A hip, hop – and a hurt shin
ASPEN – A district judge has ordered a hip-hop artist to pay more than $22,000 in damages to a former Snowmass Village resident for leg injuries she suffered at a March 2009 concert at an Aspen nightclub.
Ninth Judicial District Judge Daniel Petre’s ruling, issued Friday, effectively ends a lawsuit filed in February 2010 by Aspen lawyer Jeff Wertz on behalf of Kristin Scharrer, now 30 and a California resident.
Filed in Pitkin County District Court, the suit claimed that rapper Lester Fernandez, 40 – better known as “Psycho Les” and one-half of the hip-hop duo the Beatnuts, known for their explicit lyrics and heavy beats – became “visibly intoxicated” on whiskey, cognac or “some other alcoholic beverage” during a March 18, 2009, performance at the popular Aspen club.
The Queens, N.Y., rapper was accused of making overtures toward Scharrer and trying to get her on stage. Scharrer did not reciprocate, the suit claimed, and “at one point later in the performance, which was probably after midnight, Fernandez grabbed Scharrer’s arm and forcefully attempted to pull Scharrer up onto the stage.” The result was an injured left shin for Scharrer and more than two years of litigation.
Because Fernandez failed to provide discovery and not defend the suit, Petre entered a default judgment against the rapper on July 19. A trial for damages took place Aug. 13 in Garfield County District Court.
In his four-page judgment, Petre noted that Scharrer initially thought she had been kicked but continued to stay at the show and didn’t learn until she returned home that there was a “gash in her left shin which was bleeding profusely.” She went to Aspen Valley Hospital, where she received six stitches.
The miscue left Scharrer with a light-pink scar, but there “is no evidence that lingering effects of the injury have limited Ms. Scharrer’s employment opportunities or recreational pursuits. … While there is occasional pain, the Court infers, from the lack of testimony to the contrary, that it can be treated with the same kinds of over-the-counter remedies as were recommended to her when she was discharged (from Aspen Valley Hospital).”
Petre’s judgment was broken down as follows:
• $1,798.50 for economic damages – That includes $480 Scharrer lost in wages from the five shifts she missed working the front desk of the Stonebridge Inn in Snowmass. Another $1,318.50 stemmed from the medical expenses she incurred from her hospital visit.
• $5,000 for pain and suffering – The judge noted that while Scharrer occasionally experiences pain from the injury, it hasn’t been severe enough for her to see a doctor.
• $10,000 for physical impairment and disfigurement – “The scarring, in particular, has made Ms. Scharrer self-conscious,” Petre wrote. “Furthermore, the scarring and numbness that she is experiencing are, for her, lifetime consequences of the wrongful act of Mr. Fernandez.”
• Petre said there was no evidence to suggest that Scharrer suffered a loss of enjoyment of life and did not award her damages for the claim.
• As of Aug. 17, with interest at 9 percent per annum, the judgment totaled $22,569.75.
Attorney Wertz has 15 days from the judgment date to file a bill of costs with the court.
“I have no qualms with the judge’s quantification of the damages,” said Wertz, whose suit said it sought more than $100,000 in damages. “Colorado doesn’t let you state the (exact) amount you seek, so I checked a box on the cover sheet indicating that the suit seeks more than $100,000. If you seek less than $100,000, you give up a lot of discovery tools that were necessary in this case.”
Belly Up was originally named as a defendant, as well. The nightclub had been accused of overserving Fernandez the night in question. Wertz eventually dropped Belly Up “because it would be difficult to prove they served Lester Fernandez alcohol after he was intoxicated. … We dropped them, and no money changed hands.”
Fernandez continues to perform with the Beatnuts. Their next Colorado appearance is scheduled for Oct. 10 in Denver.
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