Wait, You Want An HOA?! Restricting Implied Common-Interest Communities

By: Neal McConomy

While the butt of many jokes and a thorn in the side of some property owners, homeowners associations (“HOAs”) serve the vital function of collecting and disbursing funds to care for and maintain common areas of residential developments. Without HOAs, neighborhood open spaces, parks, and other amenities risk falling into disrepair through a type of tragedy of the commons, wherein residents use such amenities but refuse to subsidize care and maintenance for these common areas believing someone else will pony-up the funds. HOAs, when properly organized and managed, avoid this problem by ensuring everyone pays their fair shares for the common areas.… Read More »

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Offensive Discovery after Strudley and Changes to the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure

By: Neal McConomy

Toxic tort cases often involve real property, especially in areas with large mining and energy sectors like the West and Southwest. The cases frequently have large potential damage values and require extensive discovery. Numerous expert witnesses, vast amounts of real property testing, and significant document production are common. The cost of engaging in this far reaching discovery is often a significant factor in early settlement negotiations. Toxic tort defendants have a substantial incentive to settle disputes before engaging in discovery no matter the likelihood of success at trial because the discovery costs alone represent a sizeable expense that cannot be recovered even with a successful verdict at trial.… Read More »

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Successful Laches Defense Becoming Commonplace in Colorado

By: Neal McConomy

Boiler plate language in responsive pleadings often includes “Plaintiff’s claims are barred by the doctrine of laches” (or “The doctrine of laches bars Plaintiff’s claims” if you prefer the active voice).  However, litigation of a laches defense is fairly rare, and a defendant successfully arguing a laches defense is something of a legal Haley’s Comet, only less reliable. Often, courts refuse to consider a laches defense if a statute of limitations applies. See e.g., Ivani Contracting Corp. v. City of New York, 103 F.3d 257 (2d Cir. 1997); and Lyons P’ship v. Morris Costumes, Inc., 243 F.3d 789 (4th Cir.… Read More »

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Beneath the Surface: Entek GRB, LLC v. Stull Ranches, LLC and the Continuing Battle Between Surface Owners and Subsurface Owners

By: Neal McConomy

On August 14, 2014, the Tenth Circuit vacated and remanded the lower court’s decision regarding a dispute between a surface owner’s and a subsurface owner’s respective rights to access and enjoy land and property rights.  Entek GRB, LLC v. Stull Ranches, LLC, 763 F.3d 1252 (10th Cir. 2014).  The decision reached in Entek GRB, LLC v. Stull Ranches, LLC addresses a debate occurring throughout Colorado and the United States: what controls do surface owners have regarding subsurface owners’ claims for access to and occupation of surface areas in their pursuit to exercise their rights to the oil, gas, and other minerals beneath the surface owner’s land. … Read More »

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Governmental Power and Property Lines

By: Neal McConomy

On May 27, 2014, the Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Town of Dillon v. Yacht Club Condos. Home Owners Ass’n, 2014 CO 37.  Overturning the rulings of both the trial court and the Colorado Court of Appeals, the Colorado Supreme Court reaffirmed the long-standing deference Colorado law shows to state legislative bodies exerting their police powers.  This opinion reminds Colorado property owners that property rights and interests end at the property line and no one should rely on the ability to use public land around their property in the future.

Between 1965 and 1967, a developer constructed the Yacht Club Condominiums in Dillon, Colorado, consisting of three buildings and fifty condominium units. … Read More »

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Legal Pot Leads to Possible Nuisance Suits, but Viability is Unlikely

By: Neal McConomy

Almost four months into Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana for adults aged twenty-one and over, the weather is warming, windows are opening, and outdoor spaces are getting more use.  All the while, a segment of the Colorado population, especially in the City and County of Denver (“Denver”), is exercising its new-found legal right to use marijuana.[1]  A pungent plant known for its skunk-like aroma, marijuana, accompanied by its distinct scent, is poised to waft onto properties across Colorado that may find the odor less than euphoric.[2]  The issue becomes whether these Denver residents have a legal avenue to control the once contraband odors from invading their living spaces, be it an adjacent apartment, backyard, or living room.… Read More »

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