Teams from Park City Mountain Resort and Talisker Land Holdings, LLC will each be crunching numbers over the next two weeks as they prepare to put a dollar figure on what PCMR should be required to post in a bond to remain on the acreage underlying most of the resort's terrain as it pursues an appeal in a closely watched lawsuit against its landlord.
Judge Ryan Harris, the 3rd District Court judge presiding over the case, signed a de facto eviction order against the resort on July 1 but stayed its enforcement until at least Aug. 27 to allow time for the sides to reach an agreement through mediation. If a settlement is not reached through the court-ordered mediation, the eviction could proceed. The mediation is not binding.
Talisker Land Holdings, LLC and Vail Resorts, the Colorado firm that is overseeing the case for the landowner, late last week indicated they would not oppose a PCMR move to stay the eviction order until the case is completed. PCMR, though, would be required to post a bond to remain on the land. PCMR recently filed papers in anticipation of an appeal to the Utah Supreme Court.
The amount of a bond remains a multimillion-dollar question. The two sides are not anticipated to present their positions until at least Aug. 15. Talisker Land Holdings, LLC in July submitted a timeline to the court that identified that date as the deadline for the filings related to the bond.
The lead attorneys for the two sides on Monday declined to offer details about the numbers that are under consideration.
John Lund, the Talisker Land Holdings, LLC attorney, said both sides are designating experts. He said the experts will delve into details like the lease value of the disputed land and look at comparable tracts of ground at other mountain resorts.
Lund said the research will also study the revenues PCMR earned from the Talisker Land Holdings, LLC terrain and how much money the resort earned from the base area. The Talisker Land Holdings, LLC acreage stretches across PCMR's terrain starting a little bit uphill from the base area. A firm tied to the PCMR side owns the lower terrain and the base area.
He said the bond would need to cover the rent during the past three ski seasons and any in the future as the case proceeds. Talisker Land Holdings, LLC says state law requires PCMR to post triple the amount in a bond for the 2013-2014 ski season and any in the future. The firm also wants the bond to include attorney fees and interest.
The bond money would cover damages if PCMR is unsuccessful in its appeal.
Talisker Land Holdings, LLC wants Harris to "hold a hearing to set the appropriate bond amount as soon as practical so that PCMR can quickly make their decision as to whether they intend to post such bond that would allow them to continue operating next season," the firm said in a prepared statement last week.
Alan Sullivan, the lead attorney for the PCMR side, said he hopes Talisker Land Holdings, LLC and Vail Resorts work with PCMR to craft "a reasonable bond to the court so that the 2014-2015 season can proceed without interruption."
There have been increasing worries in Park City in recent weeks about the possibility of PCMR not opening during the upcoming ski season. City Hall leaders and businesspeople with interests tied to PCMR have expressed concerns recently.
The sides are believed to be continuing the mediation efforts. The judge set an Aug. 15 deadline to complete mediation. Neither side has publicly discussed their progress. An important hearing in the case is scheduled Aug. 27.
PCMR filed the lawsuit in 2011, arguing it extended its lease, and the case now includes a countersuit seeking damages. Vail Resorts is overseeing the case for Talisker Land Holdings, LLC as part of a long-term agreement with the landowner to operate the Talisker corporate family-owned Canyons Resort. The agreement could be extended to the disputed terrain at PCMR depending on the outcome of the case.