Vail Resorts now part of lawsuit in Park City
December 4, 2007
A judge is trying to consolidate a flurry of legal claims at The Canyons by allowing Colorado-based Vail Resorts, Inc. to become involved in a lawsuit in the Snyderville Basin.
"This ruling attempts to allow the issues of this case, and related matters, to be heard at one time by one judge in one jurisdiction," 3rd District Court Judge Bruce Lubeck wrote in an 18-page ruling and order issued Nov 29.
Wolf Mountain Resorts Managing Partner Kenny Griswold owns most of the land at The Canyons, which is leased to the resort operators.
The Peninsula Advisors investment firm sued Wolf Mountain in July claiming Griswold had agreed to sell his property at The Canyons for $115 million.
"The main purpose of the lawsuit is to enforce the contract and have the court direct that Mr. Griswold is to live by the terms of the [contract,]" Peninsula Advisors spokesman Josh Ewing said at the time of the court filing.
But according to Vail attorney Robert Blume, Peninsula principal Mark Robbins reneged on an agreement he struck with Wolf Mountain and Vail when he instead arranged to partner with the Talisker Corp. development firm to purchase The Canyons from parent American Skiing Co. for $100 million.
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"Peninsula’s view of the world … is quite myopic and isolated," Blume said in a court hearing in Snyderville Nov. 26. "[Peninsula] agreed to work exclusively with Vail to consummate the transaction."
Vail, Peninsula Advisors and Griswold reportedly agreed to form a joint venture to purchase The Canyons and Vail would own 50 percent of the resort.
"Thereafter, [Peninsula] breached that agreement by negotiating with Talisker to attempt to acquire The Canyons," the ruling from Lubeck states.
Officials at Peninsula claim they agreed to purchase about 2,000 acres Griswold owns at The Canyons. Their lawsuit seeks $16 million in damages from Wolf Mountain.
"The entirety of the conduct of the parties should be subject to one jurisdiction and one judgment, realizing judicial economy and reducing the chance of inconsistent judgments or duplicitous liabilities," states Lubeck’s ruling that grants Vail’s motion to intervene in the case.
The ruling means "Vail is still in the game," said Griswold, who has said that he would rather Vail own The Canyons than Talisker.
"When Vail Resorts, Wolf Mountain and Peninsula entered into an agreement to combine the land and the resort operations, it would have eliminated all the lawsuits and uncertainty and created an extraordinary story for Utah skiing," Griswold said. "Since Vail Resorts and all the other parties are still inextricably intertwined, Judge Lubeck’s ruling makes perfect sense to resolve all of the issues."
A notice Vail filed at the Summit County Recorder’s Office on Griswold’s property Nov. 2, means people examining titles at The Canyons know there is a court dispute about who should own the land, Griswold said.
Meanwhile, because of the flurry of lawsuits pending at The Canyons, the judge allowed Vail to intervene in the Peninsula lawsuit against Wolf Mountain, Peninsula attorney Joe Wrona said.
"It makes sense to [Lubeck] for everybody to be in one place at one time," Wrona said Tuesday.