Six-figure settlement over dog bite comes 6 1/2 years after attack at Aspen business

Dog-bite victim receives $225,000 settlement over 6 years after attack

A dog-bite victim’s attempts to collect an unpaid six-figure judgment in her favor has resulted in parties agreeing to a settlement of $225,000, according to filings in the U.S. District Court of Denver.

The victim of the attack, former Aspenite and current midvalley resident Linda Hassall, expressed relief on Wednesday the matter was nearing an end after languishing in the court system for more than four and a half years — after she suffered the attack over six years ago.

“It’s unfortunate that this happened,” she said, “and it happened when I went to work one day, and I was just doing my job. I didn’t promote this or provoke it. I was just doing my job.”

One day in February 2016, Hassall visited Ajax Technologies to drop off some mis-delivered mail. She worked in the same building where Ajax Technologies was located at the time, 555 N. Mill St. Once she entered the business, an unattended German shepherd attacked her, injuring her wrist, she said.

“The dog was a bad egg, and it just happened that I walked in there, and, literally, the dog looked at me and jumped at me,” said Hassall, speaking publicly for the first time about the incident. She underwent multiple medical procedures, and “my hand is still affected by it,” she said. The dog was euthanized after the attack, according to court pleadings.

The legal saga started routinely enough in April 2018, when Hassall filed a personal-injury suit seeking monetary damages from Ajax Technologies and other defendants in Pitkin County District Court. She later reached out-of-court settlements with two other defendants, and claims against the dog’s owner, who was a contract worker for Ajax Technologies and later moved to another state, were eventually dismissed. The essence of her complaint against Ajax Technologies was that it should be held responsible for the attack under premises liability laws.

Yet, getting the attention of the now-defunct Ajax Technologies, which was owned by Magnus Grimmett, proved difficult for Hassall’s lawyers. She won a default judgment of $369,948 in November 2019. But, after not receiving any money, she filed a collection suit against the company in August 2020.

The next month, Ajax Technologies declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Denver, which effectively paused Hassall’s collection case. The company’s bankruptcy petition listed its liabilities between $100,000 and $500,000. The amount due her accounted for nearly 75% of the company’s debts if valued on the high end at $500,000.

Grimmett and his wife, however, were named in an adversary complaint filed in October 2021 by the trustee assigned to oversee the bankruptcy case, Jared Walters. The complaint accused the two of committing civil fraud when they transferred more that $1.2 million from Ajax Technologies for their own personal use from 2017 through July 2020, as well as using the company to enrich themselves personally by receiving $60,000 in SBA disaster-relief funds.

The complaint also alleged that in January 2018, Grimmett and his wife transferred the ownership of their $1 million Carbondale home into the name of a limited liability company called Bazzaminty Holdings, which they established in August 2017. The two had been on notice since September 2016 that Hassall would be suing them, according to the adversary complaint.

“In an apparent further effort to distance themselves personally from third-party claims, Grimmett and DeSimone again doubled down, transferring their million dollar residence in Carbondale, Colorado, to BazzaMinty, which was formed for no other legitimate business purpose than to hinder, delay and defraud the debtor and its creditors,” said the complaint.

In a January filing this year, Grimmett’s lawyers countered, “The Trustee has not alleged facts plausibly showing Mr. Grimmett took a thing of value from Ajax Technologies with specific intent to permanently deprive Ajax Technologies of its use. As a purported basis for this claim, the Trustee relies on a disaster relief loan obtained by Mr. Grimmett for Ajax Technologies in early June 2020, during the initial wave of nationwide impacts resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. Less than three months later, Mr. Grimmett petitioned for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on behalf of Ajax Technologies. The Trustee contends that merely by transferring most of the proceeds of the SBA disaster relief loan to a different bank account, Mr. Grimmett committed civil theft against his own company.”

The adversary complaint wasn’t ruled upon by a judge, however, after the parties were able to reach a deal from mediation sessions, according to court documents.

Under the settlement agreement, Grimmett committed to making an $80,000 down payment to the bankruptcy trustee, followed by 12 monthly payments of $5,000, and a final payment of $85,000, based on the settlement agreement, which is part of the bankruptcy case file.

The Grimmett couple’s house in Carbondale is being used as collateral to secure the debt to Hasssall, according to the agreement.  

“Overall, the Settlement Agreement is fair and reasonable and in the best interest of the estate and creditors for purposes of approval under,” wrote Theodore Hartl, the lawyer representing the bankruptcy trustee in his adversary proceeding.

The adversary case was dismissed Sept. 12, and the bankruptcy case remains open, according to court records.

Calls to phone numbers listed under Grimmett’s name were not answered Thursday. His law firm also did not respond to a message.