A couple whose Buttermilk home was ravaged by a mudslide in 2011 is suing three adjacent property owners, including the Aspen Skiing Co.
On May 16, 2011, landscapers saw the slide and alerted the caretaker of Andrew and Maralee Safir’s home in the tony Eagle Pines neighborhood near Tiehack. They filed suit Wednesday in Pitkin County District Court against the SkiCo, Redd Mountain Holdings, Inc., and Eagle Pines Lot 2 LLC, a company owned by local real estate agent Robert Ritchie.
The 4-foot-tall debris flow consisted of some 21,000 cubic feet of water, soil, rock and other material, the filing says.
A few days after the slide, Andrew Safir told the Aspen Daily News that it had hit his residence at an estimated 35 to 40 miles per hour, shattering windows and doors and leaving the residence uninhabitable.
The force of the waist-high mud broke through a sturdy fire door into his garage, flung a metal table up against a porch window, and tore up sprinkler heads and infrastructure.
A Pitkin County Sheriff’s deputy said in a report that she arrived soon after Kevin Haggerty, then the mountain manager of Buttermilk.
Haggerty “immediately hiked uphill from the property, located the area where the slide had originated, and dug a diversion from this location so the water and mud would flow back toward the face of Buttermilk, rather than down to West Tiehack Road,” the report says.
When Haggerty returned, he told the deputy that the slide originated from a point on the hill where excessive runoff had carved its own ditch. That ditch eventually became so saturated that its bank gave way and the hill slid, the report says.
The Safirs’ lawsuit, filed by Aspen attorney Tom Smith, says the defendants own property adjacent to theirs.
At the time of the slide, “surface water was being diverted by one or more of the defendants into an area on the Redd Mountain property where the debris flow originated ...,” Smith wrote.
The registered agent for Redd Mountain Holdings, Aspen attorney Gideon Kaufman, said he was not aware of the lawsuit and declined comment, as did Jeff Hanle, SkiCo’s spokesman. A message left with Ritchie was not returned.
The Safirs’ “causes of action” in the lawsuit include trespass, nuisance and negligence.
The couple seeks damages for, among other things, the reduction of value of their property, repairs to the home and property, storage of personal property during the repairs, loss of the use of the home, and rental costs for the “occupancy of like property,” Smith wrote.