Silvertree sues former president | AspenTimes.com
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Silvertree sues former president

Chad Abraham

The owners of the Silvertree Hotel in Snowmass Village are suing the hotel’s former president and one of the town’s most recognizable names.Bill Burwell is being sued by Silvertree Hotels of Snowmass LLP for nearly $500,000. The lawsuit says he failed to make interest payments on a promissory note he signed with the hotel partnership in 1996. The company also says he has violated a buy-sell agreement and that it is entitled to buy his stake in the partnership.The Silvertree partnership runs its namesake hotel along with the Wildwood Hotel and Village Property Management. Burwell is former president and general manager of all three entities. The outspoken former Snowmass Village resident, who now lives in Aspen, also was president of the Snowmass Homeowners Association, served on the resort association’s board and was a key sponsor in Jazz Aspen Snowmass.The lawsuit says he failed to make yearly payments of $117,113 to the partnership in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000 for the promissory note.”[He] has failed to pay any portion of the principal due … under the four installment payments” since October 2002, the suit alleges.The note allowed Burwell to buy a limited partnership stake in Silvertree Hotels. The buy-sell agreement for the note says Silvertree Hotels can buy out Burwell’s stake if he were to be fired, which he was in December 2002, according to the lawsuit.”To date, [Burwell] has refused to … transfer his partnership interest to [Silvertree Hotels] or any of the remaining partners, and [he] is in breach of his obligations under the buy-sell agreement,” the lawsuit says.The lawsuit was filed March 16 in Denver District Court, but both sides agreed to move the suit to Pitkin County.Burwell’s lawyer, Ron Fano of Denver, said the legal proceedings are still in their infancy.”We have not answered [the lawsuit] yet,” he said. “We’re formulating [a response] right now. That’ll be coming shortly, and then the lawsuit will really get going and the issues will be framed by both sides.”Fano said his client is open to negotiating with Silvertree Hotels. “When things go to trial, lawyers are the only ones who win,” he said. “There haven’t been any settlement discussions; it’s just far too early. The other side doesn’t even know our position yet.”Burwell did not return a message Monday. In his motion for a change of venue, he says that “on April 4, 2005, I was personally served with a summons and complaint filed by Silvertree Hotels of Snowmass Limited Partnership and Silvertree Hotel Inc.”The court document says Burwell was president of the Silvertree Hotel for 17 years.Silvertree Hotels can no longer allow Burwell “to continue as a limited partner” because such a relationship would interfere with its management and control of the business, the lawsuit says.”Plaintiffs are entitled to an order from the court directing [Burwell] to execute and deliver the … assignment of his buy-sell agreement to” the hotel group, the lawsuit contends. It adds that the defendant would be compensated for the partnership stake.A message left with a Silvertree Hotels lawyer was not answered yesterday. The partnership is seeking the $400,000 balance of the promissory note, plus interest and attorney fees.The plaintiffs are seeking a jury trial. Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is chad@aspentimes.com


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