Cattos sued over eviction
ASPEN – Elk Mountain Ranch’s former manager is suing the estate’s owner – a conglomeration of trusts and a foundation run by the Catto family – on allegations that he was wrongfully evicted and cannot retrieve items that belong to him.
Joseph Fredericks and his business, Infinite Alpine Landscapes Inc., are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in Pitkin County District Court.
The suit names as defendants the Denver-based Catto Charitable Foundation, the estate of Henry E. Catto and other Catto-related entities and individuals.
Henry Catto, a renowned American diplomat and vice chairman of The Aspen Institute, split his time between Aspen and his Woody Creek ranch before dying in December 2011.
Fredericks’ suit alleges that following Catto’s death, Elk Mountain Ranch’s ownership was transferred to the Catto Foundation. That August, the foundation’s board decided to put the ranch up for sale and replace Fredericks, the suit says.
Fredericks then began planning his move and reached an agreement to be off the property by Nov. 5, the suit says. But that date was pushed up to Nov. 2 because of property showings, the suit said.
Fredericks told the Cattos’ attorney, Thomas Todd, that he could not evacuate the property with all of his belongings – which included a large assortment of plants and rocks, among other items – before the new deadline, the suit alleged.
The accelerated time frame “created a substantial risk of danger to Mr. Fredericks,” the suit says. And on the night of Nov. 2, while he was moving his belongings, he rolled a front-loader off Little Woody Creek Road, breaking his femur.
Unable to move any more of his possessions, Fredericks later contacted Todd, the attorney, on Nov. 11 to see if he could make arrangements to retrieve his other belongings, the suit says. His request was denied, and the rocks and plants remain on the ranch, the suit claimed.
Among the suit’s claims for relief are breach of contract, civil theft, wrongful eviction, outrageous conduct, negligence, conspiracy and unjust enrichment.
Todd, reached at his Aspen office Friday, said the Catto defendants “won’t have a comment.”
Filed by the Aspen law firm Milligan Coughlin LLC, the suit seeks a jury trial and an unspecified amount in damages.
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