Denson facing civil lawsuits
Just two months after being acquitted of murdering her boyfriend, local rancher Kathleen “Kathy” Denson will face the first of two civil lawsuits filed against her.
A district judge has ordered mediation this month between attorneys for Monica “Monique” Seebacher of Edwards, and Denson, 46, owner of both the 77-acre Draggin’ A Ranch – located between Eagle and Gypsum – and Designer Furs in Vail.
“The mediator just helps us see if we can reach a resolution,” said Frank Zlogar, Denson’s civil attorney.
District Judge Richard Hart has set an Oct. 22 telephone conference between Seebacher’s and Denson’s attorneys. The judge will not set a trial date until both sides complete mediation.
Seebacher, who worked for Denson for about 18 years in her fur stores in Vail and Aspen, filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Denson in January. Another part of the lawsuit seeks relief, citing Denson’s “outrageous conduct.” Seebacher was a store manager for Denson.
Denson terminated Seebacher’s employment on July 18, 2002, less than a month after she was arrested and charged for the death of her former boyfriend, Gerald “Cody” Boyd. At the time of the shooting, Boyd, 45, was living with Seebacher and was her boyfriend.
Denson also faces a wrongful death lawsuit filed in federal court by Boyd’s former wife, Debra Griffith, in the name of his 12-year-old daughter. Griffith is asking for about $366,000 – the maximum amount allowable under Colorado’s wrongful death statute.
In her lawsuit, Seebacher alleges that Denson terminated her job “to punish her for her relationship with Boyd.” She also alleges that in October, 2001, Boyd smashed all the windows of her car at Denson’s request.
“Seebacher’s allegations lack merit,” Zlogar said. “We denied everything. (Seebacher) isn’t owed anything.
“In August 2002, (Seebacher) demanded $200,000. We rejected her demand,” Zlogar said.
Seebacher’s attorney, Brian Popp, didn’t return calls.
Zlogar said he has proposed to use Denver’s Judicial Arbiter Group – formed by retired judges – but he hasn’t heard yet from Popp.
According to Zlogar, Denson couldn’t keep Seebacher employed because when the case started, former County Judge Terri Diem put a “non contact” order between Denson and Seebacher, the latter of whom was then a potential witness to the case.
The lawsuit, however, alleges that Seebacher’s termination “was contrary to public policy because it would allow defendants in criminal matters to benefit by discouraging employees from cooperating with law enforcement in criminal investigations.”
“Kathy (Denson) doesn’t think she owes her any money,” Zlogar added.
In August, an Eagle County jury acquitted Denson of second degree murder and manslaughter charges for the shooting death of her former boyfriend.
For nine days, the jury listened to a parade of witnesses who portrayed a five-year-long relationship between Denson and Boyd that included an ongoing love triangle with Seebacher, drug use, guns and money.
During the trial, Denson admitted shooting Boyd with a .44 black-powder pistol at her ranch on June 27, 2002. But Scott Robinson, Denson’s attorney, said in closing arguments that state law allows the use of force in self-defense.
Testimony included Seebacher’s, who said she had gone with Denson and Boyd to Mexico a month before the shooting. Seebacher also admitted trying to access Boyd’s bank account as soon as she learned he had been shot.
The outcome of the criminal trial could benefit Denson in the lawsuits against her, Robinson said.
Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.