Close Up Of Gavel Resting On Its Sounding Block

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has dismissed a Boulder couple’s lawsuit against Boulder County for allegedly terminating their federal disaster-recovery assistance wrongfully.

In September 2013, heavy rain and flooding damaged the home of Michael W. Bruzga and Carole A. Zolnick. Eight people died in the natural disaster and over 2,000 homes were destroyed, along with hundreds of miles of highway and 50 bridges.

One year later, Bruzga and Zolnick received $32,812 in federal Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds and signed an agreement with the county stating that the money was “contingent on continued eligibility for and compliance.”

However, in March 2016, Boulder County terminated the assistance because Bruzga had violated three terms of the agreement pertaining to building code and land use violations, plus failing to submit a progress report.

The plaintiffs alleged that they had a “contractually based property right” to the recovery money.

Circuit Judge Joel M. Carson III, writing for the three-judge panel, stated that supposing Bruzga and Zolnick had a protected interest in the disaster funds, which a lower court found they did not, they should have sued in state court for their claim.

“They do not challenge the district court’s finding that they failed to satisfy the second element of their claim: that they were not deprived of an appropriate level of process because they could pursue a state-law breach-of-contract action,” Carson wrote.

“Failure to challenge this finding justifies affirmance of the district court’s dismissal.”

The case is Michael W. Bruzga; Carole A. Zolnick v. County of Boulder.

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