Fired Aspen ski instructor files libel suit against Skico exec
ASPEN – A little more than a year after getting fired by Aspen Skiing Co., former ski instructor Lee Mulcahy is suing Skico CEO Mike Kaplan for libel.
Mulcahy, an artist, is representing himself despite no apparent training as a lawyer. He filed the lawsuit in Pitkin County District Court alleging that Kaplan libeled him with comments in a letter to the editor published in The Aspen Times and Aspen Daily News after Mulcahy was fired on Jan. 31, 2011.
“The CEO of the Skico published the false statements with both knowledge and reckless disregard of their falsity,” the lawsuit claimed.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday and made available to the public by the court clerk on Thursday.
Kaplan’s letter, which ran in the newspapers in February 2011, alleged that Mulcahy took a class of young girls from the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club out of bounds and used abusive language toward them the previous season, prompting a disciplinary action.
In April 2010, Mulcahy allegedly charged a private lesson to a customer’s credit card without authorization, according to Kaplan’s letter.
In the lawsuit, Mulcahy said that allegation is “both false and defamatory.” Skico possessed emails from the client for booking the lesson and authorizing the charge, he claimed.
Mulcahy also claimed in the lawsuit that he never used abusive language with the ski club girls.
“The plaintiff was damaged in his reputation,” the lawsuit said. “As a result of the Defendant’s statements, the Plaintiff has been deprived of his livelihood, subjected to great humiliation and mental anguish and subjected to other damages from ‘the company that owns the company town,'” Mulcahy said in his lawsuit.
Mulcahy contended that Kaplan’s conduct demonstrates “malice, willfulness, evil motive or intent and reckless or callous indifference to the protected rights of Plaintiff.”
He said he suffered damages – including loss of reputation, shame, mortification and injury to his feelings – in an amount exceeding $15,000. He is seeking an amount of damages to be proven at trial, legal costs and punitive damages to be determined.
Kaplan declined comment, according to Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle. “Mike is unaware of any lawsuit and therefore has nothing to say,” Hanle said.
Even if Kaplan had a copy of the lawsuit, Hanle said, he wouldn’t comment on a pending legal matter.
Mulcahy also filed a lawsuit in Pitkin County Court naming the Aspen Art Museum and director Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson as defendants, according to the court clerk. That lawsuit wasn’t available to the public Thursday.
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