Appellate Practice Highlights

Constitutional, Contract, Employment

FGMC recently persuaded the Colorado Court of Appeals to reverse the trial court’s summary judgment order in an employment contract dispute. The trial court ruled a hospital correctly terminated a physician for violating its policy prohibiting the physician from providing services under Colorado’s aid-in-dying statute. However, the Court of Appeals agreed with FGMC that summary judgment was inappropriate because a jury must decide whether the physician actually violated the hospital’s policy and whether the termination was pretextual. The Court of Appeals further agreed with FGMC that religious freedom under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has no bearing on the parties’ contract dispute. The case is Morris v. Centura Health Corp., 21CA1855 (available here). FGMC partners Chip G. Schoneberger (appellate counsel) and Steve J. Wienczkowski (trial counsel) handled the case.

Contract, Land Use, Property

The Colorado Court of Appeals recently agreed with FGMC and affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of a contract dispute brought in the context of a subdivision development. The trial court dismissed as “unripe” the plaintiff’s suit against a metropolitan district, its developer, and its board members, seeking reimbursement for public improvements made within the district. Adopting FGMC’s arguments, the appellate court rejected the plaintiff’s attempt to establish ripeness through numerous procedural and evidentiary challenges to the trial court’s ruling. The case is Babcock Land Corp. v. Carriage Hills Dev. et al., 21CA2029 (available here). FGMC partners Chip G. Schoneberger (appellate counsel) and Steve J. Wienczkowski (trial counsel) handled the case.

In another case, FGMC successfully defended a judgment on appeal involving interpretation of the protective covenants governing a residential community. Following FGMC’s arguments, the appellate court ruled the community’s governing board need not determine a resident’s application to approve proposed construction on their property until all requested information is provided or the application contains all information necessary for the board to exercise its decision-making authority. The case is Deerfield Homeowners and Prop. Owners, Inc. v. Patterson, 21CA1595 (available here). FGMC partner Melanie MacWilliams-Brooks handled the case at both the trial and appellate level.

Chip Schoneberger


Steven Wienczkowski


Melanie MacWilliams-Brooks


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