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February 20, 2013
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SourceGas moves to cut off public access to lawsuit

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Public access to a SourceGas lawsuit against Colorado Mountain College may soon be restricted, if District Judge James Boyd approves a motion to close certain parts of the file on the case.

The motion, filed by SourceGas on Feb. 12, asks the judge to approve a confidentiality and protection motion that would, in part, shut off public access to any files marked "Confidential" or "Attorney Eyes Only," according to documents on file at the 9th Judicial Court Clerk's office.

SourceGas, a natural gas distribution company, is suing the six-county CMC district over a decision by the college's board of trustees last year to invalidate a lease agreement allowing the company to use campus property.

The company had been planning to build a compressor station along its natural gas lines from Rifle to Avon, which pass through the CMC Spring Valley campus. The station is needed, the company said, to boost the pressure of natural gas heading for Eagle County.

A 20-year lease for a five-acre site for the compressor station was signed in 2011 by former CMC President Stan Jensen.

But the board of trustees, partly in response to an outcry among students, faculty and the community against the company's proposal, ruled in May 2012 that the 2011 lease document was invalid.

Shortly after the board's decision, SourceGas filed suit to get a judge to force the college district to allow the compressor station to be built.

Judge Boyd ruled in August 2012, however, that he could not force the college to reverse its decision. The suit now revolves around a battle over whether the company is due monetary damages.

The judge has not yet ruled on CMC's motion to dismiss the lawsuit, filed on June 21, 2012, or on the SourceGas proposal to close some aspects of the case to public review.

In the Feb. 12 motion, the company's attorneys wrote that confidentiality is needed to "protect against improper use or disclosure of confidential, proprietary, trade secret or commercially sensitive information" produced as an outcome of the lawsuit.

The motion cited CMC's refusal to turn over, as part of the discovery process of the lawsuit, a "separation agreement" concerning Jensen's December 2012 resignation from his job.

After the motion was filed, on Feb. 14, the college made the separation agreement public under pressure from lawyers working for Colorado Mountain News Media and the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

The SourceGas motion termed Jensen's separation agreement as "relevant" to the case, adding that review of the agreement "could lead to the discovery of admissible evidence" as the case moves forward.

There was no indication in the court files on Feb. 19 as to whether the language or intent of the motion would be affected by the public dissemination of the agreement.

Attempts to reach attorneys working for CMC and SourceGas were not successful on Tuesday.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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The Post Independent Updated Feb 20, 2013 01:23AM Published Feb 20, 2013 01:21AM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.