PCMR v. Talisker: Powdr chief had no knowledge of backdated letter | ParkRecord.com

PCMR v. Talisker: Powdr chief had no knowledge of backdated letter

by Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

The CEO of Park City Mountain Resort parent Powdr Corp., a critical figure in the lawsuit with Talisker Land Holdings, LLC, testified during a January deposition he was not sure how a letter important to the case came to carry the wrong date.

The letter, from the spring of 2011, was what the PCMR side believed to be written conformation that it was extending its lease of Talisker Land Holdings, LLC acreage that underlies most of the resort’s terrain. The PCMR side claimed in its lawsuit the April 30, 2011 letter provided the written confirmation of the extension. Talisker Land Holdings, LLC contends the leases expired that day, prompting PCMR to file the lawsuit.

The Talisker Land Holdings, LLC side determined the letter was not sent until May 2, 2011, accusing the PCMR side of backdating the letter. PCMR then acknowledged that the letter was not sent on the earlier date. It was one of the sharpest exchanges in the two years since PCMR filed the lawsuit.

In a January deposition, Powdr Corp. CEO John Cumming was questioned about the letter. The PCMR side recently filed a response to a Talisker Land Holdings, LLC motion that includes at least part of Cumming’s deposition answers to the questions about the letter. Depositions are taken in private. Portions of depositions are often included in motions, though, providing glimpses into cases as they proceed.

"(If) I had known or noticed or anybody had known or noticed, it would not have happened that the dates didn’t line up," Cumming said in the deposition, according to the filing.

Cumming also said in the deposition: "It is completely inappropriate to knowingly monkey with those dates. And I never would have been a party to it. I never would have allowed it, period."

Another high-level figure on the PCMR side is also quoted in the filing. Matt Ireland is the president of a PCMR-linked firm called Greater Properties, Inc. and said in his December deposition "he did not recall ‘prior to signing this letter, seeing that the date of the letter was April 30th,’" according to the filing.

It remains unclear how the letter was changed to carry the earlier date. The Talisker Land Holdings, LLC side has been aggressive as it attempts to learn information about the letter.

In the response, the PCMR side challenges many of the statements of the Talisker Land Holdings, LLC motion, which requests a judgment in its favor on two points of the PCMR lawsuit.

Some of the statements PCMR challenges include:

  • an assertion by Talisker Land Holdings, LLC that Cumming testified that the chief financial officer of Powdr Corp. was responsible for understanding the lease. The PCMR filing says Cumming said in his deposition "that a ‘combination of people’ had responsibility for the Leases and that, as CEO of Powdr Corp., he was ultimately responsible for renewing the Leases."
  • a statement by Talisker Land Holdings, LLC that Powdr Corp.’s chief financial officer at the time, Jennifer Botter, testified that "she thought the option to extend was ‘automatic.’" According to the PCMR filing, Botter "actually testified that she believed the Leases had been extended because the renewals were ‘automatic and . . . had already been gained verbally."
  • a statement attributed to Cumming in his deposition saying "I run this business. Ultimately I’m responsible . . . And I have chosen not to try to pin the tail on the donkey . . . So the miss has been pinned squarely on me." The PCMR filing acknowledges Cumming’s testimony, but it indicates that he expanded on the statement. Nearly four lines of text are redacted from the public version of the PCMR filing. The redacted lines include further testimony by Cumming. "As a result, Mr. Cumming viewed written confirmation as a mere technicality," the filing says immediately after the redacted lines.
  • a statement by Talisker Land Holdings, LLC that Ian Cumming, a member of the board of directors of Powdr Corp., encountered a distraught PCMR President and General Manager Jenni Smith on May 2, 2011. "He explained that he was ‘trying to tell her that things like this happen. Things like this mess that’s going on right now happen,’" the Talisker Land Holdings, LLC filing says. The PCMR side’s filing, though, says Cumming’s conversation with Smith "did [not] . . . directly . . . relate to the lease renewal at Park City Mountain Resort."

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