Park City Mountain Resort on Thursday took the first step toward appealing a district court judge's rulings in a lawsuit against its landlord to the Utah Supreme Court.
PCMR attorneys filed a notice of appeal in 3rd District Court indicating they want to bring the case to the state's highest court.
The notice identifies a July 1 order issued by Judge Ryan Harris in favor of the landlord, Talisker Land Holdings, LLC, regarding a claim that the resort is unlawfully occupying the land. It also identifies an order of restitution entered by the judge on July 1. The order of restitution is a de facto eviction notice. The appeal would also incorporate "all subsidiary rulings and orders leading to these orders," according to the filing.
The PCMR side had long indicated it intended to appeal the rulings had they been in favor of Talisker Land Holdings, LLC.
"Today PCMR filed a notice of appeal to the Utah Supreme Court as a precautionary measure taken to protect PCMR's appellate rights. This action is not intended to delay proceedings before the Third District Court and will not interfere with implementation of the Court's order to mediate, which PCMR supports," PCMR's lead attorney, Alan Sullivan, said in a prepared statement. "PCMR has been trying to resolve this dispute for over two years and is committed to finding a resolution that works for both parties and the community."
Talisker Land Holdings, LLC did not issue a public statement about the filing.
The case centers on PCMR's lease of Talisker Land Holdings, LLC acreage underlying most of the resort's terrain. The PCMR side brought the lawsuit, arguing the leases were extended, among other points. The case now involves a countersuit claiming the resort unlawfully occupied the land past the expiration of the leases.
The judge has largely sided with Talisker Land Holdings, LLC, including a series of critical rulings that could result in the landlord evicting PCMR. Harris stayed the eviction notice and ordered the sides into meditation in an attempt to reach an agreement. Details about the mediation efforts will not be made public.
The PCMR side on Wednesday, meanwhile, sent the judge a two-page letter explaining the timing of the appeal notice. The letter, signed by attorney Michael Zimmerman, says the filing was made "out of an abundance of caution to assure that we have preserved our appellate rights" from the July 1 orders.
"While we believe that there is no right to appeal from the July 1 Ruling, Utah law is unclear respecting the appropriate appeal mechanism in this situation. For that reason, after we file the notice of appeal we will ask the Utah Supreme Court to determine whether it has jurisdiction over the appeal at this point in time," Zimmerman, a former chief justice of the Utah Supreme Court, says in the letter.
The letter describes the case as a "hybrid" that involves "a variety of claims." In an interview, Sullivan said Utah law is unclear regarding the timing of an appeal in a situation like the PCMR-Talisker Land Holdings, LLC case.
One unclear point, he said, centers on whether an appeal of the judge's ruling that PCMR is unlawfully occupying the land needs to be filed within 10 days or at a later stage in the case. In a typical case of that nature, the appeal must be filed within 10 days, but in one involving broader issues, like the PCMR-Talisker Land Holdings, LLC case, an appeal must wait until the other issues are decided, Sullivan said as he described ambiguity in the state law.
The letter says the PCMR side understands the state law as requiring an appeal to wait until after the rest of the case is decided.
"Nevertheless, given the possible consequences of being incorrect, we intend to file a notice of appeal and to ask the Utah Supreme Court to address the issue of jurisdiction immediately," it says. "If the supreme court concludes it has jurisdiction, we then will ask that court to stay the appeal until after entry of a final judgment . . ."