Two civil suits against Denson dismissed
But Denson, 46, owner of Designer Furs in Vail and the 77-acre Draggin’ A Ranch, located between Eagle and Gypsum, still 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.
The two dismissed lawsuits were filed in January 2003 by Monica “Monique” Seebacher, a former employee of Denson, who also was a witness in the murder trial.
Seebacher, who worked about 18 years for Denson in her fur stores in Vail and Aspen, filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Denson in January. The second lawsuit sought relief citing Denson’s “outrageous conduct.”
Denson terminated Seebacher’s employment on July 18, 2002, less than a month after she was arrested and charged in Boyd’s death. At the time of the shooting, Boyd, 45, was living with Seebacher and was her boyfriend.
In her lawsuit, Seebacher alleged that Denson terminated her job “to punish her for her relationship with Boyd.” She also alleged that in October 2001 Boyd smashed all the windows of her car at Denson’s request.
On Oct. 16, Seebacher asked the Eagle County District Court to dismiss the outrageous conduct claim. Seebacher, who lives in Edwards, later withdrew her wrongful termination claim during mediation in Denver, said Frank Zlogar, Denson’s Denver-based attorney.
“Ms. Seebacher withdrew her claims because they had no merit,” Zlogar said.
In her claims, Seebacher demanded about $200,000, Zlogar said.
“I’ve never had any doubts that Ms. Denson would win the criminal case and the civil wrongful termination case,” Zlogar said.
Speaking on Griffith’s behalf, Elizabeth DelCogliano, a friend of the family, said they will continue pursuing the wrongful death lawsuit. The next hearing is Feb. 2, she said.
“We haven’t dropped the case,” DelCogliano said. “Anything that had to be filed has been filed.”
During the 10-day-trial, Denson admitted shooting Boyd with a .44 black-powder pistol at her ranch June 27, 2002. But Scott Robinson, Denson’s attorney, said in closing arguments that state law allows the use of force in self-defense.
Zlogar said Denson has a strong case in the wrongful death suit.
“His family has no right to collect any compensations,” Zlogar said.
But DelCogliano said that’s not what happened in the O.J. Simpson trial, who was acquitted of murdering his wife and lover but lost the civil lawsuit brought by his wife’s parents.
“Many people can be acquitted in a criminal case, but more information can be presented at the civil case and that can change things,” DelCogiano said. “This will be an active case until the court decides otherwise.”
In August, an Eagle County jury acquitted Denson of second degree murder and manslaughter charges in Boyd’s shooting death.
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 – drugs, guns and money.
Testimony included Seebacher’s, who said she had gone with Denson and Boyd to Mexico a month before the shooting. Seebacher also admitted to having tried to access Boyd’s bank account as soon as she learned he had been shot.
Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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