Breckenridge man stunned by former maid’s ‘slanderous’ lawsuit demanding $75,000
December 5, 2017
The lawsuit against Herbert Tabak was filed in federal court on Monday, but he said he didn't even know about it until he got a call from a reporter on Tuesday afternoon.
Tabak's former house cleaner, Nereida Mendez-Arango, had accused him of encouraging her to invest $50,000 in a phony business and falsifying tax documents in her name, according to a civil complaint filed on Monday, Dec. 4.
Tabak, who is 80 years old, said he was astounded to learn he was being sued for such a large amount based on what he described as a raft of baseless allegations he had never even seen before.
"This is beyond my comprehension as to why she would do something like this," he said after being contacted by the Summit Daily. "I'm stunned."
The civil suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Denver, demands at least $75,000 in damages from Tabak and his company, Summit Strategic Business Services, claiming he "preyed on, and took advantage of, Ms. Mendez's inexperience with, and unfamiliarity of, sophisticated and complex business matters."
After reviewing a copy of the lawsuit provided by The Daily, Tabak was even more perplexed. He said he had never been contacted by an attorney, served with court documents or even received a demand letter.
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"This is unbelievable," he said. "I thought attorneys were supposed to do some due diligence before filing a lawsuit. Everything in there is wrong. This is just not right."
Mendez-Arango's attorney, Samantha Pryor of Denver's Halliburton Law Firm, did not return a voicemail left at her office Tuesday.
Mendez-Arango, who cleaned Herbert Tabak's Breckenridge home from 2006 to 2014 but now lives in California, accuses Tabak of "egregious acts of fraud" for convincing her to buy stake in a nonexistent company and refusing to return her money.
The suit claims Tabak approached her about investing $50,000 in his company, Global Wellness Resources, in September 2015. He then allegedly presented Mendez-Arango with forms outlining the sale but later asked her to sign a different document listing Pure Life, a newly formed company, as the buyer.
The lawsuit construes Pure Life as a subsidiary of Summit Strategic Business Services, seeming to allege a bait-and-switch.
Tabak vehemently denied that account, saying Mendez-Arango asked him to form Pure Life on her behalf so she could invest in Global Wellness, a Denver business that eventually folded before it got started. It was no different than routine work he had done for hundreds of other people setting up shop in Colorado, he said.
According to the lawsuit, Mendez-Arango eventually inquired about the investment and asked Tabak where Global Wellness was located, but he never followed through on promises to send her the address. Tabak denies that claim as well.
"Ms. Mendez continued asking questions about the status of Global Wellness and its operations and whether Global Wellness was profitable," the suit reads. "Mr. Tabak would respond with excuses and material false representations."
Tabak said the company, which was trying to open a store in Denver, wasn't his, although he had formed an LLC called Global Wellness to put some of his own money into the venture.
Tabak said Mendez-Arango discovered the company, which made water purifiers, at a wellness expo in Denver. She then wanted to put some of her money into a planned store on Colorado Avenue.
Mendez-Arango's suit also claims that Tabak did her taxes in 2016 and fraudulently listed $22,910 in income from Global Wellness.
Tabak, however, said he didn't even prepare Mendez-Arango's taxes that year, although he had in the past as a courtesy.
By Tuesday evening, Tabak was still bewildered by the lawsuit, saying it was an ill-conceived shakedown. He said he was considering filing a counter-suit but also felt Mendez-Arango's claims would wither quickly when faced with his version of events.
"These allegations are just slanderous," he said.