Belinda A. Begley & Robert K. Hirsch Revocable Trust, Robert K. Hirsch, and Belinda A. Begley, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
Myrtle Ireson, Virginia Hoeckele, Andrew J. Gibbs, and GibbsYoung LLC, Defendants-Appellees.
and County of Denver District Court No. 15CV30222 Honorable
Andrew P. McCallin, Judge
R. Bornstein, Greenwood Village, Colorado, for
& Rees LLP, John R. Mann, Denver, Colorado; Jonsen Law
Firm, LLC, Eric R. Jonsen, Broomfield, Colorado, for
Defendants-Appellees Myrtle Ireson and Virginia Hoeckele
McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, LLP, Glendon L.
Laird, Kevin S. Hoskins, Englewood, Colorado, for
Defendants-Appellees Andrew J. Gibbs and GibbsYoung LLC
1 Plaintiffs, Belinda A. Begley, Robert K. Hirsch, and the
Belinda A. Begley and Robert K. Hirsch Revocable Trust,
appeal the district court's dismissal of their complaint
alleging tortious interference with a contract and
prospective contractual relations against defendants, Myrtle
Ireson, Virginia Hoeckele, Andrew J. Gibbs, and GibbsYoung
LLC. We reverse.
2 Hirsch, Begley, and their joint trust (collectively Begley
and Hirsch) own a residential property in Denver on which
Hirsch and his wife Begley wish to build a new home. Ireson
is their neighbor on one side and Hoeckele is their neighbor
on the other.
3 Begley and Hirsch's architectural and engineering plans
to demolish the old house on the property and build a new one
were approved by the City and County of Denver. They
contracted with a builder to undertake the project and the
builder demolished the old house in September 2014. Several
weeks later, on October 1, the builder began the shoring work
that was a prerequisite to excavating the new
basement. But after October 2, the builder refused
to do any further work on the project. Plaintiffs'
complaintalleged that during the period before
demolition through mid-January 2015, Ireson, Hoeckele, and
their attorney, Gibbs, made statements and complaints to
Begley, Hirsch, and the builder that caused the builder to
halt construction and breach the contract.
4 In late January 2015, plaintiffs filed claims against
defendants alleging intentional interference with a contract
and intentional interference with prospective contractual
relations. Several days later, Ireson and Hoeckele filed
their own suit against Begley and Hirsch, among others.
Hoeckele moved to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint under
C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5) for failure to state a claim upon which
relief could be granted. Ireson and Gibbs joined in this
motion. The motion argued that the defendants' allegedly
tortious statements were made in anticipation of Ireson and
Hoeckele's own suit against plaintiffs and were therefore
absolutely privileged from any tort liability for interfering
with contracts or contractual relations.
5 The district court apparently took judicial notice of
Ireson and Hoeckele's separate suit against plaintiffs
and granted the motion to dismiss. It ruled that (1) the
complaint failed to allege that Ireson or Hoeckele made any
statements that caused the builder to breach the contract and
(2) Gibbs' statements were absolutely privileged based on
Ireson and Hoeckele's later-filed suit.
6 Plaintiffs argue that these two rulings, and the resulting