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Annabel Bowlen enters Denver Broncos’ ownership dispute

Annabel Bowlen, right, filed a motion Dec. 12 in Arapahoe County District Court to intervene in the litigation involving The Pat Bowlen Trust and Bill

Annabel Bowlen, right, filed a motion Dec. 12 in Arapahoe County District Court to intervene in the litigation involving The Pat Bowlen Trust and Bill Bowlen. (John Leyba / The Denver Post)

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ENGLEWOOD — The wife of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen has entered the dispute between her husband’s trustees and his brother, Bill Bowlen.

In Arapahoe County District Court on Dec. 12, Annabel Bowlen, through her attorney, filed a motion to intervene in the litigation involving The Pat Bowlen Trust and Bill Bowlen.

Annabel Bowlen’s involvement begins nearly six months after Beth Bowlen Wallace declared her desire to be the Broncos’ next controlling owner and nearly two months after Bill Bowlen filed a lawsuit requesting the trustees be removed from power.

So what is Annabel’s goal with the request?

“Mrs. Bowlen is a beneficiary of the Patrick D. Bowlen Trust and she believes that the trustees have done a good job managing the Trust’s assets,” said Annabel Bowlen’s attorney, Hugh Gottschalk, president of the law firm Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell, in a statement to The Denver Post. “Her goal is to be able to participate in the lawsuit that Bill Bowlen filed that is attempting to remove the trustees.”

Bill Bowlen’s contention is that trustees Joe Ellis (the Broncos’ president/CEO), Rich Slivka (team counsel) and Mary Kelly (a Denver attorney) “wield almost total control over the Broncos … with no accountability. … Over the past 15 years, I’ve noticed that the operation of the Broncos has deteriorated while my brother’s health has worsened.”

There can be two ways to look at Annabel Bowlen’s motion to intervene.

Not a big deal: Since she is not joining legal forces with the trustees, she is merely requesting a seat at the table, which would allow Gottschalk to attend closed-door negotiations and legal proceedings and allow him to have access to the files presented by both sides if the dispute reaches the discovery stage.

A semi-big deal: As a beneficiary of trust, Annabel declaring approval for how the trustees have performed their duties since being installed by Pat Bowlen in July 2014 is certainly notable.

If Bill Bowlen’s lawyers oppose Annabel Bowlen’s motion, her legal team would respond and Judge Charles Pratt could make a decision next month.

Aside from announcing her Alzheimer’s diagnosis on June 27, Annabel Bowlen had stayed out of the dispute. It is unknown if her health would allow her to testify if the Bill Bowlen-Trustees dispute goes to trial.

The Bowlen Ownership Saga began May 31 when Bowlen Wallace, 48, one of two children from Pat’s first marriage, said she was “ready right now,” to replace her father and presented the trustees with a transition plan that included Brittany Bowlen, 28, one of Pat and Annabel’s five children.

The trustees responded swiftly to Bowlen Wallace’s request, saying she was “not capable or qualified at this time.” Bill Bowlen supports his niece’s candidacy to be the next controlling owner.

On Oct. 20, Brittany Bowlen announced that she has “ambitions and goals to one day be the controlling owner,” of the Broncos. She is believed to have the support of the trustees, once she rejoins the organization, to eventually replace her father after a transition period.

Since Bill Bowlen filed his lawsuit, his legal team (led by Giovanni Ruscitti) and the trustees’ lead lawyer (Dan Reilly, who is Kelly’s husband) have traded filings.

On Nov. 23, the trustees requested a stay in Bill Bowlen’s lawsuit while requesting that Bowlen Wallace and her sister, Amie Bowlen Klemmer enter into arbitration with the NFL. Bowlen Wallace and Bowlen Klemmer are not a part of their uncle’s lawsuit.

Two weeks later, on Dec. 8, Bill Bowlen’s lawyers filed an objection to the stay request, asserting that a stay would “prejudice” his case and that the court should not be compelled to delay his trial while waiting for the NFL to decide if it will serve as an arbitrator.

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