Baking soda Brit still seeks settlement
The man who was arrested and jailed in July for possession of baking soda had to leave the country, but has vowed to keep pressing his case for damages from local governments.
Brian Palmer went home to England in early September because his tourist visa expired, according to Aspen attorney Dennis Green. But Palmer is still trying to reach a monetary settlement with the city of Aspen, Pitkin County and the district attorney’s office.
Palmer claims he is owed at least $250,000 from the governments for unlawful incarceration for 20 days, loss of reputation, loss of about half of his vacation to the United States and loss of personal items.
He was arrested July 10 when Aspen police officers found him in an “unresponsive state.” Palmer was taken to the hospital where a white, powdery substance was found in his pocket.
A field test by Aspen police officer Bill Linn allegedly indicated the substance was cocaine. Palmer insisted it was baking soda that he was taking on a camping trip to clean dishes.
A test by the Colorado Bureau of Investigations eventually found the substance wasn’t cocaine.
In a notice of claim filed Aug. 16 on Palmer’s behalf by Green, the local governments were given until Aug. 26 to settle or be served with a lawsuit.
Green said Friday that he extended that deadline to Nov. 15 – giving the governments the 90-day notice they are entitled to under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act.
Green said the act may not apply because notice requirements aren’t required in cases of “willful and wanton conduct” against public employees. However, he said he is complying with the notice requirement to make sure a “technicality” doesn’t arise as a barrier to a potential lawsuit.
Green wouldn’t comment on whether he’s been contacted by the local governments. City attorney John Worcester told The Aspen Times last month that the notice of claim would be turned over to the city’s insurer.
“I can also guarantee they’re not going to give $250,000,” Worcester said at the time.
Green said Palmer is willing to return to Aspen for the lawsuit, if need be.
“He would have liked to have resolved this thing before he went back,” said Green. “If they’re not willing to deal with this through negotiations, we will file a lawsuit.
“The ball’s in the court of the governments on how they want to deal with this.”
Meanwhile the case has started to attract regional, national and even international attention. Green said he’s been contacted about Palmer’s case by a Denver television station, a Chicago radio station and a Los Angeles-based reporter for a London newspaper.
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