Trial in resort feud is slated in January
December 12, 2007
All sides in a legal fight at The Canyons claimed victory when a judge ruled Friday that a trial should occur in Park City.
At issue is whether 3rd District Court Judge Robert K. Hilder should allow Wolf Mountain Resorts Managing Partner Kenny Griswold, who owns most of the ski terrain at The Canyons, to prevent the resort’s parent company, American Skiing Co., from selling The Canyons to the Talisker development firm.
Griswold says he must consent before ASC can transfer the lease to a different operator.
"Wolf Mountain will always be the landlord and we’re entitled to know all the issues of a potential new tenant and we look forward to a trial," Griswold said in a telephone interview.
Hilder held that Talisker officials have not provided enough information to Wolf Mountain concerning the developer’s financial condition.
According to Hilder, "even the best evidence proffered by [Talisker officials], namely the depositions of Jack Bistricer and Jeff Levine, fails to elucidate much critical information."
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"For whatever reason, those witnesses have simply failed to be forthcoming on details that any reasonable party in [Griswold’s] shoes would expect to be provided," the ruling from Hilder states.
Wolf Mountain must examine Talisker financials closely to determine if the developer is the right operator for The Canyons, Griswold claimed.
"These questions include : What is the financial structure of the Talisker entities? And, just how well supported are the financial statements proffered in support of Talisker’s claim of financial capability?" Hilder’s ruling states.
But the judge ruled against Wolf Mountain Resorts on its claim that Griswold should not consent to the Talisker sale because the development firm doesn’t operate any ski resorts.
"In its ruling, the court granted summary judgment in favor of Talisker and [The Canyons] on the core issue of whether Wolf Mountain can withhold consent on the basis of any claimed deficiency in the operating capability or expertise relative to operating The Canyons ski resort," a prepared response from Talisker stated. "Talisker is pleased with the ruling and looks forward to resolution of the remainder of the case in January."
An American Skiing Co. spokesman also touted the ruling in a telephone interview Tuesday.
"We are pleased that the court has addressed the issue of operating capability at the resort as it relates to the ground lease. We feel the ruling affirms the tremendously talented and capable management team that will serve the resort and community well for years to come," ASC spokesman David Hirasawa said. "We are confident that any remaining issues related to consent will be successfully resolved at trial in January."
Talisker and The Canyons sued Wolf Mountain Resorts when Griswold withheld his consent.
In siding with ASC and Talisker, Hilder stated he was baffled at why attorneys for Wolf Mountain didn’t question The Canyons Managing Director Michael Goar when they were given the opportunity in depositions.
According to Hilder, "I find no legal support for Wolf Mountain’s argument that [the] operating capability prong of the consent requirement requires that the new stockholder in [The Canyons] must have a proven track record as a ski area operator in the United States."
"While I concede that time was short, Wolf Mountain had the ability to take critical depositions, particularly that of [Goar], and simply chose not to do so," the ruling from Hilder states.