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District Court Upholds Wrongful Eviction Award where Residential Landlord performed Self-Help Evicti

Trial Win for Partner Annie Murphy

Annie Murphy, partner at DWMK, tried a landlord-tenant dispute in 2014 with former associate Matthew Montgomery in which the Plaintiffs-Appellants, Lees, leased their Grand Junction home to our client, Defendant-Appellee, Sutherland. At trial, the evidence showed that the landlords locked Sutherland out of her home while she was in the middle of moving without obtaining a court order for possession. After trial, the court found in favor of Sutherland on her counterclaims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, wrongful eviction, conversion, and trespass and against Plaintiffs. Sutherland was also awarded her attorney fees even though the underlying lease contained a provision that entitled only the landlord to collect attorney fees if litigation ensued. Colorado law provides that if a lease contains a provision “for either party to obtain attorney fees”, the prevailing party may recover reasonable attorney fees. The Lees appealed the County Court judgment and on appeal, judgement in favor of Sutherland was affirmed (September 2015).