Craig v. Masterpiece Cakeshop, Inc.

Decision Date13 August 2015
Docket NumberCourt of Appeals No. 14CA1351
Parties Charlie CRAIG and David Mullins, Petitioners–Appellees, v. MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP, INC., and any successor entity, and Jack C. Phillips, Respondents–Appellants, and Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Appellee.
CourtColorado Court of Appeals

King & Greisen, LLP, Paula Greisen, Denver, Colorado; Mark Silverstein, Sara R. Neel, Denver, Colorado; Ria Tabacco Mar, New York, New York, for PetitionersAppellees

Jeremy D. Tedesco, Scottsdale, Arizona; Michael J. Norton, Natalie L. Decker, Greenwood Village, Colorado; Nicolle H. Martin, Lakewood, Colorado, for RespondentsAppellants

Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Stacy L. Worthington, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Appellee

Arnold & Porter LLP, Thomas W. Stoever, Jr., Holly A. Sterrett, Denver, Colorado, for Amicus Curiae National Center for Lesbian Rights

Ayesha N. Khan, Washington, D.C.; for Amicus Curiae Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Freedom From Religion Foundation

Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell, LLP, Craig R. May, Denver, Colorado, for Amicus Curiae Main Street Alliance, Hopscotch Bakery, and Gary's Auto Service; Mayer Brown LLP, Alex O. Kardon, Hannah Y.S. Chanoine, Rory K. Schneider, New York, New York; Mayer Brown, LLP, Richard B. Katskee, Washington, D.C.

Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP, Andrew C. Lillie, Jessica Black Livingston, Denver, Colorado, for Amici Curiae National Council of Jewish Women; Nehirim; People for the American Way Foundation; Reconciling Works; Lutherans For Full Participation; Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Jewish Reconstructionist Communities; Religious Institute, Inc.; Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Anti–Defamation League; Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice; Central Conference of American Rabbis; Global Justice Institute; Hadassah, Women's Zionist Organization of America; Japanese American Citizens League; Keshet; Metropolitan Community Churches; More Light Presbyterians; T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights; Union for Reform Judaism; Women of Reform Judaism; and Women's League for Conservative Judaism

Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber & Schreck, LLP, John V. McDermott, Richard B. Benenson, Lauren E. Schmidt, Denver, Colorado, for Amicus Curiae NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Reilly Pozner LLP, John M. McHugh, Anthony L. Giacomini, Denver, Colorado, for Amicus Curiae Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., One Colorado and One Colorado Educational Fund


¶ 1 This case juxtaposes the rights of complainants, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, under Colorado's public accommodations law to obtain a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex marriage against the rights of respondents, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Inc., and its owner, Jack C. Phillips, who contend that requiring them to provide such a wedding cake violates their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion.

¶ 2 This appeal arises from an administrative decision by appellee, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (Commission), which upheld the decision of an administrative law judge (ALJ), who ruled in favor of Craig and Mullins and against Masterpiece and Phillips on cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm the Commission's decision.

I. Background

¶ 3 In July 2012, Craig and Mullins visited Masterpiece, a bakery in Lakewood, Colorado, and requested that Phillips design and create a cake to celebrate their same-sex wedding. Phillips declined, telling them that he does not create wedding cakes for same-sex weddings because of his religious beliefs, but advising Craig and Mullins that he would be happy to make and sell them any other baked goods. Craig and Mullins promptly left Masterpiece without discussing with Phillips any details of their wedding cake. The following day, Craig's mother, Deborah Munn, called Phillips, who advised her that Masterpiece did not make wedding cakes for same-sex weddings because of his religious beliefs and because Colorado did not recognize same-sex marriages.

¶ 4 The ALJ found that Phillips has been a Christian for approximately thirty-five years and believes in Jesus Christ as his Lord and savior. Phillips believes that decorating cakes is a form of art, that he can honor God through his artistic talents, and that he would displease God by creating cakes for same-sex marriages.

¶ 5 Craig and Mullins had planned to marry in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriages were legal, and later celebrate with friends in Colorado, which at that time did not recognize same-sex marriages.1 See Colo. Const. art. 2, § 31

; § 14–2–104(1)(b), C.R.S. 2014.

¶ 6 Craig and Mullins later filed charges of discrimination with the Colorado Civil Rights Division (Division), alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation under the Colorado Anti–Discrimination Act (CADA), §§ 24–34–301

to –804, C.R.S.2014. After an investigation, the Division issued a notice of determination finding probable cause to credit the allegations of discrimination. Craig and Mullins then filed a formal complaint with the Office of Administrative Courts alleging that Masterpiece had discriminated against them in a place of public accommodation because of their sexual orientation in violation of section 24–34–601(2), C.R.S.2014.

¶ 7 The parties did not dispute any material facts. Masterpiece and Phillips admitted that the bakery is a place of public accommodation and that they refused to sell Craig and Mullins a cake because of their intent to engage in a same-sex marriage ceremony. After the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, the ALJ issued a lengthy written order finding in favor of Craig and Mullins.

¶ 8 The ALJ's order was affirmed by the Commission. The Commission's final cease and desist order required that Masterpiece (1) take remedial measures, including comprehensive staff training and alteration to the company's policies to ensure compliance with CADA; and (2) file quarterly compliance reports for two years with the Division describing the remedial measures taken to comply with CADA and documenting all patrons who are denied service and the reasons for the denial.

¶ 9 Masterpiece and Phillips now appeal the Commission's order.

II. Motion to Dismiss

¶ 10 At the outset, Phillips and Masterpiece contend that the ALJ and the Commission erred in denying two motions to dismiss which they filed pursuant to C.R.C.P. 12(b)(1), (2), and (5)

. We disagree.

B. First Motion to Dismiss—Lack of Jurisdiction Over Phillips

¶ 12 Phillips filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to C.R.C.P. 12(b)

alleging that the Commission lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate the charges against him.3 Specifically, he claimed that it lacked jurisdiction because Mullins named only "Masterpiece Cakeshop," and not Phillips personally, as the respondent in the initial charge of discrimination filed with the Commission.

¶ 13 The ALJ, applying the relation back doctrine of C.R.C.P. 15(c)

, denied the motion. He concluded that adding Phillips as a respondent to the formal complaint was permissible for several reasons. First, he noted that both the charge of discrimination and the formal complaint alleged identical conduct. He further noted that Phillips was aware from the beginning of the litigation that he was the person whose conduct was at issue. Finally, the ALJ found that Phillips should have known that, but for Mullins' oversight in not naming Phillips, he would have been named as a respondent in the charge of discrimination. We agree with the ALJ.

¶ 14 Although no Colorado appellate court has previously addressed this issue, we conclude that the omission of a party's name from a CADA charging document should be considered under the relation back doctrine.

¶ 15 C.R.C.P. 15(c)

, which is nearly identical to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c)(1)(C), contains three requirements which, if met, allow for a claim in an amended complaint against a new party to relate back to the filing of the original: (1) the claim must have arisen out of the same transaction or conduct set forth in the original complaint; (2) the new party must have received notice of the action within the period provided by law for commencing the action; and (3) the new party must have known or reasonably should have known that, "but for a mistake concerning the identity of the proper party, the action would have been brought against him." See S. Ute Indian Tribe v. King Consol. Ditch Co., 250 P.3d 1226, 1237 (Colo.2011) ; Lavarato v. Branney, 210 P.3d 485, 489 (Colo.App.2009). "Many courts have liberally construed [Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c)(1)(C) ] to find that amendments simply adding or dropping parties, as well as amendments that actually substitute defendants, fall within the ambit of the rule." 6 Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1498.2 (3d ed.1998) ; see also Goodman v. Praxair, Inc., 494 F.3d 458, 468 (4th Cir.2007).

¶ 16 Courts interpreting Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c)(1)(C)

have concluded that the pertinent question when amending any claim to add a new party is whether the party to be added, when viewed from the standpoint of a reasonably prudent person, should have expected that the original complaint might be altered to add the new party. See Schiavone v. Fortune, 477 U.S. 21, 31, 106 S.Ct. 2379, 91 L.Ed.2d 18 (1986) ("The linchpin is notice, and notice within the limitations period."); 6 Wright & Miller at § 1498.3 ("Relation back will be refused only if the court finds that there is no reason why the party to be added should have understood that it was not named due to mistake.").

¶ 17 Here, the ALJ properly found that the three requirements for application of the...

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