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Property sale leads to lawsuit

Aspen Times Staff Report

A group of investors known as Babs, Limited Liability Corp. is suing Aspenite Dick Butera and three other entities for allegedly selling them a piece of property near the Aspen Club that did not belong to Butera, according to court documents.

The civil lawsuit, filed Friday in Pitkin County District Court, charges Butera with negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract and breach of warranty. Babs also alleges similar charges against Butera’s co-defendants, Fidelity National Title Insurance Co. and Aspen Club International (LLC and INC.).

In 1996, according to the lawsuit, Butera approached several of the plaintiffs – who would later form Babs, LLC, including Barbara Fleck of Aspen, Dennis Nickson of Texas, and Warner Brothers-John A. Schulman of California – and informed them that he planned to develop lot 14A of the Callahan Subdivision, a property adjacent to properties owned by the plaintiffs, according to the suit.

“Knowing that those members would pay to keep their privacy, Butera first offered to sell to those members, for $175,000, the northerly loop of Centennial Circle, which runs directly in front of those members’ properties.”

Butera then offered to sell the portion of the road, as well as lot 14A, for $1.5 million, which Babs later agreed to buy in July 1997, the lawsuit claims.

Problems with the transaction arose in December 1998, when a local couple filed a lawsuit against Babs, claiming that they had a right to use the portion of Centennial Circle in question, according to the lawsuit. Babs then learned that Centennial Circle did not belong to Butera, but rather to the Aspen Club Group (ACG).

“Defendant Butera knew [or should have known] that ACG owned the road,” the suit states. “Butera was therefore negligent … .”

Neither Butera nor Harry Shulman, attorney for Babs, could be reached for comment Tuesday.


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