Lawsuit against The Canyons dismissed
A judge has put an end to the Osguthorpe family’s efforts to evict The Canyons from an important piece of property at the ski area near Park City.
Land the Osguthorpes own is part of thousands of acres of property that was leased to American Skiing Co., the former parent company to The Canyons, so that ASC could form the Snyderville Basin resort in 1997.
In a 13-page ruling and order issued Sept. 2, 3rd District Court Judge Bruce Lubeck said Osguthorpe could not be evicted with an unlawful detainer action.
Osguthorpe’s contract with the Canyons is not a "leasehold interest," the decision states.
Therefore, The Canyons cannot be removed from the land as a landlord evicts a tenant because the resort only maintains an easement to use the property, according to Lubeck.
Lawyers for The Canyons argued in August that resort officials couldn’t be removed from the land when they asked Lubeck to dismiss the case.
Resort employees must access Osguthorpe land to repair equipment at The Canyons. The Saddleback Express chairlift unloads onto property the family owns.
"The unlawful detainer statute arose to help landlords and tenants quickly settle disputes as to possession and occupancy of real property," the decision states. "The court does not believe the parties’ agreement spells out [The Canyons’] status as a tenant, such that a cause of action for unlawful detainer is appropriate."
Allowing eviction in this case "forces a court to adjudicate the merits of disputed issues in a summary manner without giving them the properly considered attention on the merits," the ruling states.
"A tenant must be in possession (of) real property to be guilty of unlawful detainer," according to the judge.
A past "restatement of agreement" between Osguthorpe and ASC defined the contract as an "easement," Lubeck states.
The Canyons "clearly does not have or hold exclusive possession," the judge said.
Lubeck acknowledged in the decision that Osguthorpe continues to "utilize the property."
Lubeck also rejected a request from Osguthorpe for class action status for the lawsuit.
Osguthorpe hoped to include as defendants, "each person, who skis or snowboards at [The Canyons.]"
Talisker Corp. recently purchased The Canyons from American Skiing Company and Osguthorpe wanted employees at Talisker Canyons Finance Co. barred from entering the resort.
Osguthorpe claimed resort officials ignored his claims that snow-making equipment harmed his sheep.
He had asked for several million dollars in damages from The Canyons.
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