Sunapee Lawsuit to Get Day in Court

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SAM Magazine—Concord, N.H., May 7, 2013—Six years after the operators of Mount Sunapee ski area sued the state for fraudulently obstructing the resort’s expansion plan, the suit finally will head to trial. A lower court had dismissed the suit, but the state Supreme Court overturned that ruling, saying that the resort’s claims of official misconduct and capricious dealing were genuine issues of material facts.

Sunapee filed suit in 2007 seeking $13 million to $14 million in damages against the state. Sunapee’s lessees, Tim and Diane Mueller, want to expand the ski area beyond the land they lease from the state to property the resort purchased on the west side of Mount Sunapee State Park.

Sunapee claimed that a state official assured them their lease would cover the entire park, making the expansion plan feasible. However, the final lease included only a portion of the park, with buffer zones that disconnected the resort’s purchased land from the ski area. Sunapee claims that state officials promised to correct the language in the original lease. Years later, after those officials were no longer in office, then-N.H. Gov. John Lynch refused to amend the lease to resolve the dispute.

The Supreme Court ruled that Lynch was within his rights to do so, but held that there were factual disputes in the case that must be settled at trial. Those disputes center on Sunapee’s charge that the state knowingly misrepresented the terms of the lease.