Ryan Harris, the 3rd District Court judge presiding over the lawsuit between Park City Mountain Resort and its landlord, Talisker Land Holdings, LLC, could sign a de facto eviction order against PCMR this week.
It would be another in a string of stunning moments in a case that will decide the fate of PCMR. The sides are scheduled to appear in court on Thursday with the possibility of Harris ruling in favor of Talisker Land Holdings, LLC and then signing a document known as an order of restitution. The order of restitution, submitted to the court by Talisker Land Holding, LLC in April, is essentially an eviction order. It would give PCMR 60 days to leave the disputed land.
Harris has already made a series of rulings in favor of the landlord. The case involves Talisker Land Holdings, LLC acreage underlying most of the terrain at PCMR. The judge has critically ruled that the PCMR leases expired in 2011 after they were not renewed. PCMR plans to appeal the rulings.
Vail Resorts is overseeing the case for Talisker Land Holdings, LLC as part of its agreement to lease and operate Canyons Resort. The deal could be extended to include the disputed PCMR terrain depending on the outcome of the case.
In court filings last week, the PCMR side asked Harris to postpone signing an eviction order until other parts of the case are decided. The filings outlined a projected large impact on the area's economy if PCMR is evicted. PCMR says an eviction would cause the immediate closure of the resort. PCMR would then operate during the ski season with greatly reduced offerings on land not involved in the case. That land is located at the base of PCMR or slightly uphill from there.
Alan Sullivan, the lead attorney for PCMR, said in an interview the arguments on Thursday will be similar to those made in the filing. He said the impact on the economy will be discussed. PCMR issued a prepared statement from Sullivan in anticipation of the hearing.
"At Thursday's hearing, PCMR will ask the court to postpone any eviction order until PCMR has the chance to file an appeal and obtain a stay of proceedings pending review by the Utah Supreme Court. PCMR remains committed to finding a resolution that works for both parties and the community. Vail should come to the table with a concrete offer to resolve this dispute," Sullivan said in the statement.
The Talisker Land Holdings, LLC side also released a prepared statement, saying PCMR used "inflammatory rhetoric" in the recent filing. The statement says the Cumming family, which owns PCMR parent Powdr Corp., "can calm this entire situation" by saying skiers will not be blocked from the disputed terrain even if they pursue an operation on the lower section of the mountain that is not involved in the case. A statement "will ensure the health of all of Park City and will also create more profitability for the Cummings," Talisker Land Holdings, LLC said.
"There is no doubt that any activity the Cummings are planning on that site will be more successful if guests can also choose a more comprehensive experience. The Cummings' suggestion that they would prevent skiers and riders from accessing the upper mountain terrain is nothing more than a crude negotiating tactic or pure spite. And neither has a role in this dialogue," the prepared statement said.
Powdr Corp. CEO John Cumming on Tuesday released a prepared statement: "I am committed to resolving this dispute, which is why we have made repeated offers to Talisker and now Vail to settle this case so that the resort will continue operation. But I can't negotiate with myself. The truth is that I can't get them to engage with me. We have received no concrete offers from Vail. Since we can't keep bidding against ourselves, they need to come to the table. When that happens this dispute can be resolved quickly in a way that works for both parties and the community."