Appeals court upholds $5.8M to Isis | AspenTimes.com

Appeals court upholds $5.8M to Isis

Janet Urquhart

The Colorado Court of Appeals has upheld a $5.8 million award to the owners of Aspen’s Isis Theatre in a ruling it issued Thursday.The court upheld a 2003 ruling by local district court Judge T. Peter Craven. He ordered Swedish company Svensk Filmindustri to pay damages for losses the theater owners incurred when the cinema’s former operator, Resort Theaters of America, broke its lease.The appeals court heard oral arguments from attorneys representing both sides on Sept. 13.The Isis had originally sought about $10 million in damages when the partnership that owned the theater sued Svensk in December 2000. Svensk had guaranteed the Isis lease with Resort Theaters of America, which folded its Aspen operation in late 2000 after declaring bankruptcy. The damages Craven awarded reflected the first five years of RTA’s lease payments to the Isis, plus lost rental income for the following 15 years.The damages are accruing interest at a rate of 8 percent.Aspen attorney Hugh Wise III, representing Svensk, said Thursday he does not yet know if his clients will contest the ruling.”It’s too early to decide what action is going to be taken with it,” he said. “Obviously, we’re disappointed with the result.”The theater’s owners, however, were pleased with the outcome.”Yes, we received the news and are very happy that Judge Craven’s decision was upheld by the appeals court,” Sam Houston, a partner in the theater, said Thursday.He credited the work of the Isis’ attorney, Jack Smith of Holland & Hart in Denver. “Justice is served,” Houston said.After a 2003 court trail, Craven also awarded the Isis owners $853,563 in attorneys fees and court costs. They are also entitled to recover costs incurred during the appeals process, the appeals court ruled.The court sent the Isis’ request for $66,608 in expert witness fees back to the trial court for additional proceedings.The Isis was a funky, old, one-screen theater before the Isis LLC partnership purchased the Hopkins Avenue property and redeveloped it as a state-of-the-art, five-screen cinema. The rebuilt Isis debuted in December 1999 and closed a year later, when RTA folded. It sat vacant until June 2002, when it was leased to a new theater operator.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com