Third District Court Judge Ryan Harris, calling the lease dispute between Park City Mountain Resort and a firm under the Talisker Corporation umbrella "unfortunate," on Tuesday dismissed key parts of PCMR's lawsuit against its landlord.
Talisker Land Holdings, LLC and United Park City Mines won dismissals of six points of PCMR's case, including one focused on PCMR's assertion that Talisker Land Holdings, LLC had a duty to remind the resort of the requirements of a lease renewal as the expiration date approached. The 47-page ruling also dismissed PCMR's antitrust claims against Talisker Land Holdings, LLC.
" . . . The Park City Parties had an obligation to strictly comply with the Leases' renewal provisions, and they failed to do so," Harris wrote.
Harris, meanwhile, allowed the PCMR side to press forward with two points -- one encompassing a contention that Talisker Land Holdings, LLC waived its right to claim or is stopped from claiming the leases expired and the other for damages if it is found that Talisker Land Holdings, LLC failed to disclose early on that it saw the leases as having expired.
The lawsuit focuses on PCMR's two leases of Talisker Land Holdings, LLC ground, approximately 3,700 acres, to operate the resort. The Talisker Land Holdings, LLC side claims PCMR did not provide written notice of its intent to extend the leases on time and they expired in April, 2011. PCMR says it communicated an interest in extending the lease, but it has acknowledged that a confirmation letter was not sent until after the deadline.
The judge's ruling includes a strong statement on the point, saying that the leases are written in "plain language."
"The Park City Parties maintain that this language allows them to make a non-written 'election,' as long as they provide to the Talisker Parties, at some later point, written confirmation of this election. This is simply not a tenable interpretation of the plain language. Indeed, this interpretation borders on the nonsensical, and contains no conceivable logical limit," he wrote.
The lawsuit has been closely watched in the Park City area and its outcome could have wide-ranging impacts on the local ski industry. The PCMR side has claimed the Talisker Corporation side wants to eliminate it as a competitor to Talisker-owned Canyons.
"The current situation is unfortunate. The Court is aware of, and mindful of, the importance of PCMR and The Canyons to Summit County's economic, cultural, and recreational well-being," Harris wrote in his ruling. "The Court is, like many citizens of Summit County and of the State of Utah, hopeful that these parties can resolve their differences and keep both resorts operating in an economically beneficial manner . . ."
Attorneys for Talisker Land Holdings, LLC and PCMR, speaking in interviews after the ruing was released, said their sides are willing to engage in settlement negotiations. They did not provide details. If a settlement is not reached, the sides intend to enter the discovery phase of the lawsuit, when the attorneys conduct depositions and obtain documents from the other side.
Daniel Beller, the lead attorney for Talisker Land Holdings, LLC, said in an interview his side is confident in the facts of the case. Alan Sullivan, the attorney who represents PCMR, said if his side prevails on the remaining points Talisker Land Holdings, LLC could be prevented from claiming the leases have expired.