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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of Nov 26 - Dec 2, 2003


Warm Springs Ranch suits settled

Roth joins Sun Valley Ventures
in out-of-court agreement

Express Staff Writer

Two groups in litigation over ownership of Warm Springs Ranch reached a settlement last week that established California-based Sun Valley Ventures as the rightful title holder to the 76-acre property northwest of downtown Ketchum.

Sun Valley residents Clarke Hall and Jennifer Rush enjoy a fireside cocktail at Warm Springs Ranch Restaurant Monday evening. A series of lawsuits over ownership of the restaurant and surrounding ranch were settled out of court last week. Express photo by David N. Seelig

Representatives of Sun Valley Ventures and rival development group Warm Springs Ranch and Restaurant LLC confirmed Monday that a series of lawsuits between the two parties had been resolved in a "global settlement" that will ensure none of the civil cases proceeds in court.

Although the exact terms of the settlement were not released, representatives from both sides confirmed that the agreement will establish Stephen Roth, the majority owner of Warm Springs Ranch and Restaurant, as a partner and interest owner in Sun Valley Ventures and its pending redevelopment of Warm Springs Ranch.

Erwin Mieger, managing member of Sun Valley Ventures, said he is pleased to welcome his former adversary Roth into the company. "Mr. Roth is a well-respected member of this community who is committed to Ketchum and Warm Springs Ranch," he said. "We’re happy to have this matter resolved and welcome Steve’s full involvement and participation in this important project."

Sun Valley Ventures will now be owned principally by Mieger, Roth, Barbara Young and Robert Bisno. Ketchum resident Henry Dean is general counsel and project director for the company.

Warm Springs Ranch and Restaurant, owned principally by Roth and minority partner George W. Tischer, has legally relinquished all claims of ownership to Warm Springs Ranch, parties from both sides said.

"As the manager with control of the company, Steve Roth had the right to settle the litigation," said Steve Hardesty, attorney for Roth and Warm Springs Ranch and Restaurant.

Tischer could not be reached for comment Monday, when the settlement was announced.

Dean said the settlement will not allow Tischer any ownership in the ranch property. "He will not be involved," he said.

Dean noted that the settlement did not include any monetary damages or court-cost payments from one side to the other.

Bob Dunn, the owner of the restaurant and golf course businesses at Warm Springs Ranch, will continue to manage the restaurant under Roth, the parties announced Monday.

Roth said he will work closely with Dunn to ensure the restaurant continues to operate. "It is important to me and all the members of Sun Valley Ventures that the restaurant continues to accommodate the needs of a year-round, growing community, while maintaining the family-style, rustic feeling the restaurant has always offered," he said.

The settlement brings to a close six months of complex litigation between Sun Valley Ventures and Warm Springs Ranch and Restaurant.

Sun Valley Ventures—which in March acquired title to Warm Springs Ranch for $12 million—first filed suit against Warm Springs Ranch and Restaurant in U.S. District Court in Boise last April.

On June 11, the company then filed a civil complaint against Warm Springs Ranch and Restaurant in 5th District Court in Hailey. That suit alleged that Tischer committed "fraud" and "materially breached" elements of a July 2002 contract he had established to purchase the property from the owners, the Simpson Family Limited Partnership.

On June 12, Warm Springs Ranch and Restaurant filed a separate lawsuit in 5th District Court against Sun Valley Ventures, claiming that Mieger and his associates illegally interfered with that same July 2002 purchase contract held by Warm Springs Ranch and Restaurant.

In 5th District Court earlier this month, both parties agreed to an injunction that would disallow Sun Valley Ventures from making changes to the golf course and restaurant businesses until the case was resolved in court. District Judge Daniel B. Meehl on Nov. 13 ordered that a trial for the case be commenced on Feb. 2, 2004.

Dean confirmed that all of the lawsuits between the two parties will be dropped as a result of the litigation. "This is a global settlement that affects all litigation," he said.

Just two weeks ago, it appeared the two parties would indeed be headed to trial. Hardesty alleged on Nov. 13 that Sun Valley Ventures "bought the (Warm Springs) property out from under Warm Springs Ranch and Restaurant."

Sun Valley Ventures representatives said this week that the company will now promptly proceed with plans to redevelop Warm Springs Ranch. The company has commissioned a group of 11 Ketchum residents and business owners to guide establishment of a formal development plan for the site.

Tentative plans for the property have included a hotel, fractional-ownership townhouses, open space and a public walking trail.



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