PCMR and Talisker hit courtroom
October 30, 2012
An attorney for a firm under the Talisker umbrella Tuesday morning accused Park City Mountain Resort of using "scare tactics and spin" in a legal case centering on leases that could ultimately decide the fate of the resort.
Daniel Beller, one of the attorneys representing Talisker Land Holdings, LLC and United Park City Mines, told a judge the case would not result in a loss of jobs at PCMR if the Talisker Land Holdings side prevails in the PCMR-filed lawsuit. He said skiing would continue at the resort and there will not be cows grazing the land.
Beller, speaking to Judge Ryan Harris in Third District Court at Silver Summit, said the court system is not intended to "bail out a party" that did not protect its own interests. He said the PCMR side did not adhere to the terms of the option attached to the lease agreement allowing the resort to operate on the Talisker Land Holdings acreage.
PCMR since it filed the lawsuit last spring has mounted a public-relations campaign in an effort to influence Parkites and other fans of the resort. PCMR has argued upward of 1,200 jobs are at stake in the case.
Beller, though, steered his comments to case itself, saying that the community will not be hurt as PCMR claims it will. Beller appeared the more aggressive of the attorneys who represented the two sides on Tuesday.
The lawsuit, which was filed in March, centers on two leases held by PCMR to operate the resort on ground under the control of the Tailsker firm. PCMR’s side contends the leases were properly extended until 2051. Talisker, though, claims PCMR did not comply with the terms of the option to extend the leases.
Talisker Land Holdings wants the case dismissed. PCMR, in its bid to continue the lawsuit, argues United Park City Mines, now part of the Talisker corporate family, in 2003 represented to state tax officials the expiration of the leases would not be until 2051. In doing so, PCMR says, there was a reduction in property taxes. Talisker should not be able to claim the leases have expired, PCMR says.
But Talisker Land Holdings argues the leases expired on April 30, 2011 after PCMR did not provide written notice it wanted to extend the leases. A letter of confirmation about the lease extensions from PCMR’s side was not mailed until after the deadline, Talisker Land Holdings has said.
In his arguments to the judge, PCMR’s lead attorney, Alan Sullivan, said the resort verbally communicated its interest in extending the lease over the years and would have provided the written notice by the deadline. He acknowledged the confirmation letter was not sent until after the deadline, though.
He said a breach on PCMR’s part, if one occurred, was not significant. The loss of leases would be catastrophic, he said. Sullivan said the Talisker side had the duty to inform PCMR that its belief was the leases had expired. Instead Talisker Land Holdings continued discussions with PCMR about connecting the resort and Talisker-owned Canyons.
Meanwhile, Sullivan said the contested leases do not cover the PCMR parking lots or the lower section of the skiing terrain. He said Talisker Land Holdings does not own the water rights or snowmaking and sewer infrastructure at PCMR. He said there were a number of reasons why Talisker Land Holdings could not simply lease the land to another resort operator or open its own resort there.
The judge did not issue a ruling on Tuesday. Harris will eventually issue a written ruling, but a date for the ruling has not been set.