Court Opinions- Jun 25, 2018

U.S. Welding, Inc. v. Advanced Circuits, Inc.

Advanced Circuits and U.S. Welding entered into a contract naming Welding the sole provider of nitrogen for Advanced for one year. In 2014, Advanced Circuits filed a complaint alleging breach of contract and interference with contract against U.S. Welding. 

Welding in turn filed a cross-complaint alleging Advanced had breached their contract by using Buckeye Welding Supply Company as a nitrogen supplier while under contract.

Advanced was looking elsewhere for nitrogen because the company had grown and it became cheaper to buy in bulk, which it was unable to negotiate for with Welding. Advanced told Welding it wouldn’t be renewing the contract and that it would not be seeking nitrogen from Welding for the remainder of the contract. Advanced asked that Welding calculate the losses so Advanced could buy out the remainder of the contract. Welding refused and said Advanced was in breach of contract. Welding did not give a lost-profits analysis to Advanced.

The district court and the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that Welding would receive no award for Advanced Circuit’s breach of contract as Welding failed to mitigate when Advanced offered to buy out Welding’s end of the contract. The court found that the district court erred. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that an aggrieved party is not obligated to mitigate damages by giving up its rights, as Welding would do in being bought out. The judgment of failure to mitigate is reversed.

McMullin v. Hauer

In the late 1990s Crea and Martha McMullin bought land in Rio Blanco County to develop a subdivision. Several lots were established with a 17-acre open space. The McMullins were unable to sell the land, and mortgages on two lots were foreclosed upon. Joseph and Kelly Conrado bought one of the foreclosed lots. John and Sera Hauer bought the other foreclosed lot along with another. The McMullins sold the remaining four to the Lincoln Trust Company for the benefit of John Hauer.

The Hauers argued that their lots gave them rights to the open space via a common-interest community. The trial court found that the official plot of land, some deeds and the subdivision agreement established the common-interest community that held the title for the open space. The McMullins appealed and the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court.

The court ruled that the records used to establish control of the open space were not sufficient to create the common-interest community under the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act, giving the McMullins hope to retain ownership of the open space. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals ruling and remanded the case. 

Roberts v. Bruce

Before her death in 1996, Della Roberts created a trust with her son James Roberts as trustee and her grandchildren as beneficiaries. The district court found that James Roberts failed to fulfill his obligations to the trust. 

His wife Mary Sue Roberts became trustee after he died, however the grandchildren removed her with a majority vote and moved in a Colorado court to be named permanent co-trustees. 

Mary Sue Roberts responded to say that the Colorado court lacked jurisdiction as James and Mary Sue Roberts had moved to West Virginia in 1999. The district court rejected the jurisdictional challenge and granted the motion for the grandchildren.

Mary Sue Roberts moved the case to federal court in West Virginia. She failed there, but the grandchildren had incurred considerable attorney’s fees, which made them go to a Colorado court to have Mary Sue Roberts pay their fees.

This case considers whether Colorado’s statute on attorney fees allows for fees to be awarded when the fees were incurred while dealing with an action out of state. The court rules that an award of attorney fees is limited to conduct occurring in Colorado courts.

City of Boulder v. Public Service Company of Colorado

Several years ago, Boulder citizens added to the City Charter the ability of the City Council to make a public power utility under certain conditions. 

The main conditions were that a third-party expert verifies that the utility can acquire the electrical system in Boulder and not charge for electricity more than Xcel Energy. 

Also required was for the utility to pay its own operating expenses and debts, and to have a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. After a report from a third-party expert, the City Council passed the Metrics Ordinance saying they were capable to meet the above requirements. 

The council also gave authority to the city manager to obtain real property and equipment from Xcel under eminent domain, which Xcel did not challenge.

Eight months later the council passed the Utility Ordinance to establish the light and power utility. Xcel challenged this, saying Boulder Public Utilities Commission concluded that Boulder couldn’t act as it did to serve customers outside of the city limits and that the models Boulder used to meet the charter requirements underestimated the costs of taking over the Xcel electrical system.

The City of Boulder stated that Xcel’s complaint was a challenge to the Metrics Ordinance and not the Utility Ordinance, making it an untimely challenge, which is outside the district court’s jurisdiction. The district court agreed and dismissed the complaint. 

The court of appeals stated that both ordinances were final, so Xcel’s complaint was premature. 

The Supreme Court agrees with Xcel that its complaint was valid and timely, giving the district court jurisdiction. 

People V. Stackhouse

In 2010 James Stackhouse was convicted of sexual assault on a child as well as sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust. The jury did not find him guilty of the sentence enhancer of sexual assault on a child as a pattern of abuse.

Stackhouse asked for post-conviction relief, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court granted the motion, vacated his convictions and granted a new trial.

Stackhouse asked for a restriction of the trial to only one of the allegations of sexual abuse, as the jury did not find that his actions were not a pattern and that he did not commit two or more assaults. Stackhouse argued that under his rights to due process, a fair trial and to be free from double jeopardy kept the prosecution from rearguing other allegations of abuse to a new jury.

The district court stated that the original jury determined he had only committed one act of abuse and could only be retried for one count. The state came to the court to review the district court’s order. The court issued a rule to show cause as to why the district court’s order should not be vacated. The rule was made absolute. 

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