Crowns out of lawsuit |

Crowns out of lawsuit

Staff report

Aspen Skiing Co. managing partner Jim Crown and his wife, Paula, were dismissed Tuesday as defendants in a lawsuit filed by former ski instructor Lee Mulcahy.

Pitkin County District Judge Daniel Petre ruled that the Crowns aren’t liable for any debt, obligation or liability of Skico because it is a limited-liability company.

Mulcahy alleged that Skico is an alter ego of the Crowns, in a legal sense. He filed a lawsuit against Skico and the Crowns alleging they violated his free speech. Mulcahy claimed he was fired as a top ski instructor when he encouraged his colleagues to form a union. Skico claimed he was fired for violations of policy and conduct detrimental to the company.

Mulcahy was suspended as a ski instructor on Dec. 30, 2010, and banned from Skico’s four ski mountains and all other property after he handed out leaflets promoting unionization of Skico employees and criticizing the company pay structure. Mulcahy was fired Jan. 27, 2011.

In the legal wrangling over the Crowns’ inclusion in the lawsuit, Mulcahy alleged that Skico has threatened to fire any employees who speak out against the firm. He said the action by the Crowns and Skico “chills the protected free speech of their 3,500 employees.”

Petre dismissed the claims.

“Assuming for purposes of this motion that such assertions are true, they do not establish that the Crowns used (Skico) to perpetrate a fraud upon Mulcahy or to defeat a rightful claim,” his order said.

“To the extent that Mulcahy is alleging that (Skico) has engaged in wrongful activity against others, he lacks standing to use such conduct as a basis to pursue his own personal claim against (Skico) and the Crowns.”

Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan was previously released from the lawsuit as a personal defendant. The lawsuit remains active against Skico as a corporate entity.

Mulcahy is seeking a judgment that Skico cannot ban him from its property. He wants $1 awarded in punitive damages, plus legal fees and costs.

Mulcahy said Wednesday that he is frustrated that the legal system is established in a way that “it won’t hold the financial and political elite accountable” for their alleged actions.