By JAY HAMBURGER
The Park Record
Park City, Utah—Park City Mountain Resort and Talisker Land Holdings on Monday morning asked the judge presiding over a high-profile lawsuit centered on much of the land underlying the ski resort’s terrain to extend the deadline for mediation until 5 p.m. on Friday.
Third District Court Judge Ryan Harris in June set an Aug. 15 deadline for mediation to be completed. He already granted one extension, which passed on Sunday. The lead attorneys for the two sides each signed the letter to Harris asking that the deadline be extended until Friday.
“As of this morning, the parties continue to work in good faith with the mediator,” says the letter, which carries the names of Talisker Land Holdings attorney John Lund and Park City Mountain Resort attorney Alan Sullivan.
The letter indicates the sides do not want an extension of other deadlines in the case.
The sides have not released details about the negotiations through the course of the mediation. State law prohibits them from discussing the talks in any depth. It is not known who the mediator is.
The Monday request was made two days before an important hearing in the case. The sides today, Aug. 27, are expected to present arguments about the bond amount the resort would be required to post to remain on the disputed land through an appeal.
Park City Mountain Resort has indicated in a court filing the judge should set a bond at between $1,021,308 and $6,559,616. Talisker Land Holdings redacted its proposed number from its filing. The dollar figure is almost certainly significantly higher than the range identified by the resort.
Both sides on Monday released prepared statements about the extension request.
Jenni Smith, the president and general manager of the resort, said the resort wants the talks to continue.
“The mediation deadline has been extended to Friday, Aug. 29. PCMR will continue to negotiate with Vail in the hope that a reasonable settlement can be reached. The Park City Mountain Resort team lives in this community and realizes what is at stake. Only PCMR will be able to operate the resort for the upcoming 2014/15 season, unless a long-term solution is reached immediately. Our goal is, and has always been, to keep the resort open for the 2014/15 season,” Smith says in the statement.
Talisker Land Holdings and Vail Resorts released an unsigned statement through Lund. It mentions by name the Cumming family, which owns PCMR parent Powdr Corp. Vail Resorts is overseeing the lawsuit on behalf of Talisker Land Holdings as part of an agreement to operate the Talisker corporate family-owned Canyons Resort. The deal could be extended to include the disputed terrain at PCMR depending on the outcome of the lawsuit.
“Talisker and Vail Resorts are completely committed to finding a resolution to this dispute that is in the best interests of all the parties and the Park City community. The Cumming family has an outstanding track record that brings a sophisticated approach to numerous industries and different investments. As such, we appreciate continuing to be in the court-ordered mediation process and we remain optimistic that the parties can come together and bring closure to the disruption caused by the litigation,” the statement says.
The case centers on the resort’s lease of Talisker Land Holdings acreage that makes up most of the resort’s terrain. The judge has ruled in the landowner’s favor on the most important points in the case, including that the lease expired in 2011 after it was not renewed, and has signed a de facto eviction order against the resort.