Lawsuit Against Loveland City Clerk Dismissed
Plaintiffs did not exhaust administrative remedies, judge ruled

by Julia Cardi

A Larimer County district judge on Aug. 24 dismissed a lawsuit against Loveland’s city clerk. After a hearing lasting more than three hours, Judge Daniel McDonald agreed with the city that the court did not have jurisdiction over the case because the plaintiffs had not exhausted their administrative remedies.

The plaintiffs claimed clerk Patti Garcia violated the city charter and state Constitution when she stopped accepting signatures for a ballot petition for retail marijuana sales in Loveland before the 90-day petition period had passed and also argued Garcia deliberately hindered their petition process by telling them they had 180 days, rather than 90 days, to collect signatures.

The City of Loveland said in a news release the clerk will review all signatures collected in the petition’s original 90-day period. Greenspoon Marder attorney Michael Dailey, who is representing the plaintiffs, said they will decide next steps in the case once they know the clerk’s decision accounting for the rest of the signatures.

“I just think, though, the problem still remains that the window of 90 days was really tainted because of how Ms. Garcia ran the process,” Dailey said. “And it’s truly unfortunate that at the end of the day, the administrative issues prevented the court from finding it had jurisdiction.” But he added given the city’s decision to review the additional signatures submitted, he understands the court’s position.

The plaintiffs originally included Tom Wilczynski, Autumn Todd, Todd Campbell and Jeremy Lewchuk. At the beginning of the hearing, McDonald dismissed Campbell as a plaintiff, saying his status as someone who might open a retail marijuana business did not give him standing. McDonald ruled the other three plaintiffs did have standing.

Todd and Wilczynski are the petition’s representatives. They notified Garcia they planned to submit signatures in batches of 50 to avoid overwhelming the clerk’s office, which Garcia approved, according to the complaint. The petition’s 90-day circulation period would have gone through mid-July.

 

This article appears in the Aug. 31 issue of Law Week Colorado. To read the complete article and others from that issue, order a copy online. Subscribers can request a digital PDF of the issue.