Zona fight continues
The legal battle between Aspen landlord Harley Baldwin and one of the town’s biggest law firms is headed into overtime.Ninth Judicial District Court Judge J.E. DeVilbiss on Wednesday agreed that the trial would not be finished by its intended deadline, last night.There are still witnesses who have not testified, after which the five attorneys in the case will get their chances to give their closing arguments. Then the case will be turned over to the six-person jury.In agreeing to allow the Baldwin trial to go on “until it’s done,” DeVilbiss was forced to postpone another civil jury trial – Calentine vs. General Motors – that was scheduled to start this morning.The Baldwin trial has pitted Baldwin against the Garfield & Hecht law firm, which represented Baldwin until he fired them in 1996 over a dispute concerning one of Baldwin’s tenants, the store named Zona.According to the lawsuit, attorneys Ron Garfield and Andy Hecht and their firm – along with Zona founders Lou and Franci Sagar and the present owners of the Zona store, Dan and Amy Martineau – were involved in a conspiracy to steal Zona as a tenant.The store, which started business in Aspen as Baldwin’s tenant at 218 Mill St. in 1990, moved to the Elli’s building in 1996.The Martineaus took over management of Zona in 1995 and ultimately bought the store and the rights to the name. Elli’s is owned by The Centre of Aspen corporation, which is partly owned by the two attorneys, Garfield and Hecht.Baldwin is claiming that the attorneys, their firm and The Centre of Aspen knowingly enticed the Martineaus into breaking the lease on the original Zona premises at 218 Mill St. (the Collins Block building), costing Baldwin hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid rent and other damages.But, the defendants have argued, Baldwin’s lease for the original Zona premises was with the store’s originators, the Sagars, and does not even mention the Martineaus or the store, Zona, by name. So, because Zona was a store without a lease, the defendants claim, the Martineaus were free to cut a new deal at lower rent for the space at Elli’s.”We will try our best” to get the trial to the jury by Friday afternoon, said attorney Mike Mimm of Denver, representing Garfield & Hecht.
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