Developer sues Talisker | ParkRecord.com
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Developer sues Talisker

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF
Empire Pass is under construction on the slopes of Deer Valley. A former member of the Empire Pass team recently sued Talisker Deer Valley, the developer, after he says he was fired. Grayson West/Park Record
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A Park City developer, charging that Empire Pass executives fired him from the team building the ritzy Deer Valley project, is seeking at least $3.5 million from Talisker Deer Valley.

In a lawsuit filed in Third District Court at Silver Summit, lawyers for Richard Albrecht bring seven claims against Talisker, including breach of contract and an allegation that Talisker did not deal fairly or in good faith.

The nine-page lawsuit affords a rare, detailed chronology of the alleged intrigues of high-stakes development in Park City, where the hot real-estate market and the expansion of resort projects to outside of Park City has made the industry lucrative for scores of Parkites.

Albrecht, who the lawsuit says lives on Lucky John Drive in Park Meadows, claims that Talisker ousted him on Aug. 4, 2005 after a successful run with the company. Talisker offered a severance package but Albrecht’s side says that the offer was too low and, since then, the two sides have failed to reach an agreement.

Albrecht’s interest in Talisker, the lawsuit says, extends to 2004, when a recruiter wanted to approach Talisker with his name. At the time, Albrecht was managing a development on the Big Island of Hawaii and could have stayed with that project indefinitely, according to the lawsuit.

Quickly, Albrecht was adamant that, if he joined Talisker, he wanted to "manage and run an entire project at Deer Valley" but had concerns about the role of Mandy Scully, a high-ranking Talisker executive.

Talisker gave in, the lawsuit says, and Jack Bistricer, the company’s chief, indicated Albrecht that Scully would be shifted to the firm’s Toronto headquarters.

After more negotiations, the sides agreed that Albrecht would "have total management authority" over Tuhaye, a golf development in Wasatch County, 70 percent authority over Empire Pass and 50 percent authority over what is planned as a resort development in the Bonanza Flats area of Wasatch County, where there was talk of a lodge under the Ralph Lauren Polo brand, according to the lawsuit.

Albrecht says in the lawsuit he would eventually be given "complete authority" over all of the projects and that he would stay with Talisker throughout the development.

In a copy of a June 16, 2004 e-mail filed with the lawsuit, Bistricer outlined the agreement between Talisker and Albrecht, saying that, "it is with delight and enthusiasm that I write to summarize our discussions of your employment at Talisker Deer Valley."

"Richard, I think that we together can create one (of) the best mountain, multi season group of communities that will be the place of choice in the next twenty years to come. Talisker Deer Valley can be one of the finest companies, if we all give it all we got to create something fresh . . . ," the e-mail says.

The e-mail indicates that Albrecht was to be paid $300,000 as a base salary and the deal included perks like a seven-year interest-free loan to purchase a lot at Tuhaye. His compensation was later changed so that he would earn 3 percent of the first $10 million of the project’s yearly profit plus .05 percent on the profit above $10 million, a memorandum submitted as evidence in the lawsuit says.

Albrecht’s side claims he was successful at Talisker, increasing sales from $1.9 million in 2004 to more than $80 million in 2005.

However, Bistricer began to distance himself from Albrecht, not informing him of meetings and not taking phone calls or returning e-mails, and Albrecht in early April 2005 discovered that Bistricer wanted to hire a CEO to oversee the Deer Valley development and serve as Albrecht’s boss, the lawsuit claims.

Bistricer denied that was the case and told Albrecht that the CEO was to be the chief of Talisker’s global operations, the lawsuit says.

Dave Smith, a Talisker attorney, declined to comment about the lawsuit’s allegations. He said that Talisker plans to contest Albrecht’s assertions. Albrecht declined to comment. An attorney for Albrecht did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment.


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