Aspen condo association sued over sewage backup |

Aspen condo association sued over sewage backup

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times

Ongoing litigation between the owners of an Aspen condominium and a homeowners association has now taken the form of a spat over sewage.

J. Lee Browning Belize Trust, controlled by Aspen residents John and Judi Francis, is suing the Aspen Mountain Condominium Association in Denver federal court. The suit, filed Wednesday, is the latest round of litigation between the parties. The Francis couple also has taken the association to Pitkin County District Court over disagreements concerning homeowners fees and other issues.

Ron Erickson, property manager and registered agent for the 11-unit, ski-in, ski-out condominium complex located at the base of Aspen Mountain, declined comment Friday.

The suit seeks at least $500,000 from the association and claims that the owners are having problems marketing it for sale because of unresolved sewage woes. The homeowners association has refused to reimburse the condo owners for the sewage damage to their unit and instead has blamed the tenants for the backups. The suit alleges the sewage problems originated in the complex’s common area.

The suit asks the court to enter an injunction requiring the condo association to repair the sewage system.

Sewage became problematic June 14, with waste being backed up into the condo and “rending the unit uninhabitable,” the suit says.

“The June 2014 sewage blockage and backup was the fourth such incident within the preceding several years,” the suit says, adding that last summer’s incident forced the owners to remove the carpet and flooring “as well as related and disgusting elements of damages arising from sewage backup.”

The suit says that because Aspen’s property market is driven by real estate agents, “Aspen brokers will not list property with substantial distressed circumstances.”

The suit says the condo unit is worth $1.1 million. The Pitkin County Assessor’s Office most recently appraised the two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo, which is 940 square feet, at $792,600.

Telluride attorney George Allen filed the lawsuit. He said the condo possibly could be sold in its current state, “but that would be something like 50 cents on the dollar.”

He said the condo owners and the association have had a “long and fairly contentious history.”