ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — The hearing for the civil lawsuit filed by the two oldest daughters of late Broncos owner Pat Bowlen that contests their father’s mental capacity at the time his final trust was executed has been re-scheduled for July 12, 2021 in Arapahoe County Court.
Judge John E. Scipione has set aside five weeks for the trial.
The trial had initially been set to begin Sept. 1, 2020 but was delayed because parties agreed the trial could not be conducted in-person in light of Colorado’s COVID-19 restrictions and Judge Scipione did not feel comfortable using WebX technology.
Pat Bowlen was the Broncos’ owner from the time he bought the team in March 1984 until he was declared mentally incapacitated with Alzheimer’s in December 2013, at which point the team’s ownership was placed in the Pat Bowlen Trust. Joe Ellis, Rich Slivka and Mary Kelly are the trustees of Pat Bowlen’s estate. Ellis is also the Broncos’ chief executive officer and president, Slivka is the team’s long-serving general counsel, and Kelly had long served as the Bowlen family attorney.
Bowlen’s two oldest daughters from his first marriage, Amie Bowlen Klemmer and Beth Bowlen Wallace, petitioned the Arapahoe County District Court and Judge Scipione to have the Pat Bowlen Trust invalidated on grounds their father lacked the mental capacity to sign his estate-planning documents in 2009. Bowlen died at the age of 75 in June 2019 from complications of Alzheimer’s.
The petition lists their late father’s trustees Ellis, Slivka and Kelly as the defendants.
The Bowlen daughters are represented by attorney Giovanni Riscitti and the trustees by Dan Reilly.
Beth Bowlen Wallace publicly announced on May 31, 2018 her desire to become controlling owner of the Broncos while the trustees have instead let it be known that her half-sister, Brittany Bowlen, is the preferred child to one day sit in her father’s chair at the team’s UCHealth Training Center headquarters. Brittany Bowlen currently works for the Broncos as Vice President of Strategic Initiatives.
Bill Bowlen, Pat Bowlen’s younger brother, filed a lawsuit in October 2018 asking the three trustees be removed. That lawsuit was dismissed 11 months later, in August 2019, after Pat Bowlen died. Less than three weeks later, Bowlen-Klemmer and Bowlen-Wallace filed suit in Arapahoe County challenging their father’s capacity at the time his final estate trust was executed in 2009.
As a practical matter, the Broncos aren't expected to proceed with transfer of ownership -- either to a child or an investor -- while the Pat Bowlen Trust is being challenged. Legally, they could ask a judge to proceed with transfer. But its unlikely any transaction would be binding until the matter is resolved.
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