Our Appellate Department continues to play a prominent role in shaping Colorado law across diverse areas, including constitutional, land use, tort, contract, and property law:
Constitutional and Land Use law
The Colorado Court of Appeals recently ruled in FGMC’s favor on questions of first impression concerning the interplay between constitutional First Amendment rights to support political candidates, and due process rights to an impartial tribunal. The trial court barred an elected county commissioner from participating in the board of county commissioners’ decision whether to approve a land use application where the commissioner previously received modest campaign donations from the applicant. FGMC persuaded the appellate court to reverse based on U.S. Supreme Court precedent balancing First Amendment and due process rights and establishing that modest, proportional donations do not create an unconstitutionally high risk of bias in elected officers. The case is T.A.A.S.Q., Inc. v. Board of Cnty. Comm’rs, 21CA1897 (available here). FGMC partners Chip G. Schoneberger and Lawrence G. Katz handled the case at both the trial and appellate levels.
Tort law – The Rescue Doctrine
The Colorado Supreme Court granted FGMC’s request to review issues of first impression impacting how Colorado tort law treats Good Samaritans injured while rescuing others in danger – known as the “rescue” doctrine. Having previously convinced the Colorado Supreme Court to recognize the doctrine, the case now returns to the Supreme Court for the second time to determine issues related to causation and scope of liability to rescuers who intervene to stop violent criminal assaults. The case is Garcia v. Colo. Cab Co., 2021SC895. The previous Supreme Court decision recognizing the rescue doctrine is available here. FGMC partners Chip G. Schoneberger (appellate counsel) and Danny S. Foster (trial counsel) handled the case.
Contract, Property, Evictions
FGMC also recently won an appeal involving the distinction between property leases and purchase options in an eviction context. After the trial court ruled a longer purchase option term supplanted a shorter lease term and controlled the lease duration, FGMC persuaded the appellate court to reverse and recognize that leases and purchase options represent separate property interests and need not run concurrently or relate to each other. FGMC partners Chip G. Schoneberger (appellate counsel) and Michael G. Milstein (trial counsel) handled the case.