Attempted class-action lawsuits targeting three Aspen companies fizzle out
Three Aspen-based companies hit with unrelated complaints in Denver federal court about their business practices are no longer on the defense.
Quiet settlements in three attempted class-action lawsuits have been reached over the past two months, according to court records. The most recent dismissal, recorded Aug. 17, involved Aspen Anesthesia, which had been sued under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Potential class-actions against Aspen Skiing Co., accused of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, and marijuana shop Roots RX, sued under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, were respectively dismissed June 25 and July 26.
Among all of the dismissals, two common denominators were that details of the settlement agreements were not made public in the case files and the parties on both sides in each suit voluntarily and jointly agreed to their terminations.
In the Skico case, the June settlement meant the nixing of a pretrial conference scheduled the same month in Colorado federal court. Douglas County resident David Katt had accused the ski-area operator of having a website that was inaccessible to blind users, which included the plaintiff. His suit, filed in August 2020, alleged Skico violated the ADA by not making its website compatible with screen-reading software “that vocalizes the visual information found on a computer screen or displays the content on a refreshable Braille display.”
Skico attorneys countered in court filings, and cited previous circuit court decisions supporting their argument, that Katt’s claim was not legitimate because he had failed to demonstrate how the company’s website actually denied him access to the company’s services. Katt also was a “serial filer” with multiple ADA website cases against companies he did not patronize, Skico attorneys argued.
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In their June court filing, both parties “agreed to a dismissal with prejudice, with each party to bear its own costs and attorneys’ fees. By the filing of this Stipulation, the above-captioned civil action is deemed resolved and the case shall be closed.” A case dismissed with prejudice cannot be filed again.
The Roots RX suit settled with hardly any arguments publicly exchanged. In that case, Miami resident Kathryn Potter — both “individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated” — sued on the contention that she was repeatedly receiving unwanted, promotional text messages from the pot shop, despite her pleas to the company to stop. The suit was filed April 19, and Roots RX never got a chance to file a formal response because a settlement was reached June 21 and the case was dismissed July 26, according to court documents.
Attorneys on both sides did not respond to messages seeking comment about the settlement. Since the lawsuit’s filing, however, Roots has ceased use of its advertorial text-messaging service.
“Each party shall bear their own respective costs and attorneys’ fees. This Stipulation for Dismissal disposes of the entire actions,” said the joint stipulation of dismissal.
Likewise in the Aspen Anesthesia case, “the parties hereby stipulate and agreed to dismiss with prejudice the entire action against all parties,” said last week’s filing.
Rafael Navarro of Carbondale used a California firm to sue the practice on accusations that it ran afoul of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act when the wrong billing party was identified in a fifth and final notice demanding payment of $3,150.
Counsel for Aspen Anesthesia in court filings argued that it was being targeted simply over a clerical error committed by a third-party billing agency.
“Aspen Anesthesia is an anesthesiology practice, not a debt collecting business,” said a motion to dismiss the case filed June 17. “The principal purpose of Aspen Anesthesia is to provide critical medical services to a remote community. The medical practice’s staff are focused entirely on providing care to their patients. They do not have collateral duties — much less primary duties — related to collecting debts for other people or businesses.”
Attorneys for both sides in the dispute did not respond to messages seeking comment.
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