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Maslak v. Town of Vail

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Third Division

January 15, 2015

Samuel H. Maslak; Luleta Maslak; R. Glenn Hilliard; Deborah L. Webster; Richard J. Callahan; Mary Celeste Callahan; Olson Family 2012 Trust; Landon Hilliard; 1835 Sunburst Drive, LLC, a Colorado limited liability company; and Starfire Company, LTD, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
Town of Vail, a municipal corporation; and Planning and Environmental Commission of the Town of Vail, Defendants-Appellees

Page 973

Eagle County District Court No. 13CV30113. Honorable Russell H. Granger, Judge.

ORDERS VACATED AND CASE REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS.

Holland & Hart LLP, Christopher H. Toll, Steven T. Collis, Greenwood Village, Colorado; Holland and Hart LLP, Stephen G. Masciocchi, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Hayes Phillips Hoffmann & Carberry, Kelly L. Donlon, Kendra L. Carberry, Denver, Colorado; Hayes Phillips Hoffmann & Carberry, J. Matthew Mire, Vail, Colorado, for Defendants-Appellees Town of Vail, a municipal corporation, and Planning and Environmental Commission of the Town of Vail.

Opinion by JUDGE HAWTHORNE. Dailey and Dunn, JJ., concur.

OPINION

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HAWTHORNE JUDGE

[¶1] In this municipal land use dispute, plaintiffs -- Samuel H. Maslak, Luleta Maslak, R. Glenn Hilliard, Deborah L. Webster, Richard J. Callahan, Mary Celeste Callahan, Olson Family 2012 Trust, Landon Hilliard, 1835 Sunburst Drive, LLC, a Colorado limited liability company, and Starfire Company, LTD (collectively the Homeowners) -- appeal the Eagle County District Court's order granting the motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction filed by defendants, the Town of Vail (the Town), the Planning and Environmental Commission of the Town of Vail (the Planning Commission), and the Vail Recreation District (the VRD). The Homeowners also appeal the court's order awarding attorney fees to the Town. We vacate the orders and remand the case to the district court with instructions to reinstate the Homeowners' complaint in the Eagle County District Court.

I. Facts and Procedural History

[¶2] The Town and the VRD submitted an application to the Planning Commission to amend the Vail Golf Course's conditional use permit so that the golf course could be expanded to accommodate an events center. Over the Homeowners' objections, the Planning Commission approved the application. The Homeowners appealed the Planning Commission's decision to the Town Council, which upheld the decision.

[¶3] The Homeowners then filed a C.R.C.P. 106(a)(4) complaint, seeking review of the Town Council's decision. The Homeowners E-Filed the complaint with ICCES, Colorado's E-Filing Provider, on June 28, 2013, which was four days before the 28-day deadline for filing a Rule 106(a)(4) complaint. See C.R.C.P. 106(b) (28-day deadline for filing Rule 106(a)(4) complaints). The administrative assistant who filed it, however, selected the wrong district court (the Denver District Court) from the ICCES drop-down menu, rather than the Eagle County District Court that was noted on the caption.

[¶4] Three days later, ICCES e-mailed a notice to the administrative assistant indicating

Page 975

that the Denver District Court Clerk had rejected the complaint because of an " incorrect caption." The rejection notice stated: " please correct and re-submit or submit to correct court." The administrative assistant read the e-mail notice on July 5, 2013, and immediately submitted the complaint to the correct court, the Eagle County District Court.

[¶5] Defendants then filed motions in the Eagle County District Court, seeking to dismiss the Homeowners' Rule 106(a)(4) action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. As relevant here, the Town argued that the Homeowners " did not file their Complaint until July 5, 2013. Therefore, [they] have failed to meet their jurisdictional requirements of perfecting their appeal within 28 days and their Complaint should be dismissed." The VRD similarly argued: " The Complaint in this action was not filed until July 5, 2013.. .. Because [the Homeowners'] Complaint was not filed, and this action not commenced and perfected within twenty-eight (28) days after the final decision complained of, the Court lacks subject matter [jurisdiction] to proceed. [The Homeowners'] Complaint must therefore be dismissed with prejudice."

[¶6] In response, the Homeowners argued that they " filed this action in a district court with jurisdiction over the matter and thus properly invoked the jurisdiction of the district courts in a timely manner." The Homeowners alternatively argued that their misfiling was due to technical difficulties with the E-Filing system, and the Eagle County District Court could therefore permit the complaint to be filed nunc pro tunc to the date it was E-Filed with the Denver District Court.

[¶7] The Eagle County District Court granted defendants' motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, rejecting the Homeowners' " technical difficulties" argument. The court did not, however, address the Homeowners' argument that they had " filed [the] action in a district court with jurisdiction over the matter and thus properly invoked the jurisdiction of the district courts in a timely manner."

[¶8] The Town then filed a motion for attorney fees, arguing that the Homeowners' continued pursuit of the action against defendants was frivolous and groundless. The court granted the motion and ordered the Homeowners to pay the Town's reasonable attorney fees.

II. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

[¶9] The Homeowners contend that they had invoked district court jurisdiction -- including that of the Eagle County District Court -- by E-Filing their Rule 106(a)(4) complaint with the Denver District Court before the 28-day jurisdictional deadline for filing a Rule 106(a)(4) complaint. Thus, according to the Homeowners, the Eagle County District Court erred in ...


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