A Denver judge has ordered the now-closed Coffee at the Point to pay $45,000 to The Flyfisher Group, a Five Points landlord whose litigious tactics rankled tenants.
During a 25-minute hearing Wednesday morning, Judge Stephanie Scoville heard a one-sided discussion of whether a settlement between Flyfisher and former Coffee at the Point owner Ryan Cobbins was reached last fall and, if so, whether it should be enforced.
Under Colorado law, companies must be represented by an attorney at court hearings. Coffee at the Point did not have an attorney — Cobbins said he could not “in good conscience” pay a lawyer to represent a closed coffee shop — and therefore could not be heard Wednesday. So, only Flyfisher attorney Joseph Sanchez made arguments before the judge.
Sanchez acknowledged that no written settlement exists between Coffee at the Point and Flyfisher, which is run by Matthew Burkett. But, he said, attorneys for the two sides drafted a settlement in November after speaking to their clients. Only then, after a settlement had been reached, did Cobbins renege and refuse to sign, according to Sanchez.
“It’s clear that it was the understanding of all legal counsel at the time that an agreement had been secured, was agreed to and was binding,” Sanchez told the judge.
Cobbins, unable to speak but still present at the virtual hearing, shook his head throughout Sanchez’s remarks, including when Sanchez claimed that Flyfisher could have made more money by taking the case to trial but instead chose a fair settlement.
In an interview after the hearing, Cobbins said he never agreed to a settlement.
“On Nov. 17, I sent a message to my attorney and I sent a text message to Matthew (Burkett) that says, ‘I’m not settling,’” he said. Sanchez said there was a settlement Nov. 22.
“I told Matthew I’m not settling, I told my attorney I’m not settling, and then several weeks later my attorney says, ‘Ryan, they’re going to file a motion to uphold this settlement agreement,’” Cobbins recalled by phone Wednesday. “So, I told my attorney, ‘There is no settlement agreement. What settlement agreement? Where’s the agreement?’”
Because Cobbins was unable to say that to Scoville, the judge referred to Sanchez’s claims that an agreement was reached in November 2022 as “unrebutted.” She went on to determine that a settlement was agreed to by the parties last fall and must be enforced.
“Now, I acknowledge that we do not have a signed document but a signed document is actually not necessary,” she said. “There can be an enforceable agreement without writing.”
Cobbins must now make monthly payments to Flyfisher, which are due on the fifth of each month. If he doesn’t, he will be ordered to pay the full amount, $45,042, at once.
Coffee at the Point, 710 E. 26th Ave., closed in July 2022, five months after it was sued by Flyfisher, which accused it of reneging on an investment agreement. Cobbins partly blames Burkett, a former friend who lives two blocks away from him in Five Points, for the shop’s closure. He and other Flyfisher tenants have accused Burkett of unfair dealing.
Last month, another former Flyfisher tenant that was sued by the landlord settled.
Get Busy Livin’ Studios, a creative arts company that opened in 2021 at 2736 Welton St., was accused by Flyfisher in March 2022 of defaulting on a $25,000 loan. GBL left the property after a year, moved to Montclair and settled the lawsuit for $15,000 on March 20.
Despite the way it ended Wednesday, Cobbins said he’s glad his case has come to a close.
“I’m a pretty optimistic guy but this has been emotionally draining,” the former shop owner said. “The excitement that I have today is that it’s over. That’s the last of the court case.”