Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has settled his lawsuit against Comcast Cable and two subcontractors over what he alleged was a botched installation job at his mansion above Snowmass Village.
Abramovich, who has a net worth of $11 billion and is a confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin, sued Comcast and Sage Telecommunications in April, alleging the companies failed to get permits for a fiber-optic project at the home on Wildcat Ridge and destroyed parts of a pristine forest that is protected by a conservation easement. He later added Grand Junction-based TelTech Communications, which Sage apparently hired, as another defendant.
Comcast and Sage countered that it was Abramovich’s property manager who erred when it came to deciding where cable lines should have been located in 2016. The project, aimed at improving reception, involved heavy equipment, including bulldozers, said the lawsuit, which contained claims of trespass and negligence.
Abramovich claimed the contractors failed to get permits required by Pitkin County and the town of Snowmass (officials with both governments said they were unaware of the project). The lawsuit also said the defendants failed to investigate the scope or location of utilities easements.
The heavy equipment was brought onto property that belongs to the Ziegler family and the Aspen Valley Land Trust, which has a conservation easement in the area, the lawsuit says.
“A portion of the cable laid by the contractors was laid not on the Abramovich property but on the property of others, without authorization,” wrote Abramovich’s attorney, Brad Schacht of Denver. “The contractors’ unauthorized intrusions destroyed substantial tracts of pristine alpine forest, much of which was within a conservation easement. … A substantial portion of the damage caused by the trespasses was not even near the location of the fiber-optic cable laid, but was on a ridge used by the contractors for their own convenience, without regard for the forest or interests of other property owners.”
Abramovich, who paid $36 million in 2008 for the 11-bedroom, 14,000-square-foot home near the top of the Rim Trail, allegedly spent $500,000 repairing the damage.
But the defendants in August filed a designation of a non-party to the lawsuit, contending the property manager was in charge of overseeing the project and “negligently selected the location where the … cable line was to be installed.”
The Jan. 25 motion to dismiss in Pitkin County District Court, stipulated by all of the parties, was done with prejudice, meaning Abramovich can not bring a lawsuit against the defendants for similar claims.
“The parties have reached a compromise and settlement of all claims that have been or could have been asserted between them in this action,” the filing says, adding that each party is to pay its own attorney fees.
Schacht said Wednesday that he was not authorized by his client to speak about the case, including details of the settlement. A lawyer for the defendants, Jessica Schultz of Denver, did not return a message seeking comment.