Castle Ridge fire defendant offers $8K settlement | AspenTimes.com

Castle Ridge fire defendant offers $8K settlement

Rick CarrollThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – One of a lawsuit’s two remaining defendants accused of starting a fire that gutted an Aspen apartment building in 2008 has made an $8,000 offer to settle the dispute.Brian Mooney’s law firm, Atkinson Boyle LLC, filed a brief earlier this month with the proposition.The offer comes after State Farm Fire and Casualty sued Mooney, Mitchell Rubin and Mark Janian in May 2010, alleging that the three ignited the fire by “improperly disposing of a lit cigarette” in a unit at Castle Ridge Apartments on June 11, 2008. The suit doesn’t say which man disposed of the cigarette.State Farm dismissed Rubin from the suit in March, noting that he “has concealed himself from this jurisdiction,” according to a court filing.That leaves Mooney and Janian, whose attorneys earlier this month argued that the potting soil in which the cigarette was left was hazardous and flammable. The soil’s dangerous contents were unknown to Mooney and Janian, who were “without proper or adequate warning concerning its flammable nature,” the filing says.The defense additionally contends the soil was placed on the balcony of the apartment unit by someone other than Janian and Mooney. The manufacturer of the soil, whose identity also is unknown, might also be liable for the fire “by providing an unusually dangerous and defective product and failing to provide adequate warnings concerning the product’s flammability,” wrote attorney William Boyle in a brief filed Dec. 12 in Pitkin County District Court.Boyle and another attorney representing the defendants, Brett Huff, of the Edgewater, Colo., firm Huff & Leslie LLP, did not return telephone messages last week.The fire destroyed the 10-unit apartment building, which housed local workers and was located on Doolittle Drive, near Aspen Valley Hospital. Seventeen residents were displaced because of the blaze, and one cat died of asphyxiation. No one was injured.The Aspen fire marshal determined that the blaze originated on the balcony of Unit 107 after a cigarette was left in potting soil. The cigarette apparently smoldered and sparked a fast-moving fire. The unit’s occupants weren’t home when the fire broke out at approximately 11:30 p.m.The building – No. 100B – was replaced in 2009 and has 10 units. rcarroll@aspentimes.com