Landlord demands $100K from tenant in snake infestation case

Rick CarrollAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – The man who claims to own the rights to the sequel to “Easy Rider” has another sequel in the works, only this time it’s in Pitkin County District Court.Aspen landlord Philip Pitzer has filed court papers seeking more than $100,000 from a former tenant who sued him in small claims court in January. The tenant, Robert Zinn, alleged that snakes took over the Old Snowmass home he rented from Pitzer. Pitzer has fired back, alleging that Zinn’s comments in an Aspen Daily News article in January about the lawsuit, “have tainted the value of my property and damaged my reputation as a landlord.”Among Zinn’s statements were that he had to sometimes “get a knife out and cut [the snakes’] heads off.” His lawsuit also said: “I will not get into the stress of having to kill over 100 snakes. I tried to contact Phil several times to discuss this; however, my calls were never returned.”The nonpoisonous reptiles, Zinn said, would enter the cabin during the evenings through electric outlets and holes.Zinn’s suit seeks $6,000, and that’s why it was filed in small claims court, which has a $7,500 cap on damages. Zinn wants Pitzer to reimburse him for his last month’s rent of $3,000 and the $3,000 security deposit. Zinn said he left his cabin on Nov. 4, before his lease expired, but Pitzer won’t pay him back the $6,000 he believes he is owed.Pitzer, meanwhile, has trumped Zinn’s claim by seeking more than six figures and filed a motion last week to have it moved from small claims court to district court.Pitzer’s filing alleges that Zinn “never tendered a security deposit” and Zinn reneged on his promise to give him 60 days notice before he left. Additionally, Zinn didn’t clean the cabin when he left, Pitzer’s counterclaim alleges.Zinn, a semiretired attorney from Ohio, reportedly has received the backing of several partners to make a sequel to “Easy Rider,” though legal battles have stalled production.