It is the promise, not the paper it’s written on, that makes a contract. Plaintiff is a capital advisory firm. It had an agreement with Defendants to help them find financing. Defendants later contracted with another firm that did secure financing for Defendants. Plaintiff sought to enforce a provision that entitled it to 4.5% of the financed amount. Defendants argued the agreement was void because two of three provisions violated CRS 12-61- 101 (brokerage laws) and CRS 11-51-604 (securities laws), and thus the whole agreement was void. The trial court agreed; the court of appeals did not. Looking to the number of promises in the agreement, the court held that, in essence, each provision was its own “contract” even though they were all memorialized in the same agreement. The two unlawful provisions were severed so the agreement was not void, and judgment for Defendants was reversed.
Category Archives: Corporations
CapitalValue Advisors, LLC v. K2D, Inc., d/b/a Colorado Premium Foods; Kevin LaFleur; Don Babcock; and Triton Capital Partners, Ltd., 2013 COA 125 (August 15, 2013)
Mid Valley Real Estate Solutions V, LLC, v. Hepworth-Pawlak Geotechnical, Inc.; Steve Pawlak; Daniel Hardin; and S K Peightal Engineers, Ltd., 2013COA119 (August 1, 2013)
Soils swelled, cracking substructure; single-asset subsidiary sues. Residential homebuilders owe an independent duty to homeowners to build a home with reasonable care. In this CAR 4.2 interlocutory appeal, Defendant homebuilders argued that the economic loss rule should prevent a corporate subsidiary of a bank from bringing tort claims that a natural-person homeowner could bring. Rejecting each of Defendants’ arguments, the court of appeals held that the independent duty owed by homebuilders announced in Cosmopolitan Homes, Inc. v. Weller, 663 P.2d 1041(Colo. 1983) also prevents the economic loss rule from barring a corporate-plaintiff’s construction defect claims. A homebuilder’s duty of care is owed to any subsequent owner of a house because the duty arises from the residential nature of the project, not the nature of the homeowner (corporate or otherwise).
Michael Weinstein; Kenneth Major; Manymajors Managements, Inc.; and Business Mechanic, Inc., v. Colborne Foodbotics, LLC 2013CO33 (June 10, 2013)
“LLCs combine the limited personal liability of a corporation with the single-tier tax treatment of a partnership.” (Opinion). Here, the Court interpreted the Colorado Limited Liability Company Act, CRS 7-80-606 (Act), and concluded that a judgment Creditor of the LLC could not bring suit against either the Managers or the Members of the LLC. The Managers were companies owned by the Members (natural persons). Creditor obtained a judgment against the LLC. Managers then induced the LLC to distribute its assets to the Members. Creditor sued the Members under the Act for an unlawful distribution, and sued the Managers for a common law breach of fiduciary duty claim. The Court concluded that under the express terms of the Act, only an LLC can sue its members for unlawful distributions. And, Act does not extend corporation common law to an LLC in any instance except a veil-piercing claim.
Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas, and Saxon Mortgage, v. Veronica E. Samora, 2013COA81 (May 23, 2013)
“Samora chose to accept … misrepresentations rather than … investigate the transaction after discovering the document was a warranty deed with the name of an individual [Wasia] she had never met.” (Opinion). Samora was the victim of a complex real estate fraud. As part of the fraud, she relied on misrepresentations about a warranty deed she signed, and unknowingly transferring title to Wasia. Wasia deeded the house to Saxon for a loan. Deutsche Bank (DB), Saxon’s trustee, sought to quiet title. The appellate court held that the Samora-Wasia deed was valid. As a consequence: 1) Samora’s claims accrued when she alerted the DA to the fraud, 2) there was no fraud in the factum because she knew she signed a deed, and 3) DB (who was not “closely related” to Saxon) was a holder in due course. Thus, the deed was not voided and the Wasia-Saxon deed was not a spurious lien. Title quieted in Saxon.
You are not defined by what you do – nor is your LLC. An LLC created for the purpose of developing a property suffers major financial problems. The sole member and manager loaned his own funds to the company. The LLC fails anyway. An excavation company doing work for the LLC does not get paid in full and sues. By the time of trial, the member was the the last defendant standing. Excavator claimed the funds loaned to the LLC should have been held in trust under the Construction Trust Fund Statute – CRS 38-22-127. The Court disagreed. The loan was made for general operations, not specific construction activities. There is a distinction between the contractor (here, the LLC) and the project. Examining the totality of the circumstances, the Court concluded the loaned funds were not funds disbursed “on a construction project.” Thus, the manager was not liable for not holding the funds in trust.
Real estate development companies, through the individuals that control them, can run the special tax districts they create. Colorado’s Special District Act, meant to encourage development of open land, permits developers to control such districts and to pledge taxes and fees collected by the district to themselves. But, no government can delegate legislative functions to a private party such as a developer. Here, a special district attempted to assign the fees it collected to a developer. The developer then charged landowners interest on the fees. The court of appeals held that: 1) the district did not have the statutory authority to “assign” development fees, 2) developer could not charge interest on development fees, and 3) the assignment did not give developer a lien. Rather, districts can only “pledge” payments to developers, which must be set and collected by the district.
When one member of a two member LLC decides that a derivative action by the other member is not in the best interest of the LLC, is that decision the product of an independent and adequate inquiry? Here, the trial court said “yes” and dismissed the plaintiff’s derivative claims before discovery. The court of appeals reversed, in part, holding that business, personal, or familial relationships may raise factual questions about whether the decision-maker is “independent” under section 7-80-716, C.R.S. 2011. Although plaintiffs have the burden to prove lack of independence, defendants must also have some evidence that the member(s) had sufficient information to make a good-faith decision that maintenance of the derivative action was not in the LLCs’ best interest. In this case, plaintiff was entitled to discovery; therefore, the appeals court reversed dismissal of the derivative claims.