Park City • What exactly was said in a flurry of emails between Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) executives that weekend in April 2011, when they apparently suddenly realized the deadline had been missed for renewing a lease providing access to most of their ski mountain?
Attorneys for the landowner, Talisker Land Holdings LLC, want access to 22 of those emails, believing the correspondence will show PCMR deliberately attempted to defraud Talisker by backdating a lease letter to make it appear the resort had met the deadline.
But 3rd District Judge Ryan Harris accepted enough of PCMR's argument that the emails are protected by attorney/client privilege that he fashioned a compromise Friday that will allow this legal battle between ski-industry goliaths to proceed.
Harris instructed PCMR attorneys to deliver the disputed emails to him on Monday morning. By Tuesday afternoon, he pledged to let both sides know which emails he determined were confidential and which PCMR should hand over.
That will allow the competing attorneys to shape their strategies for depositions scheduled to begin Wednesday, with PCMR President and CEO Jenni Smith the first to be questioned by Talisker attorneys.
The legal dispute conceivably threatens to shut down PCMR this winter, if the resort is not allowed to use the mountain. PCMR's ownership of the lower mountain and the resort's base facilities also precludes Talisker and Vail Resorts, the new operator of Talisker-owned Canyons Resort, from running the resort.
PCMR filed suit in March 2012 against Talisker after the Canadian-based company informed PCMR that it had failed to meet an April 30, 2011, deadline to renew its lease of 2,800 acres of mountainside rented for skiing since the 1960s.
In Friday's hearing, Talisker attorney John Lund said the requested emails will show that PCMR simply "forgot to renew the lease" and that, when executives realized the mistake at the last minute, concocted a plan to backdate a lease renewal letter to April 29, 2011 a day ahead of the deadline when it actually was written May 2, 2011.
He said Talisker officials did not recognize what happened until December of that year when they checked the postmark on PCMR's lease-renewal letter and saw its date was after the deadline.
PCMR officials have acknowledged the postdating but contend it was an honest mistake.