Toddys mystery deepens
ASPEN Angry ex-employees are engaged in a class-action lawsuit against former Oklahoma businessman Todd Fox, who has been linked to a start-up retailer in Aspen known as Toddys.Fox, who ran the auto-body repair empire FOX Collision, closed his shops unexpectedly last month, reportedly leaving hundreds of people out of work and without health insurance.A lawsuit recently was filed against Fox in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma by the law firm of Armstrong & Lowe. The suit seeks monetary damages and attorneys fees on behalf of more than 100 employees in the Tulsa area alone. Court documents claim the Tulsa-area employees combined to lose more than $10,000 in wages.In addition, according to a secretary at Armstrong & Lowe, lawyers from Kansas have called to say that Kansans who worked for FOX Collision are working on their own class-action suit. Fox also had businesses in Arkansas and Missouri.In Aspen, the owner of Toddys, a leather goods shop on the Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall, recently told The Aspen Times that while Fox is employed by Toddys as a consultant, he is not a stockholder or partner in the business.The owner, Ron Fesler, admitted when asked that he is Foxs cousin, and has said that the two were planning to open up a store such as Toddys. But when Fox got into financial trouble with the body-shops empire, Fesler said, Fox had to back away from the Toddys concept.As for stories of former employees left in fiscal dire straits, Fesler has maintained theyre not true.Numerous former FOX Collision employees, however, have contacted The Aspen Times to say that there were rumors at the FOX outlets for some time that Fox was planning to open an Aspen shop of some sort, and that he provided the money to finance the new enterprise.Some of those former workers also have told of being owed up to $4,000 in back pay.Fesler, contacted Monday, insisted that Fox does not have any money in the Toddys business. Not a dime, he said. He added that he is not worried that Foxs troubles might pose a problem for Toddys. No, its my business, and the one in Kansas is his, he said. The two have no ties.Fesler said the stories about FOX Collisions demise, and the publicity about Fox personally, has not hurt business in Aspen. He said the store has gotten what he called harassing phone calls from angry former FOX Collision employees. Those calls have upset Feslers employee, Megan Gilligan, who was a FOX Collision employee herself until recently. She has been working alone at the Aspen store this week, Fesler said.I feel something for the people [who lost their jobs,] he said, but Im not part of that business and I wish they wouldnt keep trying to drag me into it.Fesler said Fox has avoided making any statements to reporters on the advice of his attorney, but that he would be issuing an explanatory statement at some point.John Colson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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