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Rich v. Ball Ranch P'ship

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Division A

January 29, 2015

Melody L. Rich, individually, as Trustee of Erma L. Rich Trust, and as Agent under the Power of Attorney for Erma L. Rich, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Ball Ranch Partnership, a Colorado general partnership; Roland G. Ball; Leonard O. Ball; Tammie L. Ball; Wayne E. Ball; and Merietta B. West, Defendants-Petitioners

Weld County District Court No. 13CV30352. Honorable Julie C. Hoskins, Judge.

PETITION DISMISSED.

Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, LLC, Jennifer L. Peters, Greeley, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Respondent.

Witwer Oldenburg Barry & Groom, LLP, John J. Barry, Greeley, Colorado; Winters Hellerich & Hughes, LLC, Thomas E. Hellerich, Greeley, Colorado, for Defendants-Petitioners.

Opinion by JUDGE J. JONES. Taubman and Webb, JJ., concur.

OPINION

J. JONES JUDGE

[¶1] Ball Ranch Partnership, Roland G. Ball, Leonard O. Ball, Tammie L. Ball, Wayne W. Ball, and Marietta B. West (collectively, petitioners) petition this court, pursuant

Page 981

to section 13-4-102.1, C.R.S. 2014, and C.A.R. 4.2 for interlocutory review of the district court's order denying their motion for a determination of a question of law. We dismiss the petition because the issue certified by the district court -- the interpretation of a contractual provision -- does not present a " question of law" within the meaning of section 13-4-102.1 and C.A.R. 4.2.

I. Background

[¶2] From those documents petitioners have submitted with their petition, we glean that this case involves a dispute over operation of the Ball Ranch Partnership.[1] Plaintiff, Melody L. Rich, represents the Erma L. Rich Trust, which is a partner in Ball Ranch Partnership, as are, apparently, petitioners. Ms. Rich, on behalf of herself, Erma L. Rich, and the Erma L. Rich Trust, has brought suit against petitioners challenging partnership actions, alleging breaches of fiduciary duties.

[¶3] Ball Ranch Partnership is governed by a 1982 partnership agreement. Purportedly central to the parties' dispute is the meaning of Section VIII of the agreement, entitled " RESTRICTIONS ON TRANSFER," which states:

No partner shall, except with the written consent of all other partners, assign, mortgage, pledge, sell, lease, or otherwise dispose of his or her share in the Partnership or in the capital assets and property, directly or indirectly.

[¶4] Petitioners moved for a determination of a question of law pursuant to C.R.C.P. 56(h), asking the court to interpret Section VIII to mean that (1) it does not restrict transfers by the partnership itself; (2) it does not restrict the ability of individual partners to make transfers on the partnership's behalf; and (3) it only restricts transfers by an individual partner of that partner's ...


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