Business Monday: Aspen store, shoppers in back-and-forth legal spat
Attorneys for a network of downtown Aspen stores embroiled in litigation over their sales tactics believe they have exonerating video evidence in one lawsuit, but not if the opposing counsel has a say.
That opposing counsel, Chris Bryan, has filed multiple suits against Aspen Retail — the owner of cosmetics shops in the Hyman Avenue outdoor mall, as well as one on East Cooper Avenue.
The suits accuse the stores of violating the Colorado Consumer Protection Act by bullying shoppers, using misleading and pushy sales tactics, and in the instance of a Durango couple, saucing up their customers.
The husband and wife, Dean and Kim Reeves, claim that sales clerks at was then known as Aspen Kristals Cosmetics, on Cooper Avenue, served them spiked Champagne and rang them up for $21,860 in sales, while the couple understood the grand total would be closer to $700. In a lawsuit they filed in December, the couple alleges they were disoriented and lacked the proper facilities to make such a purchase.
Attorneys for Aspen Retail Management LLC, which is owned by a California company and runs the stores, have argued store video surveillance exonerates their client from the alleged incident from July 13, 2018.
Aspen Retail, claiming it has been damaged to the tune of more than $1.5 million, sued the Reeveses on June 25 in Pitkin County District Court, claiming their lawsuit is “rife with untruths, wild accusations, and flat out perjurious statements.” The suit also claims the Reeveses and Bryan commenced “an aggressive media smear campaign against Plaintiff within the city of Aspen.”
Aspen Retail’s suit said audio and video evidence from the visit, which lasted 1 hour and 16 minutes, “confirms in fact the falsity of the claims, and the perjury committed by defendants Kim and Dean (Reeves) in filing, advancing and continue to advance such claims.”
On Wednesday, Bryan filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The motion argues the civil complaint “appears to be brought in order to try to intimidate the Reeveses from attempting to vindicate their rights as consumers” while also avoiding to pay the Reeves a default judgment in the original case.
The video surveillance has been a point of contention for nearly one month.
Attorneys for Aspen Retail say on June 10 they let Bryan know about the video in advance of a hearing where Judge Anne Norrdin was supposed to rule on the amount in damages awarded to Reeveses and another plaintiff, who received default judgments after Aspen Retail didn’t promptly to reply the December lawsuits.
The Reeves were seeking $600,000, but that hearing ended up being whether Norrdin would allow the video evidence. She continued the damages hearing until July 31, and will have the video surveillance as well.
In the motion to dismiss, Bryan argues that Aspen Retail violated discovery rules by trying to introduce the video evidence after a default judgment had been made. Aspen Retail also cannot carry out a separate lawsuit regarding the same dispute, Bryan’s motion argued.
Encino, California, attorney David Beitchman is lead counsel for Aspen Retail in the matter.