ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The distance between John Elway’s general manager’s office at Broncos headquarters and Judge John Scipione’s courtroom is about 390 yards.
Elway, a scratch golfer, could knock the gavel out of Scipione’s hand with a big drive (and with the wind at his back, laser-like aim and a couple of lucky bounces).
September 2020 should be an exciting if disruptive month for the Broncos. On Monday, September 1, as Elway and Vic Fangio are preparing for their fourth preseason game and ensuing final roster cuts, Judge Scipione will begin the civil trial of Klemmer-Wallace vs. the trustees of the Pat D. Bowlen Trust in Arapahoe County Court.
A simmering issue behind the lawsuits is Beth Bowlen Wallace, Pat Bowlen’s second-oldest daughter from his first marriage to Sally Parker, wants to succeed her late father as the Broncos’ controlling owner. The trustees, meanwhile, have all but announced Brittany Bowlen – Pat Bowlen’s oldest daughter from his second marriage to Annabel – as their choice to one day assume command of the franchise.
Pat Bowlen was the Broncos’ owner from 1984 until he died June 13 following a long battle with Alzheimer’s.
Amie Klemmer is Beth Bowlen Wallace’s oldest sister and Pat Bowlen’s oldest daughter from his first marriage to Parker. Klemmer-Wallace filed three lawsuits against their father’s three trustees. The trustees are Joe Ellis, who also serves as the Broncos’ chief executive officer and president, Rich Slivka, the team’s general counsel, and Mary Kelly, Bowlen’s longtime family attorney.
9NEWS reported Friday that Judge Scipione set the civil trial to start September 1, while also issuing an order that consolidated the three Klemmer-Wallace lawsuits.
One trial fits all lawsuits.
"We asked the Court to consolidate the matters because we thought it would be more efficient to address them all together, so we obviously agree with the Court's decision to do so,'' Dan Reilly, the lead attorney representing the trustees, told 9NEWS on Saturday night. "The trial has been set to start September 1, 2020.''
From sources, 9NEWS has learned about the three petitions filed by Klemmer-Wallace against the trustees:
1. Klemmer-Wallace are claiming their father was incapacitated and received “undue influence” from the trustees in 2009 when he revoked his 2002 trust and then executed new estate planning documents for his 2009 trust.
According to a lawsuit filed by Bill Bowlen, Pat’s youngest brother, against the trustees, he claimed Pat Bowlen “was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s as far back as 2006 by doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona.”
A judge dismissed Bill Bowlen’s lawsuit after Pat Bowlen died.
Klemmer and Wallace have resumed the fight against their father’s trustees. The idea is if a judge agrees with Klemmer-Wallace that their father was incapacitated in 2009, or was unduly influenced, their father’s trust could become invalidated.
In September, Reilly issued a response to Klemmer-Wallace formally filing their lawsuits stating: “The evidence in the courtroom will show Pat Bowlen was fully capable of establishing and understanding his trust and estate plan when it was created in 2009.’’
2. Klemmer-Wallace are also contesting Slivka and Kelly as the personal representatives who serve as power of attorneys of their father’s will.
3. Klemmer-Wallace are objecting to Slivka and Kelly’s control on a Pat Bowlen insurance trust in regards to its financial distribution.
“These matters are suppressed and therefore I can’t get into details of the allegations,’’ Giovanni Ruscitti told 9NEWS on Saturday afternoon. “However, I can confirm these matters are set for trial in September 2020 and the matters have been consolidated.”
There have been periodic mudslinging between the two parties since Beth Bowlen Wallace hired a public relations firm to announce her intentions of taking charge of the Broncos on May 31, 2018.
The trustees, though, have been focusing on Brittany Bowlen as Pat Bowlen’s eventual successor. Brittany was brought back by the Broncos last month when she began working as vice president of strategic initiatives.
Come September 1, both sides can present their arguments about the capacity of Pat Bowlen – who in August was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame – to Judge Scipione.
Judge Scipione could decide otherwise but for now, the expectation is the trial will be held in an open courtroom although documents are to remain sealed.
At that same time, Elway and Fangio will be walking distance away, getting the 2020 Broncos ready for their season opener on September 13 or 14.
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