The embattled cosmetic company that operates two stores in Aspen and has been the subject of numerous police complaints and litigation by former customers is suing a Durango couple that’s seeking roughly $600,000 in damages through their own lawsuit.
California-based Aspen Retail Management, which runs Luxe Skin Spa and Aspen Beauty Boutique on the pedestrian malls, filed a lawsuit against Dean and Kim Reeves on Tuesday in Pitkin County District Court.
The Reeves alleged they were pressured into buying $22,000 worth of makeup products and claimed store employees might have drugged them through glasses of champagne. They and a plaintiff in a separate lawsuit prevailed after ARM failed to answer the filings in a timely fashion or provide a reasonable excuse for why it did not respond to the litigation, a judge ruled in March. Combined, the plaintiffs are seeking $1.2 million in damages and legal fees from default judgments. Those cases last week were ordered into mediation.
In the latest legal salvo, ARM claims the Reeves’ lawsuit “is rife with untruths, wild accusations, and flat-out perjurious statements,” and that the couple’s attorney, Chris Bryan of Aspen, “commenced an aggressive media smear campaign against the plaintiff within the city of Aspen.”
ARM’s lawyer, David Beitchman of California, wrote that his client has suffered damages in excess of $1.5 million. He wrote a bullet-point style of refutations to the Reeves’ allegations.
For instance, where the Reeves said they were provided champagne they say might have been drugged, Beitchman responded that staff at the store, then called Aspen Kristals Cosmetics, serves only an alcohol-free sparkling beverage. He cites footage of the couple taken by the store’s “state-of-the-art” video and audio security system.
While the Reeves claimed the drink made them confused to the point where they were unable to say no to the supposed high-pressure sales tactics, Beitchman wrote that the video shows them maintaining “complete composure and control”; that they made no effort to escape the store; and remained engaged and interactive through the entire sales process. The couple never expressed anything about being concerned or feeling trapped, ARM’s lawsuit says.
“In fact, the defendants were left alone for extended periods throughout their visit to the store,” Beitchman wrote. “Before leaving the store, [Kim Reeves turned] back to hug the female salesperson.”
Dean Reeves thoroughly examined the receipt he was given, with an employee reiterating what he was about to be charged, and freely handed over a credit card, the filing says.
“During the second transaction, [Dean Reeves] is actually … heard asking, ‘How much is it?’ The salesperson responds, ‘If you want one set for both of you, 20.’ Dean confirms, ‘Twenty thousand?’ Salesperson responds, ‘Yes,’” the lawsuit says, adding Dean Reeves again inspected the receipt that showed the total charge.
Dean Reeves, “a certified public accountant, was the person solely responsible for reviewing and paying the invoices,” Beitchman wrote. He also never drank any of the sparkling beverage but only a couple of sips from the store’s water cooler.
Bryan on Thursday called ARM’s lawsuit against his clients frivolous. The filing “is the cosmetic store’s obvious and desperate attempt to retaliate against customers it has victimized,” he said. “The suit has no merit and fails as a matter of law.”
Beitchman took aim at Bryan for how the previous lawsuits were handled.
He wrote that Bryan and his clients refused to watch the store’s video and instead made “further monetary demands of ARM.” The lawsuit contains a claim of abuse of process.
“Despite being provided with incontrovertible proof that, in fact, the allegations in the [lawsuit] are patently false, the defendants are continuing to avail themselves wrongfully, and in violation of law, to the processes of this court, including by continuing to pursue the … default judgment,” Beitchman wrote.
The lawsuit also highlights a June 10 story in the Aspen Daily News about damages totaling $1.2 million sought by the Reeves and the plaintiff in the other lawsuit against ARM.
“In response to the newspaper headline, Mr. Bryan dispatched a subsequent written demand, for a fraction of what was reported in the newspaper article,” Beitchman wrote. Also on June 10, he wrote that he emailed Bryan to tell him the store’s video “confirmed his clients had committed perjury …” The goal of the Reeves’ lawsuit is “to strongarm and extort money from ARM to compensate themselves for their overspending at ARM’s store.”
Two other lawsuits against ARM with similar allegations remain pending in Pitkin County Court.