North of Nell

A judge has ruled against Thomas Daly, the developer of the North of Nell condo complex at the base of Aspen Mountain, after he sued the homeowner’s association in 2016 for banning him.

A judge last month barred the man who developed the North of Nell condominium complex at the base of Aspen Mountain from serving on the property’s board of directors for three years and ordered him to have no contact with any of its employees, citing his history of threats and anti-Semitic and sexist comments.

The 59-page ruling by Judge Anne Norrdin of the 9th Judicial District lays bare a litany of unseemly behavior by Thomas Daly, who developed the North of Nell in 1968. The property contains street-level commercial units and three floors of residences.

Daly sued fellow members of the North of Nell’s homeowner’s association in 2016, alleging the HOA board had violated its bylaws by suspending him from board meetings and excluding him when members met in executive session. The HOA countered with a 34-page answer to the lawsuit that included counterclaims.

After an 11-day trial, Judge Norrdin on April 9 mostly ruled in the HOA’s favor.

“At trial, the association sought to present evidence about events and circumstances dating back to, in some instances, the mid-1990s,” the judge wrote in a findings of fact and conclusions of law filing.

The HOA contended that Daly’s actions “created a workplace in which valuable employees, board members and agents feel harassed, threatened and unsafe,” says a portion of the counterclaim. “Employees report loss of sleep and distress, fear for their livelihoods, and have threatened to quit.”

These accusations are detailed more in the judge’s ruling. Joe Raczak, North of Nell’s general manager, was handling an exterior remodel of the property in 2008, but “Daly entered the job site and handed the construction manager … a handwritten note on North of Nell stationary with directions to change the scope of the contractor’s work,” Judge Norrdin wrote. “The work to be done on that particular day involved a time-sensitive concrete pour.”

As the construction officials discussed this proposed change, Daly became “aggressive and accusatory,” the judge wrote, citing witness testimony. This included him threatening to “beat the s---” out of one of the contractors and telling him that he and his firm might never work in Aspen again.

Raczak testified during the trial that Daly repeatedly made anti-Semitic references to the HOA’s controller, who had worked for the organization for 20 years.

He said during the trial that “Daly referred to her as the ‘Jewish girl,’ did not know her name, and would not address her directly,” the judge wrote. “Razcak, who himself is married to a Jewish person, felt offended by the manner in which Daly spoke to and about” the controller.

Razcak “also testified that Daly had stated on occasion that there were ‘too many Jewish people’ in Aspen,” the judge’s filing says. “Razcak recounted that Daly made comments about African-Americans as ‘lazy’ …”

Another North of Nell employee testified that he heard Daly make similar comments “about Hispanic people as ‘lazy,’ ‘felons,’ and ‘drug dealers,’ racist comments about former President Obama … and comments about the Holocaust that [the employee] found offensive.”

Daly on Friday called the allegations a “bunch of baloney.”

“That never happened,” he said. “There’s two sides you get, I was outnumbered, I was by myself. There’s a bunch of people on the other side, renting out their units, and like a lot of things it’s all about money. I didn’t say anything bad about anybody.”

Daly also repeatedly referred to an employee as “Becky,” which isn’t her name, and called her the “pretty blond-haired girl at the front desk,” the judge wrote.

Judge Norrdin, responding to the HOA’s counterclaims, ruled that Daly will be removed as a board member for three years.

“The court finds that the [HOA] will suffer irreparable harm if Daly is not enjoined from engaging in conduct such as that described by … witnesses,” she wrote. “In particular, if Daly is permitted to continue to make statements about minorities, women or religiously disparaging statements, [the HOA] could suffer irreparable reputational harm.”

The ruling awarded the HOA just over $5,000 for a breach-of-covenants claim.

Chad is a Contributing Editor for Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at chad@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @chad_the_scribe.