The 3rd District Court judge presiding over the lawsuit between Park City Mountain Resort and its landlord, Talisker Land Holdings, LLC, indicated on Wednesday he could attach a dollar figure later this month to a bond PCMR would be required to post to remain on the land through an appeal.
Judge Ryan Harris said he would set the bond amount at an Aug. 27 hearing if he is able to do so. If he does, the PCMR side would be given a "short but reasonable period of time" to post a bond, Harris said.
Setting the dollar figure will be a critical decision by the judge as PCMR considers whether it will post the bond, allowing it to continue to occupy the land as it appeals the case. The lawsuit centers on PCMR's lease of Talisker Land Holdings, LLC acreage underlying much of the resort's terrain. The judge has sided with the landowner in the critical points of the case and has signed a de facto eviction order. PCMR has taken an initial step toward an appeal to the Utah Supreme Court.
Harris acknowledged winter is approaching as he spoke during a Wednesday telephone conference between himself and the attorneys.
"You both have recognized, and I recognize as well, the urgency involved in this," Harris said. "The days are getting shorter and we are only a few months away from ski season, and I understand all of that."
The telephone conference was held at a critical point in the case. The sides continue to engage in court-ordered mediation as they attempt to reach a resolution. The Aug. 15 deadline Harris set for the completion of the mediation is Friday while the Aug.
The sides spent time during the telephone conference discussing the bond, but they did not address detailed figures. The figures will likely be included in court filings expected shortly. If PCMR posts a bond, Talisker Land Holdings, LLC has said it would not oppose the resort remaining on the disputed acreage through the appeal process. The bond would cover damages in the case if PCMR is unsuccessful in its appeal.
"We understand that Park City would like to stay on this property as long as possible, and if they'd make a commitment to post the bond, no matter how much it is, then I think everybody would have certainty about what's going to go on this winter at this point. But to drag out this bond hearing, your honor, into September and perhaps later is really detrimental to the community," John Lund, the lead attorney for Talisker Land Holdings, LLC, said.
He said he hopes the judge determines the amount of a bond before Labor Day. Once a figure is known, Talisker Land Holdings, LLC could "finally ask PCMR to actually put some money up to support its position that it's continuing to be entitled to be on our land," Lund said.
The telephone conference was held in the days after the two sides wrote letters to the judge centered on the bond. Lund's letter to Harris said Talisker Land Holdings, LLC wanted the Aug. 27 court date dedicated to setting a dollar figure on the bond. Alan Sullivan, who is the lead attorney for the PCMR side, said in his letter Aug. 27 should focus on the method that will be employed as the amount is set.
Sullivan during the telephone conference, though, said the PCMR side reconsidered its position. He told Harris the Aug. 27 hearing should address the method that is used to set a bond amount as well as the figure.
"We've had a change of heart on that. And I want the court to know that we believe that it is important to expedite this process to the extent that we can," Sullivan said.
He added: "the resort needs clarity on these issues before it's too late."
Sullivan said if PCMR chooses not to post a bond and an eviction proceeds the two sides should be required to meet to discuss issues like an eviction timeline and what property PCMR could remove when it leaves.
The attorneys also addressed the complexities involved in crafting a bond amount. Harris said he anticipates arguments by the attorneys on Aug. 27 and witnesses available for cross-examination.