On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that the owners of units in the building formerly known as Trump Place had voted to remove the name from the building. The building will now be known by its address, 200 Riverside Boulevard.
A 2000 licensing agreement with the Trump Organization allowed the use of President Trump’s name on the building. As political sentiments changed, community members wanted to remove the name. One resident stated she would not remain in the building with the Trump branding. While community members wanted to remove the name, the Trump Organization claimed the 2000 agreement prevented this removal. In response, the community sought a declaratory judgment. The court determined that the 2000 agreement required superluxury maintenance, but did not require use of the Trump name. With a substantial number of owners voting to remove the name, and no appeal of the court’s decision, the letters came off the building this month.
The use of declaratory relief in this case allowed the community to determine whether it had the right to remove the name without forcing the Trump Organization to file a lawsuit to stop the removal from happening. This offensive use of declaratory relief likely saved the homeowners substantial legal fees, and is a viable means of determining the rights and obligations between parties to a contract without first forcing a breach of that contract.
Colorado gives courts the power to declare the rights, status, and other legal relations between parties to a written instrument, which could include a contract with the declarant, the Declaration itself, or even a provision of CCIOA. Be careful, however, as all homeowners may have to be joined in as parties to a declaratory judgment action for the judgment to apply to everyone. These actions are not to be taken lightly, and you should consult carefully with legal counsel before asking a court for this extraordinary relief.