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Wibby v. Boulder County Board of County Commissioners

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Seventh Division

June 30, 2016

Charles Wibby, Janix Hogle, Maureen Crook, Richard Eggers, Peter Dente, Steve Miller, Barbara Knollenberg, Don Sherwood, Irving Armstrong, Gloria Armstrong, Wayne Bailey, Harriet Bailey, Mike Baum, Carol Baum, Fe Barran, Mark Briggs, William Brown, Jane Brown, James Burow, Shirley Burow, Russell Jay Buster, Robert W. Callis, Nancy L. Callis, Dave Briggs, Renee Chavira, Benjamin Brussell, Elizabeth Brussell, Gregory Bruening, Brenda Bruening, James Calano, Craig Colley, Pam Colley, Don Cooke, Lynn Cooke, Avinder Dhaliwal, Kristy Dhaliwal, Robert Dean, Natalie Dean, Tyler Delaplaine, Shirley Delaplaine, Bryan Devine, Kirsten Devine, Cory F. Dickson, Laura Dickson, Robert R. Dugan, Ernest Eason, Laurie Eason, James Eyster, Katharine Eyster, James Fay, Thomas Finan, Karen Fukuma, Dan Fogelberg, Robyn Fogelberg, Rich Frankenheimer, Demry Frankenheimer, Ted Frazier, Carol Fruth, John Fruth, Richard Gates, Darlene Gates, Jay Gengelbach, David Gerding, Shelly Gerding, Robert Hicks, Suzanne Hicks, Richard Granger, Susan Granger, Douglas Harper, Kelly Harper, Lynn Herklotz, James Herklotz, Vince Hirsch, Laurence Hirshland, Christine Hirshland, William Hoagland, Susan D. Leach, James G. Hohenstein, Jerry Hopf, Charlotte Hopf, J. Mack Hopping, Jeannine E. Hopping, Mike Hupka, Jean Hupka, Yvonne Iden, David Kabal, Cassie Kabal, William Kaewert, Julie Kaewert, Gregory Keene, Jamiee Keene, Edward Klimkowsky, Dolores Klimkowsky, Kenneth Laughery, Scott Leslie, Julie Leslie, Russ Lindemann, Lori Lindemann, Deborah Maduff, Sharon M. Malcolm, Milton Marasch, Nancy Marasch, Michael Mayfield, Madeline Mayfield, Mark McCoy, Lois McCoy, Robert McCraith, Donna McCraith, Paul McCrosson, Herbert McPherson, Shaila McPherson, Quentin McKenna, Eileen McKenna, Steve Merager, John Michalakes, Grace Michalakes, Keith Miller, Janice Miller, Clifford Monette, Patricia Monette, Peter Moore, Rochelle Moore, Joseph Owen, Sharene Owen, Lee Papania, Jerome Papania, Jay Palmer, Shaylin Palmer, David Patton, Kathy Foster-Patton, Dreu Patterson, Mark Ponsor, Susan Ponsor, Dave Rahn, Mark Ringelmann, Nicole Ringelmann, Mark Rothney, Leonard Rozek, Diane Rozek, Ronald Sandgrund, Cheryl Barr, Elaine Scheiman, Robert Searls, Sandra Searls, Rama Gia Speakman, Alan Zalewa, Charles Springer, Deborah Springer, John Stephens, Patricia Stephens, Jim Strouse, Mark Schufman, Jillian Stuart, Rich Summers, Robert Tanner, Hugh Tanner, Edward Theiss, Mary Theiss, Anthony Tome, Jr., Joe Tonahill, Sandra Vanderveer, Will Vanderveer, David Van Deusen, Lisa Haley, Gregory Volan, Wendy Volan, David Walker, Donna Waters, Francis Herb Wiedemann, Josephine Wiedemann, Timothy Wilfong, Anne Wilfong, Gregory Wilson, Christine Wilson, Robin Abb, George Alexander, Lynn Alexander, Jon Allen Lailberte, April Laliberte, Stan Arnold, Jennifer Arnold, Diane Ashley, Glade Bagnell, Marilyn Bagnell, Douglas Barakat, Mary Barakat, Gary Baughman, Jean Baughman, Bonnie Bitter, Phil Bostley, III, Allen Brunke, Janice Brunke, Jennifer Budacz, Jon Burkepile, Steve Carano, Karen K. Christopher, Daniel Conser, Molly K. Brown, Timothy Cunningham, Christine C. Cunningham, Michael Davison, Michael Driver, Dorrel Edstand, Stephen Nepi, Daniel Foley, Judy Foley, Jesse Foote, Paul Gagner, Victoria Gagner, Gordon Gates, Jan Gates, Damon Ginnow, Nancy Ginnow, Josh Ginsberg, Lauren Ginsberg, Robert Grau, Diane Deyo, Ronald Grush, Lisabeth Hall, Clinton Blackwood, Andrew Halperin, Brenda Burnell, James Hammack, Mary Hammack, James Hayes, Jodie Hayes, Donald Hobbs, Joan Hobbs, Susan Hofer, William Hollander, Margaret A. Hollander, Christopher Hume, Tara Hefty, John Jacob, Edwin Kase, Barbara Ellwanger Kase, Terry Kelly, Diane Kelly, David Kerridge, Barbara Kerridge, Robert Franssen, Deborah Keyek Franssen, Eric J. Kramer, Robin Laurel, Ron Leever, Cindy Leever, Stephen Leichty, Julie Melchior, Karen Lin, Melvin Lyon, Patricia Lyon, Robert Marriner, Cynthia Marriner, Mary Elizabeth McClellan, Kay McCormick, Valery McNally, Gregory Mecca, Kristen Mecca, Tom Miers, Donna Miers, Mark Milliman, Elizabeth Mirowski, Brian Coffey, Robert Murphy, Leann Murphy, Stephanie O'Connor, Dennis Ogden, Danean Ogden, Michael Persinger, Lori Persinger, Pamela Pierce, Edward Podrasky, Rita Podrasky, Steven Preitauer, Marie Preitauer, Allen Price, Janet Price, Kerry Richardson, David Rowan, Shelly Rowan, Peter Schild, Paula Schild, Seward Dean Schooler, Jr., Mark Severance, Pamela Severance, Jim Shapiro, Martha Shapiro, Terrence Smith, Kent Somers, Analisa Somers, Andrew Spiegel, John Steiner, Robert Stoddard, Harriett Stoddard, Dave Strand, Ann Strand, William Stawser, Kristopher Pirtle, James Telischak, Christopher Tennis, Timothy Triggs, Penelope Triggs, Leon Tupy, Judy Tupy, Cliff Watts, Craig Werner, Anita M. Wilks, Bob Worley, Dorothy Worley, Ronald D. Young, and Fannie C. Young, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
Boulder County Board of County Commissioners, Defendant-Appellee.

          Boulder County District Court No. 14CV31182 Honorable Dave Williams, Judge

          Halpern Meacham, Madeline J. Meacham, Boulder, Colorado, for Plaintiffs-Appellants

          Ben Pearlman, County Attorney, David Hughes, Deputy County Attorney, Leslie Wright Lacy, Assistant County Attorney, Boulder, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellee


          DUNN J., JUDGE.

          ¶ 1 Unhappy that the roads in their subdivision have fallen into disrepair, property owners in unincorporated Boulder County (collectively, the Owners) filed an action to force the Boulder County Board of County Commissioners (the County) to maintain their subdivision roads. We conclude the Owners do not have standing to bring their claims against the County. We therefore affirm the dismissal of their claims.

         I. Background

         ¶ 2 The Owners alleged the following facts and conclusions in their complaints.[1] The County "accepted road dedications from over 100 subdivisions in the unincorporated county over a period of many decades." The subdivisions dedicated the roads to the County during the subdivision approval process. Once accepted, the subdivision roads became part of the county road system and, by statute, are assigned to the County for maintenance.

         ¶ 3 The County maintained the subdivision roads until the mid-1990s. Since that time, the County has reduced its road funding. As a result, the Owners claimed that the County has neglected to maintain the subdivision roads, resulting in "severe deterioration."

         ¶ 4 In their amended complaint, the Owners sought class certification and asserted claims for breach of contract, declaratory judgment, "mandatory injunction, " mandamus, and "breach of contract damages."[2] They requested a court order requiring the County to restore the subdivision roads to "[g]ood condition, within five years" and to maintain the roads in "[g]ood condition." The County moved to dismiss the amended complaint under C.R.C.P. 12(b)(1) and C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5).

         ¶ 5 The district court granted the motion, ruling that the Owners failed to state a claim for relief. The court concluded that the pleading did not establish the existence of a valid contract or sufficient certainty as to the essential contractual terms, and because the court held that each of the claims "requires that . . . a contractual relationship exist, " it dismissed the amended complaint.

          ¶ 6 The court, however, granted the Owners leave to amend their complaint to assert "one or more claims" alleging that the County abused its discretion or acted arbitrarily in not maintaining the subdivision roads.

         ¶ 7 The Owners' second amended complaint asserted claims for "abuse of discretion, " mandatory injunctive relief, and damages. The County moved to dismiss this complaint, arguing that the Owners lacked standing. The district court agreed and dismissed the second amended complaint.

         ¶ 8 The Owners appeal the dismissal of the amended and second amended complaints.

         II. Standing

         ¶ 9 Although the district court did not address the Owners' standing as to the amended complaint, standing is a threshold jurisdictional issue that may be raised at any time. Ainscough v. Owens, 90 P.3d 851, 855 (Colo. 2004). Without standing, we cannot consider the merits of the Owners' claims. Hickenlooper v. Freedom from Religion Found., Inc., 2014 CO 77, ¶ 7. Thus, we must first determine whether the Owners have standing to assert each of their claims for relief - the contract claim, statutory claims, and "abuse of discretion" claim. We conclude they do not.

         A. Governing Standards

         ¶ 10 To establish standing, a plaintiff must demonstrate that (1) he suffered an injury in fact and (2) the injury was to a legally protected interest. Wimberly v. Ettenberg, 194 Colo. 163, 168, 570 P.2d 535, 539 (1977); accord Ainscough, 90 P.3d at 855. If the plaintiff cannot establish both, "no relief can be afforded, and the case should be dismissed for lack of standing." Wimberly, 194 Colo. at 168, 570 P.2d at 539.

         ¶ 11 The first prong maintains the separation of powers doctrine and prevents a court from invading the legislative and executive spheres. Hickenlooper, ¶ 9. This prong requires a concrete adverseness that sharpens the presentation of issues before the courts. City of Greenwood Vill. v. Petitioners for Proposed City of Centennial, 3 P.3d 427, 437 (Colo. 2000).

         ¶ 12 The second prong requires that the plaintiff demonstrate a "legal interest protecting against the alleged injury." Ainscough, 90 P.3d at 856; see also City of Greenwood Vill., 3 P.3d at 437. A legally protected interest "may rest in property, arise out of contract, lie in tort, or be conferred by statute." Barber v. Ritter, 196 P.3d 238, 246 (Colo. 2008). Thus, a court should consider whether the plaintiff has asserted "a claim for relief under ...

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