PCMR tries to dismiss Talisker claims
February 8, 2014
Attorneys for Park City Mountain Resort, Talisker Land Holdings, LLC and Vail Resorts made arguments Thursday at the 3rd District Court in Silver Summit regarding PCMR’s motion to dismiss Talisker’s counterclaims against it. Those claims are part of a larger suit revolving around the validity of PCMR’s renewal of the lease that allows it to operate on Talisker-owned land.
"Specifically, Talisker filed counterclaims for rents due and owing, for unlawful detainer, and for unjust enrichment," according to court filings.
The lease was entered into as of Jan. 1, 1971 between United Park City Mines Company, owned by Talisker since 2003, and PCMR’s parent companies, Greater Park City Company and Greater Properties, Inc.
As part of that lease, United Park City Mines Company reserved the rights "to all ores and minerals as well as the right to enter on and use the Leased Premises to explore for, develop, or mine such ores and minerals," according to court filings.
That reservation of mining rights is, according to PCMR, now sufficient evidence for the court to dismiss one of Talisker’s counterclaims.
On Aug. 28, 2012, Talisker served PCMR with a notice to quit — Talisker was effectively attempting to evict PCMR from the land on which the resort operates. When PCMR refused, Talisker filed claims against it for "unlawful detainer" and "unjust enrichment."
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Unlawful detainer in Utah requires "exclusive possession" of the subject premises by the violator, so PCMR argued Thursday that Talisker’s reservation of mining rights means that PCMR does not now and actually has never had exclusive possession of the property. The various arguments included some particularly technical discussions, such as whether "exclusive" is the same as "sole" possession. Judge Ryan Harris admitted that "this is, to some degree, semantic."
Among the counterclaims PCMR is attempting to strike down, Talisker is also seeking PCMR’s profits from operations of the resort after it ignored the notice to quit. This is the "unjust enrichment" claim. PCMR argued Thursday that Talisker should not be entitled to the resort’s profits because, among other reasons, Talisker did not have the ability to run the resort on the premises, and thus is not losing any income that it otherwise might earn if PCMR had vacated the premises.
Harris said he intends to rule on the various aspects of the motion to dismiss "in the next few weeks."
In contrast to the publicly contentious nature of the case, Harris expressed appreciation to the attorneys arguing the case, some of whom fly in for hearings from as far away as New York, for working various issues out amongst themselves in a productive fashion. He singled out the "few discovery issues that we’ve had."
"That’s really remarkable in this case," he said, adding that the attorneys should be "commended."
Harris also may have indicated Thursday that he expects the case to be appealed after it runs its course at the district level. During discussion of Utah Supreme Court precedent, when an attorney joked about that court ruling on a particular argument in the present case, Harris remarked, "Somehow I think they might get that chance."