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Begley v. Ireson

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Division I

January 12, 2017

Belinda A. Begley & Robert K. Hirsch Revocable Trust, Robert K. Hirsch, and Belinda A. Begley, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
Myrtle Ireson, Virginia Hoeckele, Andrew J. Gibbs, and GibbsYoung LLC, Defendants-Appellees.

         City and County of Denver District Court No. 15CV30222 Honorable Andrew P. McCallin, Judge

         JUDGMENT REVERSED

          Peter R. Bornstein, Greenwood Village, Colorado, for Plaintiffs-Appellants

          Gordon & 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

          OPINION

          ASHBY JUDGE.

         ¶ 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.

         I. Background

         ¶ 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.[1] But after October 2, the builder refused to do any further work on the project. Plaintiffs' complaint[2]alleged 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 ...


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