The legal backlash of a dog’s attack on a woman more than four years ago put an Aspen company out of business and into bankruptcy this week.
Ajax Technology declared Chapter 7 on Tuesday in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Denver to stave off a court judgment of $369,948 it owes to an Aspen woman who was bit by a German shepherd in February 2016. The victim, Linda Hassall, was awarded the default judgment in November after Ajax failed to meet filing deadlines in the case.
“You spend seven years building up that company and now it’s all gone and I really blame the greed of the plaintiff,” Ajax Tech owner Magnus Grimmett said this week.
Grimmett is not personally responsible for the debt, G the IT company he founded is, as well as the person whose dog attacked Hassall.
In a lawsuit filed in April 2018 in Pitkin County District Court, Hassall pinned liability on Ajax Technologies and other defendants.
Hassall was dropping off some misplaced mail to the business when a German shepherd bit her unprovoked, injuring her wrist where she “suffered a loss of the usual enjoyment of her life and the social and recreational activities she used to enjoy as a result of the incident,” the suit alleged. The suit also says that the dog was put to sleep after the incident, though it was not clear whether the attack was the impetus for the euthanization.
Ajax Technologies countered in a response to the suit that the dog’s owner, Daniel Rave, who also was a defendant, was a contract worker for Ajax and had been told to not bring his dog to the business. Rave also had left the dog unattended at the time of the attack, said the response, which was filed pro se, meaning without an attorney.
Grimmett said he gave up on fighting the suit when he learned his costs for attorney and legal expenses could go into the six-figure range.
“It was unfortunate she was injured,” Grimmett said. “We were meant to be covered by liability insurance, G when they refused we tried to file an answer and we were quoted $100,000 by attorneys.”
The result was a default judgment issued Nov. 27 against Ajax Technologies. The judgment is suppressed because it contains sensitive medial information about Hassall, a court clerk said.
Ajax Technologies, however, has refused to pay any money toward the award, prompting Hassall’s legal team to pursue Grimmett for the money through a writ of garnishment, court records show.
“Multiple attempts have been made to serve Mr. Grimmett,” said a June 2 status update filed with the court by attorney Michael Fox of the Kalamaya|Goscha law firm. “However, he avoids service. Service has been slower based on the COVID-19 crisis. Once service is complete, we expect Mr. Grimmett to answer the Writ of Garnishment.”
Grimmett was ultimately served June 30 G still didn’t answer the writ, leading Judge Ann Nordin to issue another default judgment against Ajax.
Media questions provided to Fox and Kalamaya|Goscha on Wednesday went unanswered through Thursday. The firm also has a legal action against Grimmett and his ex-wife in Garfield County on a related matter, according to court records.
Ajax Technologies’ most recent address was 420 E. Main St. Its bankruptcy petition lists its assets between $50,001 and $100,000, and its liabilities between $100,001 and $500,000.
Defendants Pyramid Property Advisors and North Mill Street Investors previously settled with Hassall for undisclosed terms.