Elk Creek Ranch Homeowners Prevail on Claims against Bill Wheeler, Elk…

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Aspen Trial Matthew Ferguson

"[T]he verdict should send a strong message to Mr. Wheeler and his family to restore fly-fishing rights for this critical resource” Matt Ferguson

Elk Creek Ranch Owner’s Association prevailed in its lawsuit against developer William H. Wheeler for breaching his fiduciary duties while he was a director. Elk Creek Ranch is a premier fly-fishing and hunting club outside Meeker, Colorado with approximately 50 members. An 8 person Colorado jury also found that Wheeler’s company Elk Creek Operations, LLC had breached its management contract when it failed to collect $872,013.19 in assessments from Wheeler’s development company Elk Creek Ranch Development Company. Wheeler was found personally liable for an additional $144,000. The jury rejected Wheeler’s defenses. The Court had already found a breach of the governing declaration for the community. Elk Creek president Kevin McCoy said that “We sued to vindicate our members’ rights and are looking forward to a new and exciting future for our club.” Wheeler is no longer a member.

The jury also found a breach of a critical 60-year Fishing Lease the Elk Creek owners have with YZ Ranch, LLC, a Wheeler family ranching entity managed by Wheeler. The YZ Ranch was held in violation of the duty of good faith and fair dealing by improperly wielding closures of the year-round fly-fishing lease under the guises of spawning and hunter safety. The nearby YZ Ranch on the South Fork of the White River offers some of the most spectacular trout and fly fishing in North America and is a key amenity for Elk Creek members. Elk Creek Ranch’s trial attorney Matthew C. Ferguson stated that he is “very happy that the jury recognized that YZ Ranch had weaponized the lease in response to the accounting claims and the verdict should send a strong message to Mr. Wheeler and his family to restore fly-fishing rights for this critical resource”. The Elk Creek owners will pursue additional injunctive relief, attorneys’ fees and costs in post-trial filings in the District Court for Rio Blanco County, Colorado, Case no. 2017CV30015.

The Matthew C. Ferguson Law Firm, P.C. is a civil litigation and trial firm based in Aspen, Colorado. http://www.matthewfergusonlaw.com

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