Judge awards nearly $6 million to Isis owners
The owners of Aspen’s Isis Theater have been awarded $5.8 million in damages for losses they incurred when the cinema’s former operator, Resort Theaters of America, broke its lease.Svensk Filmindustri, a Swedish company that had guaranteed the lease, owes the Isis partners $5,833,183, according to a judgment issued last month by Judge T. Peter Craven in district court.The Isis partners were also awarded the reimbursement of attorneys fees – a sum that has yet to be determined, and about $131,000 in additional damages that accrued daily between April 2 and June 16 – from the conclusion of a two-day trial on the damage claims to the date of Craven’s ruling.Hugh Wise III, the Aspen attorney representing Svensk, said Friday his client will appeal the judgment.”We’re pleased that the judge only gave them about half of what they were originally seeking. Nonetheless, we’re going to appeal it,” he said. “They got only about half of what they were after – we’re pleased with that, but not with the result.”Although the seven-member Isis LLC originally sought about $10 million in damages when the partnership sued Svensk Filmindustri in December 2000, Craven’s decision constitutes a win for the Isis, according to attorney Jack Smith of Holland & Hart in Denver, representing the Isis.”This is a very significant victory for the Isis, no doubt about it,” he said.Oddly, neither party in the case was aware the judge had ruled in the Isis LLC’s favor until Smith was contacted by The Aspen Times late last week. Craven’s ruling had been entered into the case’s voluminous court file, but copies of the decision hadn’t been forwarded to the attorneys involved.Typically, parties have 15 days after a judgment is issued to file motions asking the judge to reconsider. Since that period has already lapsed, Smith guessed the judge would allow the clock to start from the day the parties were notified of his decision.After the period for post-judgment motions has passed, there will be a 15-day period in which to submit requests for attorneys fees. Smith declined to estimate what the Isis partners could recoup in legal costs, but said, “I can tell you it’s substantial.”Under Colorado law, the Isis owners are also entitled to 8 percent interest on the damage award from the day the judgment is entered until the payment is made, Smith said.Local real estate broker Heidi Houston, one of the Isis’ owners, declined to comment last week except to relay the message that the partners are “delighted” through a spokesperson in her office.In a judgment issued in April, Craven initially awarded the Isis’ owners $2.5 million in future lost rent, accrued after RTA pulled out of the Isis in late 2000. He directed both parties to recalculate other damages. The $5.8 million, which includes the initial award of $2.5 million, was what the Isis team requested, along with $1,731 per day following the trial, which Craven also awarded.After a trial last year, Craven ruled that Svensk was liable for unpaid rents and other costs. The actual damages were the focus of the two-day trial held in April.The Isis owners leased the Hopkins Avenue movie house to RTA after redeveloping what was a funky, old, one-screen theater into a state-of-the-art, five-screen cinema. The rebuilt Isis debuted in December 1999 and closed a year later, when RTA folded its Aspen operation after declaring bankruptcy.The Isis sat vacant until June 2002, when Idaho-based Rocky Mountain Resort Cinemas reopened the theater after negotiating a lease with the owners.The Isis owners put the theater building on the market in May 2001 for $13.3 million. It remains for sale with a current list price of $7.9 million.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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