Park City Mountain Resort and Talisker Land Holdings, LLC, locked in a high-profile lawsuit since the spring of 2012 about PCMR's lease agreement, have apparently privately attempted to reach a settlement.
Settlement talks were mentioned on several occasions during a Thursday telephone conference with 3rd District Court Judge Ryan Harris. Neither of the sides, though, provided details during the conference. Attorneys for PCMR and Talisker Land Holdings, LLC declined to discuss the prospects of a settlement during interviews afterward. A timeline for the settlement talks was not outlined during the conference, and it was not clear when they started.
The judge scheduled the telephone conference to address PCMR's decision to file a recast lawsuit under seal. A second version of the 23-page lawsuit was filed shortly after the conference with approximately three pages blacked out, or redacted. The sides did not object to the release of the second version with the approximately three pages kept private. The original version is the official document, though. The redacted pages involve 17 sentences or short paragraphs.
The mentions that there could be settlement discussions occurring were unexpected as tensions have increased between the two sides. The judge recently allowed PCMR to expand the scope of the case, something that the Talisker Land Holdings, LLC side opposed. In late 2012, Harris dismissed parts of the case, and his recent decision allowing PCMR to expand the case was a major victory for the resort.
The two sides, meanwhile, engaged in a highly charged exchange of correspondences with the judge centered on the date of a crucial letter that PCMR believed was its confirmation that the lease had been extended. The lawsuit, filed by the PCMR side, centers on the renewal. The Talisker Land Holdings, LLC side contends the lease was not renewed.
At one point during the telephone conference, Daniel Beller, one of the Talisker Land Holdings, LLC attorneys, referred to "confidential settlement communications." Beller also said the parties "agreed that the fact of settlement discussions was confidential."
The judge later asked Beller: "Your position is the actual fact that settlement discussions occurred at all is itself something that is confidential?" Beller's response was: "I believe that it was."
The conference, meanwhile, addressed the initial sealing of the recast lawsuit. Harris said the media had requested copies of the document or its cover page if the lawsuit itself would be kept guarded.
Amber Mettler, an attorney for the PCMR side, said the case was filed under seal after consulting with attorneys for Talisker Land Holdings, LLC. Mettler also mentioned settlement discussions.
The recast lawsuit added parties as defendants, something the PCMR side had signaled earlier. The defendants are now:
Alan Sullivan, the lead attorney for PCMR, said last week he anticipated adding Flera, LLC and a party tied to Vail Resorts as defendants. Vail Resorts earlier in 2013 reached an agreement to operate Canyons Resort. The agreement could be expanded to include the terrain at PCMR depending on the outcome of the lawsuit.