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Park City Mountain Resort, Canyons Resort owner headed to trial

Published November 21, 2012 7:46 am

Judge ruling • Park City Mountain sued the Canyons operator for failing to renew lease on ski terrain.
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The war of Park City's ski titans appears headed for trial.

Third District Judge Ryan M. Harris cleared the way Tuesday for Park City Mountain Resort to take Talisker Corp., which owns and runs the nearby Canyons Resort, to a jury trial to determine who will run Park City's oldest operating ski enterprise.

In a 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 infrastructure improvements made after April 30, 2011 — the date Talisker says the lease expired.

PCMR has leased 3,700 acres of ski terrain adjacent to Old Town Park City for $155,000 per year. By contrast, Talisker spends about $3 million annually to lease ski terrain at Canyons from Wolf Mountain.

PCMR filed suit March 9, alleging it had met its obligation for extending its lease but Talisker would not renew the lease and was seeking to drive PCMR out of business.

Talisker later filed a motion to dismiss the suit.

Tuesday evening, Alan Sullivan, who represents PCMR, said his client will now move forward with the discovery process and then on to a jury trial.

"We are very hopeful we will prevail at trial," he said. "We can also move forward with the damages claim."

The Salt Lake City-based attorney for Talisker, John R. Lund, could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

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 could be extended by three 20-year terms to 2051. Talisker acquired United Park City Mines in 2004.

In oral arguments before Harris in Summit County's 3rd District Court on Oct. 30, attorneys for Talisker said PCMR did not renew its lease in writing by April 30, 2011, as is required under Utah law.

New York City-based attorney Daniel Beller said that as such, PCMR had no standing to sue Talisker. He characterized the lawsuit as "complete nonsense."

PCMR did notify Talisker in writing of its intent to renew the lease two days after the deadline. In addition, Sullivan told the judge that PCMR and Talisker had ongoing discussions concerning lease renewal.

Although allowing the suit to move forward, the judge dismissed various other aspects of the suit, including: claims that Talisker had a responsibility to remind PCMR that its lease was about to expire; claims that statements to the Utah Tax Commission from United Park City Mines or Talisker amounted to a lease renewal; claims that Talisker had acted in bad faith; and claims that if Talisker prevailed it would amount to monopolization under the Utah Anti Trust Act.

No date has been set for trial.







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