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Ski resort trial not certain, Canyons operator says

Published November 23, 2012 10:27 am

Courts • Operator of Canyons contends Park City Mountain Resort failed to comply with lease contract.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Not so fast. Canyons Resort operator Talisker Corp. said Wednesday it doubts Park City Mountain Resort's lawsuit will go to trial in Summit County.

In a prepared statement, Talisker said that 3rd District Judge Ryan M. Harris' ruling on a motion to dismiss the suit did not make certain it would proceed to a jury trial, as a PCMR attorney said.

On Tuesday, after the release of Harris' ruling, The Tribune quoted PCMR's attorney, Alan Sullivan, as saying he would move forward with the discovery phase of the suit and was "hopeful" his client would prevail at trial.

The Tribune was unable to reach Talisker representatives Tuesday.

On Wednesday, attorney John Lund, who represents Talisker, said the discovery or evidence-seeking process will demonstrate that lesseePCMR's case will eventually be tossed out of court.

PCMR filed suit March 9 alleging Talisker refused to renew a lease on 3,700 acres of ski terrain adjacent to Old Town Park City. The suit contends PCMR had met its obligations for a lease renewal at $155,000 per year. Further, PCMR alleged Talisker wanted a new lease that would, in effect, drive the operator of Park City's oldest ski operation out of business.

Talisker pays about $3 million for Canyons Resort ski terrain it leases from Wolf Mountain.

In 1975, PCMR's predecessor, Park City Ski Area, amended an agreement with United Park City Mines to say the lease would end on April 30, 1991. But it included a provision that could extend the lease by as much as three terms of 20 years to 2051. Talisker acquired United Park in 2004.

However, according to court documents, PCMR did not notify Talisker in writing of its intent to extend the lease by the second of those deadlines, April 30, 2011. It did, however, seek renewal on May 2, 2011 ­— two days late.

"Unless PCMR can prove that this failure is due to Talisker's wrongful or deliberate act as opposed to PCMR's own fault, the lease issue is at an end," Talisker's statement said.

In his 47-page ruling, Harris dismissed six causes of action brought by PCMR against Talisker. But he allowed two claims to go forward: One allows PCMR to argue its lease of ski terrain has not expired; a second allows PCMR to seek $7 million in damages for resort improvements it made after April 30, 2011— the date Talisker said the lease expired.

Among PCMR's arguments that Talisker accepted its lease renewal is that no lease expiration notice was sent while PCMR added a new chairlift and other amenities during the summer and fall of 2011.

Lund said he did not know why it took Talisker more than six months to inform PCMR it had not renewed the lease.

But, he said, that is of no consequence. "When the discussion is said and done, there is no good reason why PCMR didn't comply with the contract" by renewing by the deadline.

csmart@sltrib.com