Aspen developer, ex-girlfriend settle lawsuit | AspenTimes.com

Aspen developer, ex-girlfriend settle lawsuit

Aspen developer Nikos Hecht and his ex-girlfriend have agreed to confidentially settle her lawsuit against him, her lawyer said Friday.

At the same time, Hecht filed suit Friday against a New Jersey insurance company claiming it wrongfully refused to cover his expenses in the lawsuit after he purchased a $35 million policy in September 2014, and forced him to use his own money to settle it.

Jennifer Altman, a Florida attorney and one of several lawyers representing Brooke Warfel, confirmed the settlement and said the case was to be dismissed Friday. However, she said she could not discuss the settlement because it was confidential.

"I can't talk about it," she said. "I have no comment."

A phone message left for one of Hecht's attorneys in Denver who worked on the Warfel suit and filed the lawsuit Friday against the insurance company was not returned Friday.

Warfel filed the lawsuit in March 2016, about a month after Hecht pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment in a domestic violence case from August 2015 involving Warfel. She alleged in the suit that Hecht physically and mentally abused her, turned her into a drug addict and manipulated her into having two abortions.

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Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely sentenced Hecht to two years' probation in February 2016 in the domestic violence case.

Further versions of Warfel's complaint against Hecht — filed in a third amended complaint in June — alleged that Hecht drugged her with fentanyl patches but told her they were "Icy Hot patches." The two sides were fighting in dueling motions about the fentanyl issue this month before U.S. Magistrate Kristin Mix noted Tuesday in online court filings that the two parties had indicated they had settled.

In the lawsuit filed Friday against the Great Northern Insurance Co. — a subsidiary of Chubb Limited — Hecht claims he bought a policy Sept. 26, 2014 that included personal liability coverage of $500,000 as well as an "excess policy" that provided $35 million in liability coverage.

The lawsuit references the criminal domestic violence proceedings involving Hecht and Warfel — which resulted in Hecht's two-year probation sentence — and says that in "connection with those proceedings it became clear that Ms. Warfel's goal was to obtain a substantial civil settlement from Mr. Hecht."

During a hearing in that case, the prosecutor handling it told Judge Fernandez-Ely that Aspen lawyer David Bovino — another lawyer representing Warfel — asked the prosecutor to drop the case if a monetary settlement could be reached, according to Hecht's lawsuit against the insurance company.

"Mr. Hecht refused Mr. Bovino's demand that he pay Ms. Warfel millions of dollars in exchange for the dropping of all criminal charges," the lawsuit states.

Bovino did not return a phone call seeking comment Friday.

Soon after, Hecht submitted Warfel's lawsuit to the insurance company, which declined to cover it in June 2016, according to the suit. A month later, Chubb Limited refused to renew Hecht's policies.

Prior to that, Hecht "paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in premiums" for the Chubb policies, the suit states.

"Abandoned by Chubb, and denied the benefits he was promised when he purchased (the policy), Mr. Hecht was forced to use his personal assets to fund his defense in the Warfel lawsuit," the suit states. "Mr. Hecht also used his personal assets to resolve the Warfel lawsuit because Chubb denied him access to the $35 million in personal liability coverage he purchased."

The settlement with Warfel this week "fully and finally resolved the claims Ms. Warfel brought against Mr. Hecht," the lawsuit states.

"Chubb's bad faith breach of contract caused Mr. Hecht significant economic damages in an amount to be proven at trial," according to the lawsuit.

Hecht is seeking damages in the amount of twice the insurance policy — $71 million — plus his attorneys' fees and costs, the lawsuit states.

jauslander@aspentimes.com

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