Glenwood business owners arrested over lawsuit by Snowmass hotel
In a highly unusual development, the owners of a Glenwood Springs heating and air conditioning business were arrested Wednesday because they repeatedly ignored court orders in a civil lawsuit brought by the Snowmass Westin Resort.
New Castle residents Brett and Terri Ferguson, owners of Western Slope Mechanical Co., were arrested Wednesday by Garfield County deputies and transported to the Pitkin County Jail, according to Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office records. The couple appeared Thursday morning in front of Pitkin County District Judge Chris Seldin and answered questions about the current state of their assets, according to a lawyer involved in the case.
The Westin sued the Fergusons a year ago after paying $128,000 to Western Mechanical for the purchase and installation of boilers and pumps at the hotel, according to the lawsuit. That installation never happened, said Joe Krabacher, an Aspen attorney representing the Westin. In fact, the couple never ordered the boilers and spent the money, he said.
The Fergusons were served with the Westin lawsuit in February 2016, but did not respond to the allegations or appear in court to address it, according to court documents. So in July, Seldin entered a judgment of $383,844 against them, an amount three times the original claim plus the Westin’s attorney’s fees, according to Krabacher and court documents.
Seldin then ordered the Fergusons to appear in court to answer questions about their assets and how the judgment might be paid, but they never showed up or responded, Krabacher said. Though he was not legally required to do so, Seldin gave the Fergusons a second chance to show up in court, but again they declined, he said.
Their no-show prompted Seldin to issue an arrest warrant for the couple Dec. 21.
Arrest warrants are rarely issued in civil cases. It occurs about once a year in Pitkin County District Court, according to a court clerk. Krabacher said it was the first time he’d seen it in 35 years of practicing law.
Brett Ferguson, 51, told Seldin on Thursday the couple was in the process of losing a bar they own in New Castle, were being evicted from their home and planned to file bankruptcy, Krabacher said. He also said the couple thought documents detailing their assets had already been filed in the case, he said.
The Fergusons do not appear to have an attorney, according to court records, and a phone message left Thursday at Western Mechanical was not returned.
After answering the asset questions Thursday, Brett Ferguson was released from custody on a $100 personal recognizance bond, Krabacher said.
Terri Ferguson, 47, remained in custody, however, because the Mesa County Court also had issued a bench warrant in a civil case against Western Mechanical brought by Alsco, a uniform and linen rental company, according to Krabacher and court records. A judge has issued a $7,026 judgment in that case, court records state. Terri Ferguson and Western Mechanical were the only named defendants in that case.
The Snowmass Westin eventually installed new boilers in the hotel, which were purchased from another company, Krabacher said. The hotel essentially paid for the equipment twice, he said.
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