ judgment affirming the district court’s order awarding it no damages whatsoever for breach of contract with Advanced Circuits, Inc. (Advanced). Notwithstanding its determination following a bench trial that Advanced breached its contract to purchase from Welding all its nitrogen requirements during a one-year term, the district court reasoned that by declining Advanced’s request for an estimate of lost profits expected to result from Advanced’s breach before the contract term expired, Welding failed to mitigate.

The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ judgment concerning the failure to mitigate and remanded the case for further proceedings. The Court held that the district court erred by requiring Welding to settle for a projection of anticipated lost profits, rather than its actual loss, as measured by the amount of nitrogen Advanced actually purchased from another vendor over the contract term, because an aggrieved party is not obligated to mitigate damages from a breach by giving up its rights under the contract.

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2018 CO 57. No. 15SC701. McMullin v. Hauer.

Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act,Common Interest Communities,Homeowners’ Associations.

The Supreme Court reviewed the Court of Appeals’ opinion affirming the trial court’s order finding that the recorded instruments in this case were sufficient to create both a common interest community by implication and an unincorporated homeowners’ association. The Court held that the recorded instruments were insufficient under the Colorado Community Interest Ownership Act to create a common interest community by implication. Accordingly, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

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2018 CO 58. No. 17SC55. Roberts v. Bruce.

Attorney Fees,Statutory Interpretation.

In this case, the Supreme Court considered whether a trial court may award attorney fees under CRS § 13-17-102 for conduct occurring outside Colorado courts. Reviewing the plain language of section 102, the Court concluded that an award of attorney fees pursuant to that section is limited to conduct occurring in Colorado courts and therefore affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

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2018 CO 59. No. 16SC894. City of Boulder v. Public Service Company of Colorado.

Declaratory Judgment Actions,CRCP 57,CRCP 106,Municipal Ordinances,Finality.

This case arises out of respondents’ challenge to petitioner city’s attempt to create a light and power utility. Respondents assert that the ordinance establishing the utility violates the city’s charter. Respondents thus seek a declaratory judgment deeming that ordinance null and void. The city asserted that respondents’ complaint was, in reality, an untimely CRCP 106 challenge to a prior ordinance by which the city had concluded that it could meet certain prerequisites for the formation of the utility as prescribed by the city charter. The district court agreed with the city and dismissed respondents’ complaint for lack of jurisdiction. A division of the Court of Appeals, however, vacated the district court’s judgment, concluding that neither of the pertinent ordinances was final and therefore respondents’ complaint was premature.

The Supreme Court reversed the division’s decision and remanded the case for further proceedings on respondents’ declaratory judgment claim. Although the Court agreed with the city that the division erred, contrary to petitioners’ position and the premises on which the courts below proceeded, the Court agreed with respondents that the complaint asserted a viable and timely claim seeking a declaration that the ordinance establishing the utility violated the city charter. Accordingly, the Court concluded that the district court had jurisdiction to hear respondents’ declaratory judgment claim, and the Court remanded the case to allow that claim to proceed.

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2018 CO 60. No. 18SA26. People v. Stackhouse.

Double Jeopardy.

Pursuant to C.A.R. 21, the People challenged a district court order granting Stackhouse’s motion to compel the People to elect a particular allegation of sexual assault on a child as their sole basis for proceeding in Stackhouse’s retrial. The Supreme Court held that the district court erred when it concluded that the jury in Stackhouse’s first trial had necessarily concluded that he did not commit multiple acts of assault, and therefore that he could not be retried for more than a single assault. The Court made the rule to show cause absolute, reversed the district court’s order, and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings.

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