Civil case hangs over previous Krabloonik owner

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times

A federal judge allowed the suppression of former Krabloonik owner Dan MacEachen’s deposition in a personal-injury case because of concerns over how it may influence his upcoming animal-cruelty trial.

MacEachen, who had owned Krabloonik for 40 years, sold the Snowmass Village dog-sledding business earlier this month to Danny and Gina Phillips. But legal issues still hang over him, including a trial set for May in Pitkin County Court, where he faces eight misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty.

An unrelated civil case also is pending in the U.S. District Court in Denver, where Krabloonik is being sued for negligence and premises liability. The lawsuit stems from a Jan. 20, 2012, incident in which plaintiffs Harry and Melody Harden, of Charlotte, N.C., claim they were riding in a Krabloonik dogsled that crashed into a tree, resulting in them both being hospitalized.

The suit was filed in March 2013. On Dec. 17, Senior Judge Richard O. Matsch signed a protective order “for the confidentiality of certain information in this case,” which prohibits the release of MacEachen’s deposition, which was taken the same day.

MacEachen is not a defendant in the lawsuit, but Krabloonik attorneys filed a motion seeking to seal his deposition because of worries that publicity about it might taint the animal-cruelty trial.

“The misdemeanor criminal case has been the subject of media coverage in the Pitkin County area, and has received some statewide and national media coverage, as well,” the motion said. “Although the allegations in this case are largely unrelated to the issues in the criminal case, Krabloonik believes the media or other observers of the ongoing criminal case may seek to obtain copies of the depositions in this case.”

The motion goes on to say that if the deposition were public, “injecting such materials into the public forum where they may be used out of context and for purposes not intended by the parties to this case will subject Daniel MacEachen to annoyance and embarrassment.”

MacEachen’s law firm in the civil case, Denver-based Overturf, McGath & Hull PC, declined comment about the case.

The Harden couple contend that the crash happened during unsafe conditions “known to be dangerous for dog sledding.” They accuse Krabloonik of having “rookie inexperienced mushers” during “dangerous icy conditions” on the day of the accident.

“The dog sled occupied by Plaintiffs overturned at a high rate of speed throwing Plaintiffs into trees and causing Plaintiffs severe, permanent and debilitating injuries,” the suit says. The couple allege their medical bills were between $450,000 and $640,000.

MacEachen pleaded not guilty to the animal-cruelty charges in April. Prosecutors allege that eight dogs under his kennel’s care were either malnourished or required medical attention.


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