Court dismisses Aspen Art Museum from suit over assault
December 10, 2007
ASPEN ” The Aspen Art Museum has been dismissed from a lawsuit levied by a local cab driver who claims he was assaulted by an intoxicated passenger after he left a party in July at the museum.
Local attorney Jeff Wertz, who is representing Paul Nesvat, a High Mountain Taxi driver, filed a motion on Nov. 12 to dismiss the museum from the lawsuit.
Nesvat accused the museum of serving too much alcohol to Talton. Also named as defendants were two unidentified individuals ” possibly bartenders ” who were thought to have served alcohol to Talton.
Wertz dismissed the museum from the suit because the party’s organizer, Tony DiLucia, filed an affidavit testifying that the alleged attacker, Brooks Mims Talton III, was not served alcohol during the party.
“From the moment he arrived at the party, Mr. Talton appeared visibly intoxicated,” DiLucia wrote in the Oct. 10 affidavit. “At no point did I see Mr. Talton served any alcohol while in attendance at the party. Because he was intoxicated, a cab was called for Mr. Talton so that he could be taken home. The cab arrived, he was placed in the cab, and the cab drove away. He did not return to the party.”
Nesvat filed the lawsuit in Pitkin County District Court in September, alleging Talton, an Oklahoma City oil executive, punched him and stole his cab on July 29.
The gathering was in celebration of DiLucia, who was the general manager of Aspen’s Hotel Jerome for 20 years. The museum leased its space to the DiLucia group, which was not affiliated with the facility and only was renting it as a party venue.
“I have no reason not to believe Mr. DiLucia, so I agreed to dismiss,” Wertz said.
Brad Ross-Shannon, a Denver-based attorney who was defending the museum on behalf of its insurance company, Travelers, wasn’t available for comment.
Counsel for Talton responded on Nov. 7 by stating that Talton doesn’t recall drinking at the museum and he doesn’t think he was served there, according to court documents.
Talton was arrested a few hours after the party began in the late afternoon. He faces charges of motor-vehicle theft, driving under the influence and misdemeanor assault. He was released from jail on a $4,000 bond, and has not yet been tried in criminal court.
Shortly after 8 p.m. on July 29, Nesvat was called to the party to pick up Talton and take him to a private home on Castle Creek Road. After Nesvat picked up Talton and the two were passing by Aspen Valley Hospital, Talton began punching Nesvat in the head and face, according to the complaint.
Unable to deflect many of the punches while he was driving, Nesvat stopped the taxi and fled on foot, according to the complaint.
Talton then proceeded to drive away in the cab up Castle Creek Road by himself, leaving Nesvat in the road. Nesvat called 911, and, within a few minutes, Talton was stopped by police and was arrested, according to the complaint.
Nesvat was treated for injuries to the head and nose at AVH.
Talton’s Oklahoma-based attorney, Josh Welch, told the Times in September that his client will rigorously defend the allegations and has no intention of paying a large sum of money to Nesvat.
“Because there is a criminal proceeding, I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment on the specific facts of the case,” he said. “But we’re not about to pay a bunch of money for no damages.”
Talton, who has frequented Aspen for years, is the CEO and president of Compressco, an Oklahoma City oil and gas exploration company. He also is the founder and president of GJ Measurement LLC., which Compressco acquired in October 1999.
Nesvat seeks unspecified damages and a jury trial. The complaint asks for relief for battery and outrageous conduct.