On Tuesday, the Colorado Supreme Court declined to take up an appeal in a years-long case involving Denver Councilman Chris Hinds and the rights of those with disabilities.
“As a result of this lawsuit, I became politically involved in Colorado,” Hinds said on Wednesday. “My path in life has changed dramatically.”
In October 2011, Hinds bought a condominium at 1950 Logan Street. He learned that the seven handicap parking spaces at the building had been sold to non-disabled residents after no one with a disability had moved into the building before him. Hinds uses a wheelchair for mobility.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission in 2013 obtained a judgment against the developer, 1950 Logan, LLC, for violating Hinds’s civil rights as well as the state’s Fair Housing Act. When informed that the company was defunct and management since turned over to a homeowners association, the commission dropped the complaint. However, Hinds intervened, claiming that initial property manager Sedgwick Properties Development Corporation was the “alter ego” of 1950 Logan, LLC.
A district court sided with Hinds, but on July 3, 2019, the Colorado Court of Appeals reversed the decision to hold Sedgwick liable for the actions of 1950 Logan, LLC. It wrote that Sedgwick “had no ownership interest in 1950 Logan” and it was unclear whether the district court knew that Sedgwick was just a manager, instead of an owner.
“There is no basis to conclude,” wrote the court, “that 1950 Logan’s corporate form was used to perpetrate a fraud or defeat a rightful claim.”
Hinds, while disappointed that the Supreme Court did not take up the case on appeal, pointed to his advocacy for two major changes in state law that would preclude similar experiences from happening to anyone else with a disability.
House Bill 14-1029 includes among its many provisions related to parking for those with disabilities a stipulation that there shall be no restrictions placed on handicap parking spots. House Bill 18-1285, named the “Chris Hinds Act,” created a placard that exempts those with disabilities from paying for metered parking.
“As a result of this experience that led to the lawsuit, Colorado has its first elected official who uses a wheelchair for mobility in the history of the state,” he said.
Hinds believes that the 2014 law change prevents new condominium developers from selling off parking spaces and harming those with disabilities.
"The law as of 2014 eliminates someone else having to go through the same process that I did," he said. "Hopefully someone who comes after me won't have to be in limbo for eight years."