Judge Rules For Talisker, Vail in PCMR Lease Dispute

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Publish Date

05/21/2014

SAM Magazine—Park City, Utah, May 21, 2014—Utah District Judge Ryan Harris has ruled that Park City Mountain Resort failed to properly renew its lease in 2011, and dismissed all but one of PCMR’s claims for relief. In addition, the judge ruled in favor of Vail Resorts and Talisker (current leaseholder of the disputed land and the landlord, respectively) on their several motions. The rulings clear the way for Vail Resorts to assume control of the land on which the vast majority of PCMR’s terrain sits—pending any appeals by PCMR, or a negotiated settlement among the parties.

If the rulings stand, PCMR could lose control of the majority of its terrain due to a failure to declare its intent to renew its old lease, in writing, by Mar. 1, 2011. Such a letter of intent was not sent until May 2, 2011, and that is the central point upon which the entire battle turns.

In a statement, Vail Resorts said it “is very pleased with the ruling today by the Third Judicial District Court of Summit County, Utah in Talisker's favor on all matters relating to the expiration of the Park City Mountain Resort lease.”

Talisker attorney John Lund added, “We are very pleased with the Court’s ruling today, reaffirming that Talisker’s leases with PCMR expired on April 30, 2011, more than three years ago. Talisker is also pleased that the Court has denied PCMR’s claims that Talisker violated any provisions of the lease, including with regard to any right of refusals.

“Talisker looks forward to bringing in Vail Resorts as its new tenant and operator of the terrain. … It’s now time for PCMR to move on and work out a realistic solution for access to the ski terrain from Park City.

“Talisker also looks forward to concluding the rest of the court case, including working out the amount of back rent and damages owed to Talisker by PCMR.”

Powdr Corp CEO John D. Cumming remained determined to fight. “We respect the Court's decision but at the end of the day it doesn’t change the fact that Vail and PCMR can and must resolve this dispute. For that to happen, both parties will need to sit down at the table, negotiate in good faith, and come to a rational agreement. We are committed to doing exactly that … let me be clear: we will not walk away and allow a Vail takeover.

“Even if Vail ultimately prevails in this litigation, it cannot possibly operate a resort on the leased property. They do not own the adjacent lands and facilities that are essential for ski operations to take place. And they are not for sale,” he continued. Powdr owns the land at the base of the resort, including the lift terminals, base facilities, and parking lots.

It could be some time before any change in management occurs. PCMR attorney Alan Sullivan said, “While we are respectful of the Court, we believe there are significant factual disputes which require a trial, and at the appropriate time we intend to appeal these rulings. … We are committed to ensuring that PCMR has its day in court so it can show that it acted responsibly and in good faith and that its right to use the lands at issue has been extended.”

Sullivan added, “We expect that PCMR will operate business as usual for the 2014-15 season. We believe that no action affecting the operation of the resort can occur until the appeals are completed, which is likely to take at least another year.”

In response, Talisker attorney John Lund said, “While we recognize that PCMR has the right to appeal, they have now brought numerous claims over three years, substantially all of which have been dismissed by the Court. … We sincerely believe that it would be best for all concerned for PCMR to stop using the legal system to cause further delay and uncertainty and refocus instead on a positive and constructive solution. We look forward to the Court proceeding expeditiously on the next steps in the process.”

One of those next steps: Vail has made a motion for partial summary judgment on its unlawful detainer counterclaim, which requests the eviction of PCMR from the upper slopes of the mountain. The Court has scheduled a hearing on that for June 19.

PCMR’s one “win” in the rulings was on the question of Talisker’s “negligent nondisclosure” that it considered PCMR’s lease expired. That issue could still go to trial.